Two pounds (British coin)
|Value||2 pounds sterling|
|Edge||Milled with incuse lettering|
|Composition||Outer ring: 76% Cu, 20% Zn and 4% Ni
Centre: 75% Cu , 25% Ni
|Years of minting||1997–present|
|Design||Queen Elizabeth II|
The British two pound (£2) coin was first issued as a commemorative coin in 1986 to celebrate the Commonwealth Games in Scotland. Six further commemorative issues followed between 1989 and 1996. These coins did not circulate in large numbers.
After a review of the United Kingdom coinage, it was decided that a general-circulation £2 coin was needed, and a new bi-metallic design was issued on 15 June 1998 (dated 1997).
Bi-metallic coin (1997 to present)
This 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 in the UK. The coin consists of an outer yellow metal nickel-brass ring made from 76% copper, 20% zinc, and 4% nickel, and an inner steel-coloured cupro-nickel disc made from 75% copper, 25% nickel. The coin weighs 12 grams and is 28.4 millimetres in diameter.
The design itself was first tried out 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 XLVI, 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. An oddity of the design is that it depicts nineteen interlocking gears. Because there is an odd number of them, the mechanism could not actually turn (except as 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." (Newton was Warden and later Master of the Royal Mint.)
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, a claim which had been true of some early mintings of the similarly bimetallic Canadian 2 dollar coin.
As of 31 March 2013 there were an estimated 394 million £2 coins in circulation.
- 1997 ~ 13,734,625
- 1998 ~ 91,110,375
- 1999 ~ 38,652,000
- 2000 ~ 25,770,000
- 2001 ~ 39,542,750
- 2002 ~ 151,000
- 2003 ~ 21,830,250
- 2004 ~ 16,986,000
- 2005 ~ 19,168,750
- 2006 ~ 32,095,500
- 2007 ~ 26,260,000
- 2008 ~ 31,935,000
- 2009 ~ 15,931,000
- 2010 ~ 13,065,000
- 2011 ~ 26,390,030
- 2012 ~ 3,965,000 
Due to the coin being bi-metallic it is difficult to reproduce. Most counterfeits that have been produced have a painted outer ring which soon wears off, and are easy to detect and deface.
This denomination is now commonly used for commemorative purposes. 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 normal coin).
|1999: Rugby World Cup.
|2001: Transatlantic radio centenary.
|2002: Commonwealth Games, Manchester (English issue).
|2002: Commonwealth Games, Manchester (Welsh issue).
|2002: Commonwealth Games, Manchester (Northern Irish issue).
|2002: Commonwealth Games, Manchester (Scottish issue).
|2003: 50th anniversary of the discovery of the structure of DNA.
|2004: Bicentenary of the first railway locomotive.
|2005: 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot.
|2005: 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
|2006: Bicentenary of the birth of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
|2006: Bicentenary of the birth of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
|2007: Bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire.
|2007: Tercentenary of the Acts of Union 1707.
|2008: 100th anniversary of the 1908 London Summer Olympics.
|2008: London 2012 Olympiad Handover.
|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.
|2010: 100th anniversary of the death of Florence Nightingale and the 150th anniversary of publication of Notes on Nursing.
|2011: 400th Anniversary of the King James Bible.
|2011: 500th Anniversary of the maiden voyage of the Mary Rose.
|2012: 200th Anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens.
|2012: The London 2012 Handover to Rio.
|2013: 150th anniversary of the London Underground - The Train.
|2013: 150th anniversary of the London Underground - The Roundel.
|2013: 350th anniversary of the first minting of the guinea.|
The unimetallic coin (1986–1996)
Between 1986 and 1996 a series of unimetallic £2 coins were struck to commemorate special occasions. Although legal tender and accepted by shops, these coins have never been common in everyday circulation.
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 than their bimetallic successors, making them unsuitable for vending machines.
There were seven issues of this coin, with the following reverses and inscriptions:
|1986: 13th Commonwealth Games, held in Scotland.
|1989: Tercentenary of the English Bill of Rights.|
|1989: Tercentenary of the Scottish Claim of Right.|
|1994: Tercentenary of the Bank of England.|
|1995: 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
|1995: 50th anniversary of the United Nations.
|1996: Euro 96 European Football Championships.
Unimetallic commemorative £2 pound coins made:
- 1986 ~ 8,212,184
- 1989 ~ 4,777,891
- 1994 ~ 1,443,116
- 1995 ~ 6,056,506
- 1996 ~ 5,141,350
- Two Pound Coin Designs and Specifications, Royal Mint
- "Estimated value and number of coins in circulation, 31 March 2013". Royal Mint. 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-01.
- United Kingdom decimal coins issued into general circulation, Royal Mint
- Royal Mint 2008 Standard Proof Coin Set
- The London Gazette: . 10 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-05.
- "House of Commons Hansard Ministerial Statements for 12 July 2007". Retrieved 2008-04-04.
- "2009 Charles Darwin & Robert Burns Gold Proof Two Pound Coin". Retrieved 2009-02-02.
- Micawber quote on Dickens bicentenary coin Daily Mail , 7 December 2011
- "Commemorative £2 coins struck to circulating standard, 1986-96". Royal Mint. 2008. Retrieved 2012-11-24.
- Royal Mint – £2 coin
- Coins of the UK – Decimal £2 Coins
- The Pemember 'error' on the £2 Gunpowder Plot commemorative