Coins of England and Great Britain

('Coins of the UK')

by Tony Clayton


10 - Decimal Two Pounds


Decimal One Pound <<-- : -->> Decimal Crowns, 25p and 5 pounds

Values of Decimal 1 and 2 coins
Pictures of Decimal Two Pound coins


Important Note Regarding Two Pound Coins: There is an urban legend circulating that two pound coins where the Queen is wearing a necklace are rare and worth a lot of money. This is false.

1997-dated 2 coins of the UK ("the one with the necklace") are normal circulating issues. All pieces dated 1997 have exactly the same design and are not in any way unusual or rare, as over 13 million were minted. Their frequency in change has gone down because of hoarding, and because of the increasing number of later issues entering circulation.

In circulated condition such coins are worth just two pounds, i.e. face value.

The Queen's portrait was changed in 1998 for all denominations, as it was in 1985 and 1968. For more details on the 2 series, see below.


Introduction


A two pound coin in the same nickel brass alloy as the pound coin (thought to be 70% copper, 24½% zinc and 5½% nickel) was first introduced in 1986 as a commemorative coin, although it was legal tender and was accepted by shops. However, quantities were never in sufficient numbers for general circulation to take place.

In 1997 a new design, a bimetallic coin of the same diameter but thinner, was to be introduced for general circulation, but the issue was postponed to June 1998 because of technical problems regarding the acceptance of the coins by vending machines. Coins dated both 1997 and 1998 were then placed into circulation.


Edge Inscriptions


All bimetallic two pound coins, and some of the pre-1987 commemorative two pound coins, have an edge inscription as a security measure.

As the edge inscriptions are stamped on the edge of blank coins before striking, they can (and do) appear either way up in theoretically equal quantities.


Single Metal Commemorative Issues, 1986 - 1996


In 1986 a nickel-brass two pound coin was issued to commemorate the 13th Commonwealth Games held in Scotland that year.

During the succeeding years a total of six further commemorative two pound coins were issued.

The coin weighs 15.98 grams and has a diameter of 28.40 mm. This is exactly the same specification as the gold two pound coin, and indeed in some years the same design has been struck as the year's gold issue. The edge of all issues is milled, although some have an additional edge inscription.

The first six issues have the same obverse:

Second Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA F D starting low left, TWO POUNDS below.

  1. First type

    Reverse: Thistle on St Andrews Cross, 1986 above.
    Edge: XIII COMMONWEALTH GAMES SCOTLAND 1986

    Issued to celebrate the 1986 Commonwealth Games held in Edinburgh.

  2. Second type

    Reverse: Intertwined W and M with mace, English crown above, 1689 over 1989 below TERCENTENARY OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS above.
    Edge: Milled, no inscription

    Designed by John Lubban, also famous as the illustrator of Paddington Bear books

  3. Third type

    Reverse: Intertwined W and M with mace, Scottish crown above, 1689 over 1989 below TERCENTENARY OF THE CLAIM OF RIGHT above.
    Edge: Milled, no inscription

    Designed by John Lubban.

    These last two coins were issued at the same time, but the Scottish version is very much scarcer than the English, and is arguably the scarcest of all the two pound coins.

  4. Fourth type

    Reverse: Seal of Bank of England, W & M intertwined surmounted by crown above Legend: Bank of England 1694 1994
    Edge: SIC VOS NON VOBIS

    Issued to celebrate the Tercentenary of Bank of England

  5. Fifth type

    Reverse: Dove carrying Olive Branch (no inscription)
    Edge: 1945 IN PEACE GOODWILL 1995

    A most unusual coin in that it bears the date only on the edge. It commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

  6. Sixth type

    Reverse: Array of flags, 50 and UN symbol Legend: NATIONS UNITED FOR PEACE 1945 - 1995.
    Edge: Milled

    Issued to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations

  7. Seventh type

    Obverse: as before but dished surface and no edge beads
    Reverse: Representation of Football, 1996 in centre, 16 small rings, to represent the 16 finalists, no edge beads. Also exists as a silver proof.
    Edge: TENTH EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP


Bi-metallic Two Pounds, 1997 to date


In 1997 a new design was produced for circulation. It was the first bi-metallic coin issued in the UK since the tin farthings with a copper plug in 1692. Due to technical difficulties the new coins were not released by banks until the middle of 1998.

