With 37 different £2 coin designs in circulation, it’s very tough to choose a favourite, but one of mine is certainly the Great Fire of London £2, issued in 2016 to mark the 350th anniversary of one of the most well-known disasters to hit London.
The reverse of the coin, designed by Aaron West, depicts the city of London burning in flames from a distance and makes for an eye catching design which I’m sure many collectors love just as much as I do.
But are you lucky enough to have one of these coins in your collection?
Whilst this coin was previously considered ‘Less Common’ (as rated on our Scarcity Index), it has now been confirmed that the mintage figure for the Great Fire of London £2 was mistakenly listed and the coin is in fact rarer than we once thought…
To reflect the change to the Great Fire of London £2 coin’s mintage figure, we’ve updated our mintage charts to show you how rare this coin actually is compared to the other £2’s in circulation.
The Great Fire of London has actually jumped up 15 places on the mintage chart now that the correct figure of 1,625,000 has been confirmed.
The previous figure of 5,135,000 placed the coin in the middle of the pack, just slightly rarer than the Gunpowder Plot £2, however it can now be found amongst the London Underground £2 coins, nearer the top of the mintage chart.
These changes are also evident on our latest Scarcity Index update.
Whilst the coin has only moved up the index by 4 coin places, this is the biggest movement on the £2 index and the coin’s Scarcity Index score has actually jumped up from 18 to 34 – almost doubling from the previous index!
Historically, the Great Fire of London £2 has always scored in the mid to high teens, but the updated mintage figures now reflect the fact that the coin is in fact harder than previously believed to find in your change.
Have any other coins been affected?
It wasn’t just the Great Fire of London £2 coin which was affected by the updated mintage figures… There were in fact 4 coins from 2016 with previously incorrect figures.
The changes haven’t made much of an impact to either of these coin’s rankings for the Scarcity Index, with both coins actually moving down 1 place on the index pictured above.
With regards to our mintage figure charts, the two coins have simply swapped positions, as can be seen below.
With regards to 50p coins, the only coin affected was the 2016 Peter Rabbit 50p.
This relatively small increase has had no effect on the coin’s ranking on the Scarcity Index or position on the mintage figure chart, which can be seen below.
Whilst the changes to the mintage figures for the Shakespeare £2s and Peter Rabbit 50p have made minimal impact, it’s fair to say that with almost 4 million less Great Fire of London £2 coins in circulation than previously thought, the scarcity of this coin has definitely increased, making it even more special for those of you lucky enough to have one in your collection.
Add the Great Fire of London circulation £2 to your collection!
Following the updated mintage figures, I’m sure collectors will be keen to make sure this coin is added to their collection.
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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For those of you collecting date runs, you might have noticed that in 2017 The Royal Mint didn’t strike a single £2 or 20p coin for general circulation.
In 2016, nearly 29 million £2 coins and almost 213 million 20p coins were struck for circulation, however the next year that number dropped to 0.
From the graph above, you’ll notice that whilst most denominations had relatively few coins struck in 2017 compared to 2016, the mintage figure for £1 coins for both years is comparatively very high.
Introduction of the new £1
It’s thought that the introduction of the new 12 sided £1 coin to replace the old round pound in 2017 affected the demand for the other coins in circulation.
This could be down to the fact that the public were emptying their piggy banks and checking their loose change to make sure their old pound coins were used up before shops stopped accepting them. In doing so, they also ended up spending other coins in their change, meaning there was plenty of cash to re-circulate, and not as much demand for new coins to be struck for circulation.
This coupled with the growth of card payments and the decline of cash transactions, as well as the impressive 25-30 year lifespan of UK coins meant that enough £2 and 20p coins could be re-circulated in 2017 and new coins weren’t needed.
The Royal Mint had been expecting this drop in demand, as had been seen in similar cases overseas when coins were withdrawn.
Where does demand for cash come from?
The Royal Mint does not actually have any real control over how and when coins go into circulation, as this is based on demand.
HM Treasury and the large cash distribution services run by the Post Office and some banks, as well as private operators handle, sort and distribute the billions of coins in circulation, even swapping stocks between themselves.
The Royal Mint and cash distribution services regularly review the amount of coins in circulation and it’s only when they are short of a particular denomination that stocks will be called from The Royal Mint, who act as the manufacturer of the coin on behalf of the Treasury.
Surplus coins will be re-circulated before new coins are released.
Rare 50p coins from 2017
Whilst more 50p coins were struck in 2017 than 2016, two 2017 designs in particular actually have some of the lowest mintage figures of any 50p coins in circulation, excluding the Olympic 50p series.
The 2017 Royal Shield actually comes in as the second rarest 50p in circulation, closely followed by the 2017 Sir Isaac Newton 50p.
Where can I find the 2017 £2 and 20p coins?
Whilst no £2 or 20p coins were issued for circulation in 2017, brilliant uncirculated commemorative coins were still issued, including the Jane Austen and First World War Aviation £2 coins.
These coins, along with the 2017 Britannia £2 and the 2017 20p which weren’t issued for circulation were also featured in brilliant uncirculated quality within the 2017 Annual Coin Set, which has now sold out at The Royal Mint.
This means that the only way to get hold of these coins is to purchase the set on the secondary market, with prices typically around £65, although some sets have sold for over £100.
So far the 2018 £2 coins haven’t been released into circulation and whilst the 2019 Royal Shield 50p has been seen in circulation, we’re yet to hear if any of the other 2019 coins will turn up in our change.
Do you think the move towards a cashless society could be on the horizon, or are we still recovering from the surplus cash flow in 2017? Let us know in the comments below!
Secure the commemorative coins from 2017 for your collection!
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