The £2 coin that never was…

A £2 coin is a familiar sight to us – the gold coloured outer ring with the silver-coloured inner section is instantly recognisable in our loose change. That bi-metallic style was first issued for general circulation in 1997.

But did you know that the very first version was actually struck in 1994?

Not many people know it exists, but it is highly sought after by collectors.

Royal Mint Trial £2 Coin

The reverse design of the trial piece features a three-masted sailing ship – thought to be the Mayflower

The reason this coin has remained largely unknown is that it was only issued as a trial piece, and was never legal tender. Trial pieces are used by the Royal Mint to test the minting process of a new coin, and to help the automatic vending industry re-calibrate their machines in preparation.

Other than the handful given as samples for testing, this trial £2 coin was only ever issued in a presentation pack (pictured) and was billed as “The United Kingdom’s first bi-colour coin”.

The packs contained examples of the outer and inner blanks and a nickel-brass ring to demonstrate the stages of production involved with this innovative new style.


The £2 trial pieces were only made available to the general public in presentation packs

The trialled reverse design features a three-masted sailing ship. Although the ship is not named, it is likely to be the Mayflower, which set sail from Plymouth to America to establish the first permanent New-England colony. The outer ring bears the inscription Royal Mint Trial with the date, 1994.

So, how rare are these 1994 trial £2 coins?

There were just over 4,500 packs issued which makes it an incredibly rare example of a bi-metallic £2 coin.

“…more than 100 times rarer than the
rarest £2 coin in circulation.”

To put that into perspective, the £2 coin with the lowest mintage currently in circulation is the 2002 Commonwealth Games Northern Ireland design. It has a mintage of 485,500. This means the 1994 trial piece is more than 100 times rarer than the rarest £2 coin in circulation.

They are not easy to get hold of, though. If you have one, you are in a very select group of collectors. These packs often sell for well into three figures on auction websites such as ebay. Not a bad return for a £2 coin!

If you’re interested in coin collecting, our Change Checker web app is completely free to use and allows users to:

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  1. Ken on May 1, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    I have about 10 of these coins that were issued for test purposes. What is the market for these individual coins. I was given them in 1994 and they have never been out of my possession.

  2. Andy coe on April 25, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    I have one of the trial packs you refer to above but it has the inner blank missing in the lower left compartment yet all the other packs do? Can anyone tell me anything about this ?

    • Mark Liversidge on April 27, 2015 at 11:07 am

      Hi Andy, unless your pack has been opened and the inner blank removed, this could be an error in production. It is unlikely that yours is a one-off, but it could potentially put your rare pack in an even rarer category!

      • Andy coe on April 27, 2015 at 11:10 am

        No has deffinatly not been opened! Thanks for taking time to reply ! 🙂