The coin is 12.00 grams in weight, and 28.40 mm diameter, thus maintaining the same diameter as, but weighing less than, the former type. It has a cupro-nickel inner disc and a nickel-brass outer ring, the composition for which is 76% Cu, 20% Zn and 4% Ni.

Proof versions in silver and gold are known. The former has gold layering for the outer ring.

  1. Obverse: Second Portrait in cupronickel centre, with inscription ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA F D starting low left in the nickel-brass ring.
    Reverse: Symbolic representation of technological development from the Iron Age, through the Industrial Revolution and the Electronic Age to the Internet. TWO POUNDS above, 1997 below. Designed by Bruce Rushin.
    Edge: STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS

    Issued in 1997 in sets, and now freely available in circulation. They were not formally issued for circulation until June 1998. The delay was because of production difficulties which resulted in rejection by coin-operated machines as the metallic bonding between the two metals was not as consistent as expected.
    This is the coin regarding which a rumour circulated a few years ago, namely that 2 coins where the queen is wearing a necklace are rare. This is definitely not true, although the rumour did cause them to disappear from circulation, and they are not often seen, and anyway they now form a significant minority of two pound coins in circulation. A total of 13.73 million were issued, and uncirculated examples are readily available in 1997 Royal Mint sets.

  2. Obverse: Third Portrait in cupronickel centre, with inscription ELIZABETH II DEI GRA REG FID DEF starting low left in the nickel-brass ring.
    Reverse: Symbolic representation of technological development from the Iron Age, through the Industrial Revolution and the Electronic Age to the Internet. TWO POUNDS above, {date} below.
    Edge: STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS

    First issued for circulation in June 1998. Proof and uncirculated copies were previously available in Mint sets. 1999 versions are in circulation, but were not available in the proof or uncirculated sets, which contained the Rugby version. All years from 1998 to 2011 and 2013 can be found in circulation. The 2012 versions are at present only available in the Royal Mint proof and uncirculated sets.

  3. Obverse: Third Portrait in cupronickel centre, with inscription ELIZABETH II DEI GRA REG FID DEF starting low left in the nickel-brass ring.
    Reverse: Symbolic representation of a stadium with rugby ball and goalposts. 1999 above, TWO POUNDS below. Designed by Ron Dutton.
    Edge: RUGBY WORLD CUP 1999

    Issued in 1999. Proof and uncirculated copies are available in Mint sets. About 4.9 million have been put into circulation.

  4. Obverse: Third Portrait in cupronickel centre, with inscription ELIZABETH II DEI GRA REG FID DEF starting low left in the nickel-brass ring.
    Reverse: Symbolic representation of Marconi's successful transatlantic wireless transmission of 1901, TWO POUNDS below. Designed by Robert Evans.
    Edge: WIRELESS BRIDGES THE ATLANTIC...MARCONI 1901...

    Issued in 2001.

  5. Obverse: Third Portrait in cupronickel centre, with inscription ELIZABETH II DEI GRA REG FID DEF starting low left in the nickel-brass ring.
    Reverse: XVII COMMONWEALTH GAMES 2002 around athlete holding a banner, 2 in front and national flag of England behind.
    Edge: SPIRIT OF FRIENDSHIP MANCHESTER 2002

    Issued in 2002.

  6. Obverse: Third Portrait in cupronickel centre, with inscription ELIZABETH II DEI GRA REG FID DEF starting low left in the nickel-brass ring.
    Reverse: XVII COMMONWEALTH GAMES 2002 around athlete holding a banner, 2 in front and national flag of Scotland behind.
    Edge: SPIRIT OF FRIENDSHIP MANCHESTER 2002

    Issued in 2002.

  7. Obverse: Third Portrait in cupronickel centre, with inscription ELIZABETH II DEI GRA REG FID DEF starting low left in the nickel-brass ring.
    Reverse: XVII COMMONWEALTH GAMES 2002 around athlete holding a banner, 2 in front and national flag of Wales behind.
    Edge: SPIRIT OF FRIENDSHIP MANCHESTER 2002

    Issued in 2002.

