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The Story of the British Two Pound Coin £2 Coins IndexChard 24 Carat Home Page

Reverse of 1893 Two Pound Coin
Reverse of 1986 Commonwealth Games Two Pounds
Reverse of 1994 Two Pounds Bank of England
Reverse of Two Pounds 1996 Celebrating the european football championships
Reverse of Gold Proof 2005 £2 Saint Pauls Cathedral
Reverse of 2006 Brunel The Man Two Pounds
Reverse of 2006 Definitive Two Pounds
Reverse of 2006 Brunel Achievements Two Pounds
A Brief History of the British Two Pound Piece

Henry VII - The First Two Pound Gold Coin
A gold double sovereign was introduced by Henry VII in 1485, although it was possibly a treble sovereign. It was produced from the same dies as the sovereign, but on a thicker, heavier flan. It is thought that they may have been struck for presentation purposes only as piedforts, literally "heavy weight". They are extremely rare.
This early type of double sovereign was also issued for Edward VI in 1553, and these also are extremely rare.

Modern £2
The modern two pound gold coin was introduced in 1820 and is often called a double sovereign. The design generally reflects that of the sovereign, so that the reverse usually features Benedetto Pistrucci's magnificent rendition of Saint George slaying the dragon.

George III - The Double Sovereign Re-introduced
The gold double sovereign, was first struck in 1820 for George III, although it was not issued for circulation, being only a proof pattern coin. The modern sovereign had been re-introduced in 1817.
An ordinary circulation version was produced in 1823, and obviously proved quite popular as specimens turn up quite frequently in worn condition. A further proof-only version was produced in 1826 for George IV as part of the Coronation proof set, but like the 1820, this was not intended for circulation.
Although no five pound coins were issued for William IV, double sovereigns were struck in 1831. This also was a proof-only version, not intended for circulation.
None were produced bearing Queen Victoria's young head.
All of the above proof coins are rare and expensive.

Victoria's Golden Jubilee
In 1887, a larger quantity of two pound coins was produced on the occasion of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. They were produced in proof editions, and for only the second time, a normal circulation type version. Similarly in 1893, two versions of the two pound piece were produced to mark the change to the "Old Head" coin issues.
In 1902 there was a coronation issue of coins which included another two pound coin, again in two versions. A small quantity were also struck as proofs at the Sydney mint. These are extremely rare.
Only small numbers of two pound coins turn up which show much sign of having been used in circulation, although more than for the five pound gold piece. These are all from the four issues of 1823, 1887, 1893, and 1902. It is evident from this that the two pound gold piece was never really much used in everyday transactions. Future issues were never used for circulation.

George V and Beyond
George V's coronation in 1911 was marked by the issue of proof coins sets, some of which included a gold two pounds.
Although pattern coinage was prepared for Edward VIII, no British coins were issued bearing his portrait, even for collectors.
For the coronation of George VI, proof coin sets were issued in 1937 including a two pounds.
For the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953, proof sets were issued, but contained denominations from the crown down to farthing. Gold coin specimens were produced, but none were issued, even for collectors.

Decimalisation
In advance of decimalisation in 1971, a department was created at the Royal Mint to produce, package and market coins for collectors, and in 1980, two pound gold coins were once again issued, and this production has continued in most years since, but only in proof versions.
Gold two pounds are a worthwhile and interesting addition to any collection of British coins.

Modern Times - New Nickel Brass £2 Coins
The story of the gold two pound piece would not be complete without a mention of the "new" base metal £2 coins.
In 1986, a new two pound coin was introduced which we believe was intended for circulation, or at least to test public reaction. It was struck in nickel-brass, measured 28.4 mm, and weighed 15.98 grams, exactly the same weight as the previous £2 gold coin. It then continued to be produced until 1996. It met with only limited popularity as a circulating coin, being rather thick and heavy, at a time when most other coin denominations were being reduced in size.

1994 Royal Mint Trials
In 1994, the Royal Mint made a number of trial batches of bi-coloured two pound coins, and in 1998 some of these were made available to collectors in an attractive and informative package.

In Circulation - At Last
From 1997, a new bi-metal two pound coin has been produced, which seems to have become quite widely accepted in circulation. Although it retains the same diameter, it is thinner and lighter, weighing only 12.0 grams, and this appears to have contributed to its popularity. It now looks set to become a common sight in our change after only just over 500 years!

