Definitions

anno regni

Two pounds (British decimal coin)

This article describes the circulating £2 coins first issued in 1998 (dated 1997) and the commemorative coins issued from 1986 to 1996. For earlier two pound coins issued in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, see Two pounds (British pre-decimal coin).

The modern circulating coin (1997–present)

The circulating British two pound (£2) coin went into production in 1997. It was the first bi-metallic coin to be produced for circulation in Britain since the tin farthing with a copper plug produced in 1692, and is the highest denomination coin in common circulation. The coin consists of an outer gold-coloured nickel-brass ring made from 76% copper, 20% zinc, and 4% nickel, and an inner silver-coloured cupro-nickel disc made from 75% copper, 25% nickel. The coin weighs 12.00 grams and is 28.40 millimetres in diameter. The coin was introduced to test the public's opinion on the use of bi-metallic coins as a precursor to the possible introduction of the euro, as the one and two euro coins were planned to be bi-metallic.

The design itself was first trialled in 1994 when the Royal Mint produced a short run of demonstration pieces to the new bi-metal standard. These pieces were not for circulation and were simply intended to test the manufacturing process. The coin was technically similar to the version which eventually entered circulation with the Maklouf effigy of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse and the image of a sailing ship similar to that previously used on the reverse of the pre-decimal halfpenny piece. The inscription on the reverse read ROYAL MINT TRIAL 1994 with an edge inscription based on the one pound coin which read DECUS ET TUTAMEN ANNO REGNI XLXVI, meaning "An ornament and a safeguard – in the 46th year of her reign". The 1994 pieces were never legal tender but were eventually released for sale as part of a presentation set in 1998. At the same time in 1994 the Royal Mint produced a mono-metallic trial two-pound coin, with the same ship reverse and inscription, but otherwise similar to the earlier commemorative coins. These were never issued in presentation sets, and so are much scarcer than the bi-metallic version.

Because of technical difficulties, the 1997-dated coins, which bear the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II by Raphael Maklouf, were not released to circulation until June 1998 (the same time as the 1998-dated coins). 1998 and later dated coins bear the effigy of the Queen by Ian Rank-Broadley. The Maklouf-effigy coins bear the inscription ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA F D on the obverse; the Rank-Broadley coins bear the inscription ELIZABETH II DEI GRA REG FID DEF.

The reverse of the regular-issue coin, designed by Bruce Rushin, bears a concentric design symbolically representing technological development from the Iron Age, through the Industrial Revolution and the Electronic Age to the Internet, with the inscription TWO POUNDS above the design and the date below. It is worth noting that the design depicts nineteen interlocking cogs; due to this odd number, the mechanism could not actually turn outside a Möbius strip. The coin has the edge inscription STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS taken from a letter by Sir Isaac Newton to Robert Hooke, in which he describes how his work was built on the knowledge of those that had gone before him. "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

The comparative rarity of the Maklouf-effigy coins ("the ones with the necklace") has led to an urban myth that they are much more valuable than the other coins, but this is not true – there are over 13 million 1997-dated £2 coins in circulation. Another urban myth about the coin is that putting it in the freezer overnight causes the cupro-nickel centre to pop out. (This is the case with the similarly-designed Canadian two dollar coin.)

As of December 2005 there were an estimated 268 million £2 coins in circulation.

Mintages

  • 1997 ~ 13,734,625
  • 1998 ~ 91,110,375
  • 1999 ~ 38,652,000
  • 2000 ~ 25,770,000
  • 2001 ~ 37,843,500
  • 2002 ~ 15,521,000
  • 2003 ~ 21,830,250
  • 2004 ~ 16,986,000
  • 2005 ~ 15,331,500

Counterfeiting

Because the coin is bi-metallic it is very hard to reproduce. Most counterfeits that have been made have a painted outer ring which soon wears off.