  8. Obverse: Third Portrait in cupronickel centre, with inscription ELIZABETH II DEI GRA REG FID DEF starting low left in the nickel-brass ring.
    Reverse: XVII COMMONWEALTH GAMES 2002 around athlete holding a banner, 2 in front and national flag of Northern Ireland behind.
    Edge: SPIRIT OF FRIENDSHIP MANCHESTER 2002

    Issued in 2002.
    These four designs are rarely seen in circulation, although uncirculated examples are readily found in Royal Mint sets, as usual. However, they were not present in the normal 2002 Brilliant Uncirculated set, being issued in a separate folder.

  9. Obverse: Third Portrait in cupronickel centre, with inscription ELIZABETH II DEI GRA REG FID DEF starting low left in the nickel-brass ring.
    Reverse: Representation of the DNA Double Helix, DNA DOUBLE HELIX above, 1953 TWO POUNDS 2003 below. Designed by John Mills.
    Edge: DEOXYRIBONUCLEIC ACID

    Issued in 2003.

  10. Obverse: Third Portrait in cupronickel centre, with inscription ELIZABETH II DEI GRA REG FID DEF starting low left in the nickel-brass ring.
    Reverse: Representation of the first railway locomotive, ring of early rail around, TWO POUNDS above, R.TREVITHICK 1804 INVENTION INDUSTRY PROGRESS 2004 around. Designed by Robert Lowe.
    Edge: Pattern of arcs and lines representing railway viaducts (but unofficially I think it looks more like the fish-bellied rails used for the track at that time).

    Issued in 2004.

  11. Obverse: Third Portrait in cupronickel centre, with inscription ELIZABETH II DEI GRA REG FID DEF starting low left in the nickel-brass ring.
    Reverse: Maces, croziers and swords in 'Catherine Wheel' arrangement, stars representing fireworks around, 1605 2005 above, TWO POUNDS below. Designed by Peter Forster.
    Edge: REMEMBER REMEMBER THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER

    At least one copy is known with an edge inscribed STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS in error.

    Issued in 2005.

  12. Obverse: Third Portrait in cupronickel centre, with inscription ELIZABETH II DEI GRA REG FID DEF starting low left in the nickel-brass ring.
    Reverse: St.Pauls Cathedral with searchlight beams
    , two in a distinctive V formation TWO POUNDS above, 1945-2005 below, commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the end of WW2.
    Edge: IN VICTORY MAGNANIMITY IN PEACE GOODWILL.

    Issued in 2005.

  13. Obverse: Third Portrait in cupronickel centre, with inscription ELIZABETH II DEI GRA REG FID DEF starting low left in the nickel-brass ring.
    Reverse: A portrait of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Royal Albert Bridge, chains around. TWO POUNDS above, 2006 below, commemorating the life of Brunel. Designed by Rod Kelly.
    Edge: 1806-59 ISAMBARD KINGDOM BRUNEL ENGINEER.

    Issued in 2006.

  14. Obverse: Third Portrait in cupronickel centre, with inscription ELIZABETH II DEI GRA REG FID DEF starting low left in the nickel-brass ring.
    Reverse: Arches of Paddington Station, BRUNEL below. TWO POUNDS below, 2006 to top left, commemorating the achievements of Brunel. Designed by Robert Evans.
    Edge: SO MANY IRONS IN THE FIRE.

    Issued in 2006.

  15. Obverse: Third Portrait in cupronickel centre, with inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG FID DEF above, TWO POUNDS below, in the nickel-brass ring.
    Reverse: Broken chain and date 1807, the 0 of which is the broken link of the chain, AN ACT FOR THE ABOLITION OF THE SLAVE TRADE around, 2007 below, commemorating the end of the slave trade. Designed by David Gentleman. The initials DG do not appear on production coins intended for circulation.
    Edge: AM I NOT A MAN AND A BROTHER

    Issued in 2007

    n.b. there is a subtle difference between coins issued in sets (proof and uncirculated) and those issued for circulation. In the former the designers initials are visible to the right of the 7, and the field is relatively smooth. In the latter the field is rough and the initials are absent.

