With some truly fantastic releases recently, the UK has fallen head over heels for the 50p, with many collectors focusing on hunting down these seven sided gems for their collection.
But whilst collectors are busy scouring their change to find the latest and greatest 50p releases, the £2 coin, it seems, has taken a bit of a back seat…
So why should you be collecting £2 coins?
In this blog, we’ll take a look at which rare coins should take pride of place in your collection, which potential error coins might be out there and we’ll also share with you our top three £2 coins to look out for.
Rare and Error Coins
With over 37 different UK £2 coin designs in circulation, it’s worth paying attention to the £2 coins in your change, as you never know when you might come across something extra special…
2002 Commonwealth Games NI £2
The 2002 Commonwealth Games England £2 Coin is officially the most scarce £2 coin in the UK, ranking as 100 on our Scarcity Index.
Four coins were released in 2002 to celebrate the Commonwealth Games and at first glance, you might struggle to spot the difference between them. They all feature the same running athlete trailing a banner behind. But each has a different cameo, representing each of the four constituent parts of the United Kingdom.
The fact that this coin is so hard to spot and has such a low mintage of just 485,500 means that the Commonwealth Games NI £2 is the holy grail of £2 coin collections.
2015 Britannia £2
It wasn’t until 2016, when The Mint released the mintage figures for the 2015 coins, that collectors realised just how special the new definitive £2 coin was.
Only 650,000 of the 2015 date Britannia £2 coins had been stuck for circulation, making it one of the most scarce UK £2 coins ever issued! So scarce in fact that there were fewer of this coin than the England and the Scotland coins from the famous 2002 Commonwealth Games series.
This makes the 2015 Britannia £2 joint third scarcest £2 coin in circulation, alongside the Navy £2.
Inverted Effigy Britannia £2
First discovered by a Change Checker, and later confirmed as a genuine error by The Royal Mint, this unusual strike appears on a handful of the 2015 Britannia £2 Coins.
The Royal Mint has accounted for the seemingly impossible misalignment of the Queen’s effigy as “almost certainly the result of one of the dies working loose and rotating during the striking process”.
The result is that the Queen’s head is offset by around 150 degrees compared to the Britannia design on the reverse of the coin.
We analysed 5,000 circulation Britannia £2 coins and our results suggested that the Inverted Effigy may have affected as few as 1 in 200 of the coins struck – in other words around just 3,250 coins.
2015 Navy with Flag
We already know the 2015 Navy is one of the rarest £2 coins with just 650,000 struck for circulation, however Change Checkers have speculated whether there are two different design variations…
The original Navy £2 design (left) shows the coin without any markings on the top right of the mast, but the coin on the right looks like it has a flying flag.
The Royal Mint strike up to 5 billion coins a year and from time to time debris can get caught between the die and the coin whilst striking. It just so happens that this bit of debris has caused the markings on these coins to look like a flying flag on the ship – fuelling speculation that two different variations were struck.
Whilst it doesn’t add any extra value to the coin, it’s certainly one to look out for and makes for interesting collecting.
2005 ‘Pemember, Pemember’ Gunpowder Plot £2
The 2005 Gunpowder Plot £2 commemorates the 400th anniversary of Guy Fawkes’ failed assassination attempt on King James I, but the coin is more familiar to collectors for having a spelling mistake in the edge inscription. The timeless quote “Remember, remember the fifth of November” has been found with various combinations of Pemember, Pemembep, Novemebep and so on. The common factor here is the ‘R’ which appears as a ‘P’.
Sadly for collectors this is apparently not a striking error. The explanation from the Royal Mint is that the down-stroke of the R coincides with the milling around the edge, and as the coin has worn over time, the letter has become less defined. This categorical statement from the Mint means that any mark-up in price for a supposed ‘error’ is completely unjustified, and although it makes the coin more interesting, it is not the mistake which it is often perceived to be.
1997 Maklouf ‘Queen with a Necklace’ £2
The ‘Queen with a Necklace’ £2 has an enduring legacy in the collecting world. The very first bi-metallic £2 coins were issued in 1997, just prior to the Queen’s portrait change in 1998. This meant that the older portrait by Raphael Maklouf was only used for one year: 1997. His version featured Queen Elizabeth II wearing a necklace, which is how the nickname was derived.
When the portrait change was announced, the new £2 coins were snapped up by collectors believing them to be a future rarity. As it turned out, a mintage of nearly 14 million means the ‘Queen with a Necklace’ £2 is not one of the rarest coins in circulation. Nevertheless, with only one year of issue, it still holds an undeniable interest for collectors.
2007 Abolition of Slavery £2
There is a misconception that there were two types of the Abolition of Slavery £2 coin struck for circulation. It is true that two versions of the coins exist – one has a textured finish whereas the other has a smooth finish and features the artist, David Gentleman’s initials (circled).
The key difference is that only the textured version was struck for circulation, and if you find one of the smoother types in your change, you have actually found a coin which has been taken out of a presentation pack. This makes it considerably rarer than the circulating version, so it is worth keeping rather than spending!
The Top Three £2 Coins to Collect
When it comes to collecting, £2 coins are some of our favourites to look out for, but out of the rare and wonderful coins mentioned above, here are our top three £2 coins to collect.
1) It’s no surprise that the UK’s scarcest £2 coin in circulation should come in first place, but you’ll not only have to be very lucky to come across one, you’ll also have to be eagle eyed to spot the correct flag for the Commonwealth Games Northern Ireland £2 coin.
2) Coming in close second is the third scarcest £2 coin, but can you challenge yourself to see if you can find one with the ‘flag’ variation as mentioned above?
3) And as our third placed coin, the 2015 Britannia actually sits in joint third place as the UK’s scarcest £2 in circulation and our challenge to you is to try and find the inverted effigy of this coin too!
Check out how we got on with our own £2 coin hunt and all the fantastic designs we were able to find in a £500 bank bag:
The £2 coins that haven’t entered circulation…
You may have noticed a lack of 2017 coins in your change, as to date The Royal Mint haven’t confirmed if they will enter circulation.
This all depends on demand for specific denominations at the time as UK Banks and Post Offices may not request every denomination every year if there is already sufficient coin in circulation.
Based on The Royal Mint’s figures, we do know that no 2017 Britannia coins were struck for circulation. But there have been 13 other coins designs issued since 2017 that we are yet to find in our change, including:
- Jane Austen
- WW1 Aviation
- RAF Badge
- RAF Spitfire
- RAF Vulcan
- RAF Sea King
- RAF Lightning
- Captain Cook
- Samuel Pepys
- D-Day Landings
All of these coins are available to purchase in Brilliant Uncirculated quality here, but we will of course be the first to update you as soon as we have more information on their potential release.
A Treasure Hunt
It can be quite a challenge tracking down every single £2 coin for a complete collection. Remember, if you’re struggling to find those last few coins in your change, you can source them online, in auctions, on Facebook coin groups and of course by swapping with like-minded collectors on our web app.
If you’re interested in coin collecting, our Change Checker web app is completely free to use and allows users to:
– Find and identify the coins in their pocket
– Collect and track the coins they have
– Swap their spare coins with other Change Checkers
Sign up today at: www.changechecker.org/app