Different Designs
So far all of the base metal two pound coins have featured a different design in each year of issue, sometimes two different designs in the same year. We will attempt a brief resumé of the designs so far:-

Year ObverseReverseCommemorates
1986Third PortraitThistleCommonwealth Games
1989Third PortraitBill of Rights300th Anniversary
1989Third PortraitClaim of Rights300th Anniversary
1994Third PortraitBank of England's Seal300th Anniversary
1995Third PortraitDove of Peace50th Anniversary WWII
1995Third PortraitArray of Flags50th Anniversary UN
1996Third PortraitFootballEuropean Football Championships
1997Third Portrait4 Concentric Circles4 Ages, Iron, Industrial, Silicon, Internet
1998Fourth Portrait4 Concentric Circles4 Ages, Iron, Industrial, Silicon, Internet
1999Fourth PortraitRugby StadiumRugby World Cup 1999
2000Fourth Portrait4 Concentric Circles4 Ages, Iron, Industrial, Silicon, Internet
2001Fourth PortraitMarconiCentenary of the Transatlantic Telegraph
2002Fourth Portrait4 Concentric Circles4 Ages, Iron, Industrial, Silicon, Internet
2002Fourth PortraitAthleteCommonwealth Games 4 Different Designs
2003Fourth PortraitDNA MoleculeFiftieth Anniversary od Discovery of DNA
2004Fourth PortraitSteam LocomotiveBicentenary of Richard Trevithick Invention
2005Fourth PortraitSt. Paul's CathedralSixtieth Anniversary of End of World War II
2005Fourth PortraitGuy Fawkes400th Anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot
2006Fourth PortraitBrunelPortrait of Isambard Kingdom Brunel - The Man
2006Fourth PortraitBrunelPaddington Railway Station - Achievements
2007Fourth PortraitAct Of Union300th Anniversary of the Acts of Union Between England & Scotland
2007Fourth PortraitSlaveryCentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade
2008Fourth PortraitRunning TrackCentenary of London Olympics
2008Fourth PortraitOlympic FlagOlympic Games Handover Ceremony
2009Fourth PortraitCharles Darwin & ChimpanzeeBicentenary of the Birth of Charles Darwin in 1809
2009Fourth PortraitExtract from Auld Lang Syne250th Anniversary of the Birth of Robert Burns in 1759
2010Fourth PortraitHands100th Anniversary of the Death of Florence Nightingale in 1910

An Urban Myth
During 1999, we became aware of a persistent rumour that a two pound coin with the queen wearing a necklet was worth £15. There is no truth in this rumour. It is the sort of story which appears to start for no particular reason, and then self-perpetuates in a form a "Chinese whispers", so that it becomes part of an urban folklore of misinformation.
The rumour relates to the 1997 new bi-metallic two pounds coin. The nearest we can come to solving the "mystery of the queen's necklet" is that a listener phoned a Red Rose Radio / Rock FM phone-in programme, and said that he had heard, from where or whom we do not know, that a two pound coin with the queen wearing a necklet was worth £15. That afternoon we received about four telephone calls all asking was it true, etc.. We were able to quickly ascertain that there was no known rarity or error. All two pound coins from 1986 to 1997 bear the queen's third portrait in which she is shown wearing what appears to be a pearl necklet, from 1998 the obverse (head side) design changed to a more mature fourth portrait, in which the portrait of Her Majesty is shown truncated at the neck rather than the shoulder. She therefore appears without a necklet.
We had originally thought that within a few weeks of the radio programme, this particular rumour would die a natural death, but unfortunately it appears to have started to replicate itself, and we still receive numerous telephone calls and e-mails about it. As the weeks pass by, the "value" jumps around, and although £15 is the commonest figure we hear, sometimes it changes to £5, £17, and other figures.
A few weeks after the programme, we had a visitor who asked us about the story, and when we told him the facts, he informed us that we were wrong (so why he asked we don't know!), and that he knew somebody who had sold one for £15 plus the £2 face value. We told him that we could find hundreds of them, and that if he could point us to the buyer we would split the profits with him. Apparently it was someone he was talking to in a pub who had sold it to a dealer in Birkenhead. So far he has not been back to claim his share of our potential profits!
If anybody out there knows who made the phone call to the radio station, please let us know, or better still shoot him, and then let us know!

If you want to find the value of a coin you own, please take a look at our page I've Found An Old Coin, What's It Worth?
Or you could check out our £2 Coin Values page.


If you have an enquiry about any of our £2 Pieces, we'd be happy to answer you, but please note it may be quicker to telephone us. Please see the Contact Us page of our website.

Please, if you are going to ask us whether the £2 coin you own is worth more than £2, please, please, please read our other pages about them first, and even then the answer is almost certainly no. About 1,000 people every week read one or more of our pages about £2 coins. Hopefully most manage to find what they wanted. A tiny percentage, but still about 20 per week ask us whether a £2 they have found in change / in a drawer / been given is worth more than £2. The answer to 99% of these questions is already on our site. We do not have the time or patience to answer such questions individually.


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