    One example has been reported with the smooth set type reverse but a normal style obverse with DEI GRATIA and without the TWO POUNDS below the portrait.
    This is almost certainly a mule between the Act of Union obverse and the Slave Trade reverse, coming from the preparation for the 'Uncirculated' sets.
    A further copy of a proof coin from a set has been reported with the edge inscription THE 4th OLYMPIAD LONDON in error.

  16. Obverse: Third Portrait in cupronickel centre, with inscription ELIZABETH II DEI GRA REG FID DEF starting low left in the nickel-brass ring.
    Reverse: design showing interlocking pattern of portcullis and national symbols, 1707 TWO 2007 POUNDS around, commemorating the Act of Union. Designed by Yvonne Holton.
    Edge: UNITED INTO ONE KINGDOM

    Issued in 2007.

  17. Obverse: Third Portrait in cupronickel centre, with inscription ELIZABETH II DEI GRA REG FID DEF starting low left in the nickel-brass ring.
    Reverse: design showing racetrack labelled 1908 TWO POUNDS 2008, LONDON OLYMPIC CENTENARY around, commemorating the Centenary of the 1908 Olympic Games held in London. Designed by Thomas T. Docherty.
    Edge: THE 4th OLYMPIAD LONDON

    Issued in 2008.

  18. Obverse: Third Portrait in cupronickel centre, with inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG FID DEF above, TWO POUNDS below, in the nickel-brass ring.
    Reverse: design showing hands exchanging Olympic Flag, BEIJING 2008 LONDON 2012 around, commemorating the 2008 Olympic Games handover. Designed by The Royal Mint Engraving Team.
    Edge: I CALL UPON THE YOUTH OF THE WORLD

    Issued in 2008.

  19. Obverse: Third Portrait in cupronickel centre, with inscription ELIZABETH II DEI GRA REG FID DEF in the nickel-brass ring.
    Reverse: design showing Charles Darwin facing a chimpanzee, 1809 DARWIN 2009 above, TWO POUNDS below
    , commemorating the Bicentenary of the Birth of Charles Darwin. Designed by Suzie Zamit.
    Edge: ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 1859

    Issued in 2009.

  20. Obverse: Third Portrait in cupronickel centre, with inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG FID DEF, 2009 below, in the nickel-brass ring.
    Reverse: design showing handwritten 'We'll take a cup of kindness yet, For auld lang syne', 1759 ROBERT BURNS 1796 above, TWO POUNDS below
    , commemorating the 250th Anniversary of the Birth of Robert Burns. Designed by The Royal Mint Engraving Team.
    Edge: SHOULD AULD ACQUAINTANCE BE FORGOT

    Issued in 2009.

  21. Obverse: Third Portrait in cupronickel centre, with inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG FID DEF above, 2010 below, in the nickel-brass ring.
    Reverse: design showing the hands of a nurse taking the pulse of a patient, 1820 FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE - 1910 above, TWO POUNDS below
    , commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the publication of Florence Nightingale's book 'Notes on Nursing'. Designed by Gordon Summers
    Edge: 150 YEARS OF NURSING

    Issued in 2010.

  22. Obverse: Third Portrait in cupronickel centre, with inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG FID DEF above, 2011 below, in the nickel-brass ring.
    Reverse: design showing the Mary Rose, THE MARY ROSE above, TWO POUNDS below
    , commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the launching of the Mary Rose, the remains of which are preserved in Portsmouth. Designed by John Bergdahl
    Edge: YOUR NOBLEST SHIPPE 1511

    To be issued in 2011. At present only available in Royal Mint sets.

  23. Obverse: Third Portrait in cupronickel centre, with inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG FID DEF above, TWO POUNDS below, in the nickel-brass ring.
    Reverse: design showing the first words of the Gospel According to St.John, KING JAMES BIBLE above, 1611-2011 below
    , commemorating the 400th Anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible Designed by Paul Stafford and Benjamin Wright
    Edge: THE AUTHORISED VERSION

    To be issued in 2011. At present only available in Royal Mint sets.