Special issues

This denomination is now commonly used for commemorative purposes. Unlike the earlier commemorative coins described below, these special issues are intended for everyday circulation and are regularly encountered as such. The following varieties have been issued (illustrations show the reverse designs; obverses are the same as the regular coin).

1999: Rugby World Cup. (The image shown is of a Gold Proof version of the coin.)
Reverse: Symbolic representation of a stadium with a rugby ball and goalposts; 1999 above the design, TWO POUNDS below.
Edge inscription: RUGBY WORLD CUP 1999.
4.9 million coins in circulation.
2001: Transatlantic radio centenary. (The image shown is of a Silver Proof version of the coin.)
Reverse: Symbolic representation of Marconi's transatlantic wireless transmission of 1901; TWO POUNDS below.
Edge inscription: WIRELESS BRIDGES THE ATLANTIC...MARCONI...1901.
2002: Commonwealth Games, Manchester (English issue). (The image shown is of a Piedfort Silver Proof version of the coin.)
Reverse: XVII COMMONWEALTH GAMES 2002 around an athlete holding a banner, £2 in front and the English flag.
Edge inscription: SPIRIT OF FRIENDSHIP MANCHESTER 2002.
2002: Commonwealth Games, Manchester (Welsh issue).
Reverse: XVII COMMONWEALTH GAMES 2002 around an athlete holding a banner, £2 in front and the Welsh flag.
Edge inscription: SPIRIT OF FRIENDSHIP MANCHESTER 2002.
2002: Commonwealth Games, Manchester (Northern Irish issue).
Reverse: XVII COMMONWEALTH GAMES 2002 around an athlete holding a banner, £2 in front and the Northern Irish flag.
Edge inscription: SPIRIT OF FRIENDSHIP MANCHESTER 2002.
2002: Commonwealth Games, Manchester (Scottish issue).
Reverse: XVII COMMONWEALTH GAMES 2002 around an athlete holding a banner, £2 in front and the Scottish flag.
Edge inscription: SPIRIT OF FRIENDSHIP MANCHESTER 2002.
2003: 50th anniversary of the discovery of the structure of DNA. (The image shown is of a Gold Proof version of the coin.)
Reverse: Representation of the DNA double helix, DNA DOUBLE HELIX above, 1953 TWO POUNDS 2003 below designed by John W Mills.
Edge inscription: DEOXYRIBONUCLEIC ACID followed by a decorative side view of a double helix.
2004: Bicentenary of the first railway locomotive. (The image shown is of a Silver Proof version of the coin.)
Reverse: Richard Trevithick's 1804 locomotive with TWO POUNDS above it, with a "toothed wheel" design on the inner edge of the gold coloured ring, and the inscription: 2004 R. TREVITHICK 1804 INVENTION - INDUSTRY - PROGRESS around.
Edge inscription: decorative design intended to represent a railway track.
2005: 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot. (The image shown is of a Gold Proof version of the coin.)
Reverse: Three Parliamentary maces, three episcopal crooks, and six swords in the centre, 1605 - 2005 above, TWO POUNDS below, and fourteen gunpowder explosion stars on either side.
Edge inscription: REMEMBER REMEMBER THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER
2005: 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. (The image shown is of a Gold Proof version of the coin.)
Reverse: Saint Paul's Cathedral crossed with searchlights, 1945 - 2005 below, TWO POUNDS above.
Edge inscription: IN VICTORY MAGNANIMITY IN PEACE GOODWILL
2006: Bicentenary of the birth of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. (The image shown is of a Gold Proof version of the coin.)
Reverse: Roof of Brunel's Paddington Station, TWO POUNDS below, 2006 above.
Edge inscription: SO MANY IRONS IN THE FIRE.
The 2006 £2 coin was released into general circulation on 13 April 2006.
2006: Bicentenary of the birth of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. (The image shown is of a Silver Proof version of the coin.)
Reverse: Brunel portrait with the Royal Albert Bridge behind, TWO POUNDS above, 2006 below.
Edge inscription: ISAMBARD KINGDOM BRUNEL · ENGINEER 1806-1859.
The 2006 £2 coin was released into general circulation on 13 April 2006.
2007: Bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire.
Reverse: 1807, with the 0 as part of a broken chain, 2007 below, AN ACT FOR THE ABOLITION OF THE SLAVE TRADE above and around.
Edge inscription: AM I NOT A MAN AND A BROTHER
2007: Tricentenary of the Acts of Union 1707.
Reverse: Split into four jigsaw pieces, Scottish thistle in the top left, English rose in the bottom right, parliamentary gates in the top right and bottom left. TWO 2007 above, 1707 POUNDS below.
Edge inscription: UNITED INTO ONE KINGDOM
2008: 100th anniversary of the 1908 London Summer Olympics. More than 400,000 minted.
2008: London 2012 Olympiad Handover.
Reverse: The Olympic Flag being passed from one hand to another, encircled by the inscription “BEIJING 2008 LONDON 2012” and with the London 2012 logo below.
Edge inscription: I CALL UPON THE YOUTH OF THE WORLD
2009: 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of publication of The Origin of Species.
2009: 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns.

