The fifty-cent coin was first introduced with decimal currency on 14 February 1966. The original design featured the Commonwealth Coat of Arms struck on a coin made from 80% silver. However, as the silver price rose above the face value of the coin the Mint suspended striking of the coin in March 1968.
Although it was rumoured that the Mint had lost money striking the fifty cent, all the metal used in the manufacture of the 36.5 million coins produced was purchased before the price rises.
Apart from the uneconomic cost of continuing the issue of the silver fifty cent coins, increasing confusion arose regarding the similarity in sizes between the circular fifty cent and the twenty-cent coin. The decision to reissue a fifty-cent coin considered not only a change to materials but also different shapes to help solve the confusion with the twenty cents.
A new shape and alloy was reintroduced into circulation in September 1969.
Even in the most toned state, these coins are prized for their silver content, with higher grade examples benefiting from numismatic collectability.