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50 shillings / shilingi
Tanzania 50 shillings 2012
2012 coin
General information

Flag of Tanzania Tanzania


50.00 shillings



Measurements and composition
  • 31.85 g (1974, .500 silver)
  • 35 g (1974, .925 silver)
  • 7.91 g (1996-2015)
  • 42 mm (1974)
  • 22 mm (1996-2015)

2.9 mm (1996-2015)

  • silver (1974)
  • brass-plated steel (1996-2015)
  • round (1974)
  • heptagonal (1996-2015)
  • reeded (1974)
  • plain (1996-2015)
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The 50 shilling/shilingi coin is a current circulation coin and former commemorative piece of the United Republic of Tanzania. The first coin type of the denomination was introduced in 1974, during the administration of President Julius Nyerere (1922–1999). A non-circulating legal tender piece, the coin was minted in recognition of the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis), a native animal to Tanzania that has been classified as endangered since the last half of the 20th century. The first circulation 50 shilling piece was subsequently introduced in 1996, during the early presidency of Benjamin Mkapa (1938–), and then minted again in 2012 and 2015, under President Jakaya Kikwete (1953–). Although it was not made during his administration, the circulation piece features the likeness of Ali Hassan Mwinyi (1925–), the President of Tanzania immediately after Nyerere.

Both the 1974 commemorative and the circulation piece currently hold legal tender face values equivalent to 50.00 shillings. The latter sees considerable use in Tanzania, but the former, intended primarily for collectors, is rarely circulated. Both types have been distributed by the Bank of Tanzania. The commemorative was struck at the Royal Mint in the United Kingdom, and the circulation coin was also commissioned to be struck outside of Tanzania.


Black rhinoceros commemorative coin (1974)[]

Tanzania 50 shillings 1974 (925)

1974 commemorative (.925 silver proof)

The nation of Tanzania hosts a variety of endangered animals, including the Eastern (D. b. michaeli) and South-central (D. b. minor) subspecies of the black rhinoceros. Since the 1970s, poaching has considerably lowered the population of black rhinoceri in the wild, prompting conservationists to monitor the animal's numbers. In 1974, under President Julius Nyerere, Tanzania commissioned the Royal Mint of the United Kingdom to produce a series of 25, 50, and 1,500 shilling coins to recognize the conservation of some of the East African country's endangered fauna. Of these, the 50 shilling piece was minted in recognition of the black rhinoceros.

Two compositions of the 1974 commemorative are known. A slight majority of examples, weighing 35 grams, were minted using .925 fine silver, but a number of less fine .500 silver pieces, measuring a slightly smaller 31.85 grams, were also produced. Coins of both compositions measure approximately 42 millimeters in diameter. They have medallic alignment and reeded edges, and like most coins, are round in shape. The rims of both the obverse and reverse are raised and undecorated.

The design of the obverse was drafted and engraved during the mid-1960s by English artist Christopher Ironside (1913–1992), first appearing on the 1966 series of Tanzanian circulation coins. This obverse features a left-facing bust of President Julius Nyerere, flanked to the left and right by two local flowers, which are engraved along the rim of the piece. The Swahili caption "RAIS WA KWANZA", translating to English as "first President", is inscribed along the bottom periphery of the obverse in a counterclockwise direction between the flowers. Written at the upper rim in the opposite direction is the word "TANZANIA", followed by the Gregorian date of minting in Western Arabic numerals, "1974". A full-body illustration of a black rhinoceros is included in the middle of the reverse. This animal is depicted on the piece facing between ½ and ¾ right, standing on grass-covered earth, with two Vachellia acacias in the background. The number "50", identifying a face value of 50 shillings, is engraved horizontally below the image of the rhinoceros, and is flanked by two small circular points. "SHILINGI HAMSINI", the Swahili equivalent of "fifty shillings", is written along the outer periphery of the piece, extending in a clockwise direction from the lower left to right sides of the reverse.

A total of 20,826 Tanzanian 50 shilling coins were produced in 1974, including 12,000 proof examples in .925 fine silver and 8,826 Uncirculated and Brilliant Uncirculated specimens in .500 silver.

Circulation coin (1996–2015)[]

In 1985, after over two decades in power, President Julius Nyerere relinquished his administrative position to Vice President Ali Hassan Mwinyi. Early into the new leadership, from 1986 to 1990, Mwinyi's likeness was added to all of the Tanzanian circulation coins of the time, excluding the 10 shilling piece, and certain non-circulating commemoratives. After ruling for little over a decade, Mwinyi retired as president in 1995. He was succeeded by Benjamin Mkapa, the Minister of Communication, Science, and Technology and former Minister of Information and Broadcasting and Minister of Foreign Affairs. In 1996, during the first full year of Mkapa's administration, the Bank of Tanzania introduced the first circulation 50 shilling coin. However, in spite of the election of a new leader, Mwinyi's portrait was included on the piece instead of Mkapa's. Jakaya Kikwete, a prominent politician under both Mwinyi and Mkapa, then assumed the presidency of Tanzania in 2005. In 2012 and 2015, during Kikwete's second term, the unaltered 50 shilling circulation piece was struck for the second, and most recent time.

The Tanzanian 50 shilling circulation coin is composed of brass-plated steel, weighs approximately 7.91 grams, and measures 22 millimeters in diameter and 2.9 millimeters in thickness. It has medallic alignment and a plain edge. Like the 20 shilling piece issued from 1990 to 1992, it is equilaterally heptagonal in shape with rounded corners. The rims of the obverse and reverse are raised and undecorated.

Displayed in the center of the circulation coin's obverse, inside of a solid circular border, is a right-facing illustration of President Ali Hassan Mwinyi wearing a collared shirt. The caption "NDUGU ALI HASSAN MWINYI" is engraved in a clockwise direction to the left of the circular boundary, extending from the lower to upper peripheries of the obverse. Ndugu, in context meaning "comrade" or "brother", is included on the piece to acknowledge unity and camaraderie with the Tanzanian people. In reference to Mwinyi, "RAIS WA PILI WA TANZANIA", meaning "second President of Tanzania", appears along the right side of the coin, traveling clockwise from the piece's upper to the lower boundaries. Separating these two aforementioned inscriptions is a design element consisting of four squares (▪▪
). The Gregorian date of minting, either "1996", "2012", or "2015", is written at the bottom of the obverse, flanked to the left and right by the four-square element. Featured in the middle of the reverse is an illustration of a mother black rhinoceros with her calf, facing right and standing in a shallow stream of water near three aquatic plants. A small bird, likely an oxpecker (Buphagus), is perched on the adult rhinoceros' back. The numeral "50", identifying a face value of 50 shillings, is inscribed horizontally below the illustration. "SHILINGI HAMSINI" is additionally included at the top of the piece, arching in a clockwise direction from the upper left to right peripheries of the piece.

The total mintage of the piece is currently unknown. Only business strikes are known to have been produced in 1996, 2012, and 2015.


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