The commemorative coin (1986–1996)

Between 1986 and 1996 a series of unimetallic £2 coins were struck to commemorate special occasions. These coins were intended as souvenirs and tended not to circulate at the time of their issue, but they do seem to appear in circulation more often now that there is also a regular coin of this denomination.

The coins were minted from the same composition as the £1 coin, i.e. a nickel-brass alloy of approximately 70% copper, 24.5% zinc, and 5.5% nickel. The coins weigh 15.98 grams and have a diameter of 28.40 millimetres. Although they have the same diameter as the later circulating coins, they are somewhat thicker and heavier.

The only obverse used on the commemorative £2 coin is the head of Queen Elizabeth II by Raphael Maklouf, with the inscription ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA F D TWO POUNDS.

There were seven issues of this coin, with the following reverses and inscriptions:

1986: 13th Commonwealth Games, held in Scotland.
Reverse: Thistle on St Andrew's Cross, 1986 above.
Edge inscription: XIII COMMONWEALTH GAMES SCOTLAND 1986.
1989: Tercentenary of the English Bill of Rights.
Reverse: Intertwined W and M (for William and Mary) with mace, English crown above, 1689 over 1989 below, TERCENTENARY OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS above.
No edge inscription.
1989: Tercentenary of the Scottish Claim of Right.
Reverse: Intertwined W and M (for William and Mary) with mace, Scottish crown above, 1689 over 1989 below, TERCENTENARY OF THE CLAIM OF RIGHT above.
No edge inscription.
1994: Tercentenary of the Bank of England.
Reverse: Seal of the Bank of England, intertwined W and M (for William and Mary) surmounted by crown above legend BANK OF ENGLAND 1694 1994.
Edge inscription: SIC VOS NON VOBIS ("thus we labour, but not for ourselves", motto of William Paterson).
1995: 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
Reverse: Dove carrying olive branch designed by John W Mills.
Edge inscription: 1945 IN PEACE GOODWILL 1995.
An unusual coin, in that the date is indicated only on its edge.
1995: 50th anniversary of the United Nations.
Reverse: Array of flags, 50 and UN symbol with legend: NATIONS UNITED FOR PEACE 1945 – 1995.
Milled edge, no inscription.
1996: Euro 96 European Football Championships.
Reverse: Representation of a football, 1996 in centre, 16 small rings representing the 16 competing teams. Designed by John W Mills; designer's initials indicated in stitching.
Edge inscription: TENTH EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP.

Mintages

  • 1986 ~ 8,212,184
  • 1989 ~ 4,777,891
  • 1994 ~ 1,443,116
  • 1995 ~ 6,056,506
  • 1996 ~ 5,141,350

References

See also

External links

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