So you’ve noticed something’s not quite right with the £2 coin you’ve just found in your change. A quick google search of the strange variation you’ve noticed brings up a plethora of eBay listings and news articles claiming that you’ve just hit the jackpot and your ‘error’ coin is worth a small fortune!
Sadly, in this instance Google is not your friend and whilst genuine errors are out there, so too are a number of common mis-strikes and myths, or even fakes that have been manipulated to look like an error.
So what is the difference between a mis-strike and an error I hear you ask.
Put simply, a true error is caused by human mistake, such as the wrong die or metal being used to strike a coin, whereas a mis-strike is created by the mass production process, as hundreds of thousands of coins are struck, meaning variations are bound to occur, especially when dies and machinery become worn.
But which mis-strikes on the bi-metallic £2 coin should you be aware of?
I recently read Scott Wren’s article, ‘Bi-metallic “errors”… Why two is better than one’ published in Coin News which highlights some of the mis-strikes found on £2 coins and how their bi-metallic quality causes the differences to be something entirely more spectacular than those found on monometallic (single metal) coins.
Striking bi-metallic coins
In order to understand why mis-strikes on bi-metallic coins are often more pronounced than monometallic coins, it’s first a good idea to look into how these coins are produced.
When striking £2 coins, the first step is to punch a hole through a blank planchet to create the outer section. The inner core is taken from a different metal, sized to fit inside the outer ring.
A groove is milled around the edge of the inner core so that when both parts are struck together, the metals will fuse as the outer ring deforms and spread into the groove, locking it into place.
Now that we know how £2 coins are struck, here are some of the mis-strikes and errors that can occur in the process…
The following images of variations found on £2 coins have been taken from Coin News for use in this blog.
Figure 1 shows how the inner core was punched out from the end of the sheet of metal used for blanks, forming a straight or ragged edge clip.
Whilst this also occurs with monometallic coins, the pairing with an outer ring exposes a large gap which is much more noticeable.
The Royal Mint strike millions of coins each year so it is inevitable that variances will occur during the striking process and can’t always be picked up during quality control, despite the fact that this particular coin would weigh less than the standard 12g £2 coin. However, a small quantity of coins do sometimes manage to slip through the net and as i’m sure you’ll agree, they make for interesting collecting.
But before you pay over the odds for one of these coins, beware of fakers! Some coins are manipulated to look like mis-strikes or error coins and sold to unsuspecting buyers. Check the clipped planchet edge of the coin to see if it’s genuine by making sure the detail of the design fades away towards the edge rather than suddenly stopping, which would indicate the coin had been cut.
Off Centre Inner Core
Figure 2 shows an inner core which hasn’t been united properly prior to being struck.
Due to the way the inner and outer core are struck together with the two metals being lined up and then fused together during striking, a misalignment will mean that the inner core spills into the outer ring, as seen in the image above. There might also be a gap between the two metals on the opposing join.
This mis-strike is thought to be fairly common on the bi-metallic 12 sided £1 coin as well as some of the Technology £2 coins and even foreign bimetallic coins, but have you ever spotted one in your change?
Faulty Outer Ring
Figure 3 shows a faulty planchet or outer ring, where the inner core is exposed.
In the image above, you can actually see the specific engineering design features where the inner core is grooved to help the metal flow bond to the outer ring and fuse during striking.
Similar to the first mis-strike we looked at, this could be caused by a clipped planchet, this time created when the outer ring was punched, however coins like this may also be caused by tampering post striking, for example by fakers trying to replace the inner core of a £2 with another coin to pass off as a rare error.
The Holy Grail of Bi-metallic ‘Errors’
Figure 4 is described as the Holy Grail of bimetallic ‘errors’ and is the result of the nickel-brass £2 blank not having the inner core section punched out before being struck.
This means that the £2 coin is made from one full piece of nickel-brass, completely contrasting the very idea of a bimetallic coin.
A 2007 monometallic £2 was verified by The Royal Mint and in the email confirming the mis-strike it was mentioned that they had only seen 4-5 similar coins before.
This rare striking error is highly sought after and coins have achieved extraordinary prices in private sales and auctions.
Finally, figure 5 shows a £2 design struck on the wrong planchet – a blank normally used to strike a different coin.
As The Royal Mint strikes a huge quantity of coins for different denominations and even different countries, blanks can sometimes end up in the wrong striking chamber, creating a wrong or foreign planchet error.
This is actually down to human error rather than a mis-strike and the coins would normally be picked out during quality control, however some have been spotted in circulation, not only on the £2 coin, but on various different denominations across UK coins and world wide.
One of the most famous examples in the UK is the silver 2p – a 2p coin struck on to a 10p blank which sold for 67,580 times its face value at auction.
So how much is my ‘error’ coin worth?
These mis-strikes and errors certainly make for interesting collecting and the rarer variations, such as monometallic £2 coins could certainly sell for over face value.
In fact, one such monometallic mis-strike found on a 2007 Technology £2 is estimated to be worth over £1,000!
Ultimately, as with all coins, it’s all down to how much an individual collector is willing to pay to add that coin to their collection.
If you’ve found a £2 coin with a mis-strike, it’s certainly worth having it verified and authenticated by The Royal Mint, who will supply a letter detailing their findings.
So have you found any interesting variations on your bimetallic £2 coins? Let us know in the comments below!
With thanks to Scott Wren from Coin News.
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