  24. Obverse: Third Portrait in cupronickel centre, with inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG FID DEF above, TWO POUNDS 2012 below, in the nickel-brass ring.
    Reverse: design showing a portrait of Charles Dickens using titles of his books with 1812 CHARLES DICKENS 1870 around
    , commemorating the 200th Anniversary of his birth. Designed by Matthew Dent
    Edge: SOMETHING WILL TURN UP

    Issued in 2012. Proofs also available in gold, silver piedfort, silver and base metal.

  25. Obverse: Third Portrait in cupronickel centre, with inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG FID DEF above, TWO POUNDS 2012 below, in the nickel-brass ring.
    Reverse: design showing a relay baton being passed with UK and Brazilian flags, LONDON 2012 to left, RIO 2016 to right
    . Designed by Jonathan Olliffe
    Edge: I CALL UPON THE YOUTH OF THE WORLD

    At present only available in Royal Mint Uncirculated packs, and as silver, silver piedfort, and gold proofs.

  26. Obverse: Third Portrait in cupronickel centre, with inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG FID DEF above, TWO POUNDS below, in the nickel-brass ring.
    Reverse: design showing a London Underground train, 1863 LONDON UNDERGROUND 2013 around. Designed by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby
    Edge: Pattern inspired by London Underground map.

    Issued in 2013.

  27. Obverse: Third Portrait in cupronickel centre, with inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG FID DEF above, TWO POUNDS below, in the nickel-brass ring.
    Reverse: design showing the London Underground roundel, 1863 above, 2013 below. Designed by Edwina Ellis
    Edge: MIND THE GAP

    Issued in 2013.

  28. Obverse: Third Portrait in cupronickel centre, with inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG FID DEF above, TWO POUNDS below, in the nickel-brass ring.
    Reverse: Shield as on a Spade Guinea, ANNIVERSARY OF THE GOLDEN GUINEA around, 2013 below. Designed by Anthony Smith
    Edge: WHAT IS A GUINEA? TIS A SPLENDID THING

    Seen in circulation. Also available in Royal Mint Uncirculated packs, and as silver and gold proofs.

  29. Obverse: Third Portrait in cupronickel centre, with inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG FID DEF above, TWO POUNDS below, in the nickel-brass ring.
    Reverse: Kitchener Your Country Needs You figure, THE FIRST WORLD WAR 1914-1918 above, 2014 below. Designed by John Bergdahl
    Edge: (not yet known)

    To be issued in 2014. At present only available in Royal Mint Uncirculated packs, and as silver and gold proofs.

  30. Obverse: Third Portrait in cupronickel centre, with inscription ELIZABETH II DEI GRA REG FID DEF around, in the nickel-brass ring.
    Reverse: Lighthouse lantern, 1514 TRINITY HOUSE 2014 above, TWO POUNDS below. Designed by Joe Whitlock Blundell with David Eccles
    Edge: (not yet known)

    To be issued in 2014. At present only available in Royal Mint Uncirculated packs, and as silver and gold proofs.

The motto STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS is a quotation of Sir Isaac Newton, who, in a letter, was acknowledging the debt he owed to the work of others who had gone before, saying 'If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants'.

Varieties of the edge inscription are known with missing letters, particularly the I in GIANTS. These are not uncommon. However, a copy of the Gunpowder Plot coin with the wrong edge inscription (i.e. the normal STANDING etc instead of REMEMBER etc) has been reported and such errors are likely to be very rare.


Acknowledgements

See my Main Coins Index page for acknowledgements

I am grateful to Phil McLoughlin for the information regarding John Lobban, and to the Royal Mint website for information on recent issues.


Links

Decimal One Pound <<-- : -->> Decimal Crowns, 25p and 5 pounds

Main Index
Values Index
Values of 1 and 2 coins.
Pictures Index
Pictures of Decimal Two Pound Coins

Help and Advice


Decimal Coins of UK - 10 - 2 Pounds
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v40 15th April 2014
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