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|1994 Tercentenary of the Bank of England Two Pound Coin|
1994 Tercentenary of the Bank of England Two Pound Coin
To celebrate the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Bank of England, commemorative two pound coins were issued in 1994.
It is appropriate that the tercentenary of the Bank of England should be celebrated on the coinage, linking two great institutions both intimately connected with the nation's currency. The obverse of the new commemorative coin bears Raphael Maklouf's acclaimed portrait of the Queen while the new reverse design, created by Leslie Durbin, reflects the period in which the Bank was founded, bearing the Bank's original corporate seal, the crown and cypher of William and Mary and the words Bank of England in familiar script. The motto of William Paterson, "sic vos non vobis", "thus we labour but not for ourselves", forms the edge inscription.
The Bank of England
During the first half of the seventeenth century, banking in England was mainly in the hands of the goldsmiths who in the course of business made extensive loans to the Crown. But in 1672 the suspension of payments by Charles II brought about a wave of bankruptcies and the call for a public bank. It was the young Scottish financier William Paterson who, backed by a powerful City group, proposed the loan of over one million pounds to a Government which by then had become increasingly desperate for funds to continue the costly war against France. In return the subscribers would be incorporated as the Governor and Company of the Bank of England. It was a venture supported by William III and the money was raised in less than two weeks.
The charter was sealed on 27th July 1694 at Powis House, Lincoln's Inn Fields. The Bank opened for business a few days later in temporary accommodation at the Mercer's Hall in Cheapside and the first notes to bear the name Bank of England appeared shortly afterwards. Later that same year the Bank moved to Grocer's Hall in Old Jewry.
Not until June 1734 were new offices built in Threadneedle Street on an estate formerly the home of Sir John Houblon, a prominent City merchant of Huguenot origin and the Bank's first Governor.
During its first century the Bank developed essentially as a Government bank, seeing off its competitors and effectively managing the entire national debt. By 1737, the Daily Gazeteer could quite rightly say, that "this very flourishing and opulent company have upon every emergency cheerfully and readily supplied the necessities of the nation... and it may very truly be said... relieved this nation out of the greatest difficulties, if not absolutely saved it from ruin".
From 1793 to 1815 Britain was almost continuously at war with France and the Bank played an important role in financing the war effort. But the enormous drain on its gold reserves was such that in 1979 the Bank was forced to restrict the redemption of its notes in gold. To meet the drastic shortage of coin during this Restriction Period, the Bank circulated Spanish silver dollars which had been countermarked with the head of George III and, as a wartime emergency, issued £1 and £2 notes for the first time. Government critics though decried the new paper credit, and the playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan, in a speech attacking Pitt's financial methods may have given the Bank its famous soubriquet when in the House of Commons he spoke of the Bank as "an elderly lady in the City of great credit and long standing who has... unfortunately fallen into bad company". But it had made the financing of the war possible and the directors were confident that they had acted "with a degree of liberality and attention to the public advantage".
As part of the coinage reform that followed the Napoleonic Wars, gold sovereigns, £1 in value, took the place of the £1 and £2 notes. And it was not until the sovereign disappeared from circulation during the First World War that a £1 note again put in an appearance and circulated until recent times when it was again replaced by a £1 coin.
On 1st March 1946, after 250 years as a private institution, a new Royal Charter transferred the Bank to public ownership whereby the Governor and members of the Court of Directors are appointed by the Crown.
The Third Portrait
The obverse (head side) is the third major portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, designed by Ralph David Maklouf, FRSA.
It came into use in 1985 and continued until 1997 inclusive, a total of thirteen years.
One of the first decisions of the Court of Directors in 1694 was the choice of Britannia "looking on a bank of mony" as the Bank's corporate seal. By that time she had assumed her place on the coinage, having graced halfpennies and farthings for more than twenty years and she has been depicted on the coinage of every monarch since Charles II. She was not forgotten at the time of decimalisation when she was chosen to appear on the reverse of the new fifty pence coin, and in gold Philip Nathan's Britannia stands proudly on the reverse of the highest denomination coins in the realm. So potent a symbol is she and so inextricably linked with the coinage, that she has appeared on every printed banknote issued by the Bank of England. It is entirely fitting, therefore, that in the same guise as she appeared on the Bank's corporate seal she should hold sway on the reverse of the new commemorative £2 coin struck for the Bank's tercentenary.
"As Safe As The Bank Of England"
As early as 1699 Irish writer, John Toland, described the Bank as "esteem'd so sacred a repository" that even overseas merchants thought their treasure safer there than in their own country. Physical security, however, remained relatively lax until an attack on the Bank during the Gordon Riots of 1789 prompted the Government to provide an overnight military guard known as the Bank Picquet. The Picquet was normally provided by the Brigade of Guards who, virtually every evening, would march from Wellington or Chelsea Barracks in full dress uniform. It was a tangible and highly visible recognition of the importance that was attached to protecting what one officer described in 1800 as the "grand Depot of National Treasure". The Picquet was abolished in 1973 and replaced by the Bank's own security system.
The edge is milled and inscribed:-
SIC VOS NON VOBIS
|Version||Diameter||Weight||Alloy||Actual Metal Weight|
|Piedfort Silver Proof||28.40||31.96||.925||0.9505|
Notes to Table
Diameter = Diameter in millimetres.
Weight = Weight in grams.
Alloy = Fineness of metal content.
AMW = Fine metal content in troy ounces.
Prices & Availability
|1||£6.50||Call to check availability|
BU Specimen in Folder
|1||£7.50||Call to check availability|
Piedfort Silver Proof
For the gold proof version, please see our Tax Free Gold website.
A number of the gold proofs were issued with the wrong obverse die before the error was noticed. The Royal Mint then wrote to customers asking them to return the wrong coin for replacement. One customer asked our opinion at the time, and we advised her to keep the error rather than return it, as we believed the error would probably be more valuable.
Postage & Packing:
UK: At buyer's Risk £3.50 or
Fully Insured £9 (Usually by Royal Mail Special Delivery)
USA: Airmail at buyer's risk $10 or
Fully Insured $20
For further details, please see our Postage & Packing page.
1994 Coins Index
1994 Royal Mint Trial Bi-Metallic Two Pound
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Order Form - Rest of World
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