In 1986, a brand new UK denomination was introduced in the form of a £2 coin.

These original £2 coins were never commonly found in circulation, as they were mainly struck for collectors. This made them much rarer than their successor, the bi-metallic £2 coin, as their mintage figures were much lower.

The pre-1997 £2 coins are still legal tender but they’re not used in circulation and banks/shops can refuse to accept them. Despite this, they still remain incredibly popular amongst collectors!

So, in this blog, we’ve put together a guide to the pre-1997 £2 coins, including everything you need to know about these collectable commemoratives.

What are old specification £2 coins?

The £2 coin has changed in its appearance since it’s first introduction in 1986…

The familiar, fully circulating bi-metallic £2 coin, was only introduced in 1998 and we’ve seen already seen over 50 different designs in total!

But prior to this, single-coloured, nickel-brass £2 coins were issued, purely to mark special occasions.

Between 1986 and 1996, there were seven different designs of the single-coloured £2 coins.

The Pre-1997 UK £2 Coins

Spot the difference…

Pre-1997 (old specification)1997 onwards (new specification)
Weight15.976g12g
Diameter28.4mm28.4mm
MetalNickel-brassOuter Nickel-Brass
Inner Cupro-Nickel
Obverse Effigy1969-1985 – 2nd Portrait, Arnold Machin
1985-1997 – 3rd Portrait, Raphael Maklouf
1997-2015 – 4th Portrait, Ian Rank-Broadley
2015-onwards – 5th Portrait, Jody Clark

As you can see, although the diameter of the £2 coin stayed the same, the weight was significantly heavier in the pre-1997 £2 coins!

The metal composition also changed so that the new bi-metallic coin could be distinguishable from the other coins in circulation.

So, how many of these coins were issued? Let’s take a look at our Pre-1997 £2 Mintage Chart and see..

Pre-1997 £2 Coin Mintage Chart

You might have spotted the top coin in our chart has a mintage of JUST 381,400! Let’s take a look at each of these coins in closer detail to get the full story…

1986 Commonwealth Games

Fact file:

  • Year of issue: 1986
  • Obverse designer: Arnold Machin
  • Reverse designer: Norman Sillman
  • Mintage: 8,212,184
1986 Commonwealth Games £2

The 1986 Commonwealth Games £2 coin changed the face of UK commemorative coins, being the first of its denomination to be struck and the first British coin being issued to commemorate a sporting event.

The thirteenth Commonwealth Games were held in Edinburgh in 1986, and are well remembered for being boycotted by 32 of the 59 eligible countries who did not agree with Britain’s sporting connections to South Africa during the Apartheid era.

The reverse design features a thistle encircled by a laurel wreath over the cross of St Andrew.

1996 Football

Fact file:

  • Year of issue: 1996
  • Obverse designer: Raphael Maklouf
  • Reverse designer: John Mills
  • Mintage: 5,141,350
1996 Football £2

In 1996, England hosted the 10th European football championship and a commemorative £2 coin was struck in celebration of football.

The reverse design resembles a football, and is accentuated by the unusual concave surface of the coin. The year of 1996 is prominent on the design and the sixteen small rings represent the sixteen teams competing in the tournament.

The eventual winners of the competition were Germany who knocked out hosts England in the semi-finals.

1995 Peace

Fact file:

  • Year of issue: 1995
  • Obverse designer: Raphael Maklouf
  • Reverse designer: John Mills
  • Mintage: 4,394,566
1995 Peace £2

This commemorative £2 was issued in 1995 to mark 50 years since the end of World War II.

Victory in Europe Day, or VE Day, is the 8th May 1945 when armed forces formally accepted the surrender of Nazi Germany. Upon the news, jubilant crowds sang and danced in the streets of London, New York, Paris and Moscow.

The reverse design by John Mills features a dove as “a symbol of aspiring peace; a calm, bountiful and optimistic image”.

1989 Bill of Right

Fact file:

  • Year of issue: 1989
  • Obverse designer: Raphael Maklouf
  • Reverse designer: John Lobban
  • Mintage: 4,392,825
1989 Bill of Rights

In 1689, Prince William and Mary accepted the Declaration of Rights prior to being offered the throne. This effectively shifted the balance of power from the Crown to Parliament and changed the course of British political history.

This £2 coin was issued in 1989 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of this landmark Act. There were 2 versions of the coin issued – English and Scottish.

This coin is the English reverse design , which features the Crown of St. Edward and the inscription ‘Tercentenary of the Bill of Rights’

1995 United Nations

Fact file:

  • Year of issue: 1995
  • Obverse designer: Raphael Maklouf
  • Reverse designer: Michael Rizzello
  • Mintage: 1,668,575
1995 United Nations

The United Nations was established in the aftermath of World War II with the aim of maintaining world peace and to work for social progress.

Since its creation in 1945, the UN has sought to resolve potential conflicts peacefully and fight against poverty, hunger and disease across the world.

This commemorative £2 coin issued in 1995 marks 50 years since the inception of the UN, and features flags of nations accompanying the 50th anniversary symbol.

1994 Bank of England

Fact file:

  • Year of issue: 1994
  • Obverse designer: Raphael Maklouf
  • Reverse designer: Leslie Durbin
  • Mintage: 1,668,575
1994 Bank of England

When William and Mary came to the throne, public finances were weak and the system of money and credit were in disarray.

The Bank of England was founded in 1694 to act as the Government’s banker and debt manager, and its position as the centre of the UK’s financial system is maintained to this day.

This commemorative £2 was issued in 1994 to mark its 300th anniversary. The reverse design features the original Corporate Seal of the Bank of England and distinctive Cypher of William and Mary.

1989 Claim of Right

Fact file:

  • Year of issue: 1989
  • Obverse designer: Raphael Maklouf
  • Reverse designer: John Lobban
  • Mintage: 381,400
1989 Claim of Right

This is the second coin to be issued in 1989 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of Prince William and Mary accepting the Declaration of Rights.

This Scottish reverse design features the Crown of Scotland and the inscription ‘Tercentenary of the Claim of Right’.

The mintage for this £2 however, is much lower. With just 381,400 issued, this technically makes it the rarest £2 coin ever! In comparison, the UK’s current rarest circulating £2 coin, the 2002 Commonwealth Games – Ireland, has a mintage of 485,500!


So hopefully our guide to the Pre-1997 £2 coins will help you along the way to expanding your collection!

What’s most exciting about all seven of these coins is that despite still being legal tender, they’re not used in circulation anymore and banks/shops can refuse to accept them. This makes these coins particularly sought-after by collectors!

Do you have any of these coins in your collection already? Let us know in the comments below!


Own the UK’s FIRST-EVER Commemorative £2 Coin!

1986 Commonwealth Games £2

To secure the UK 1986 Commonwealth Games £2 – the UK’s FIRST-EVER Commemorative £2 coin – click here >>

In recent years, the 50 pence piece has become the most collected coin in the world.

But here at Change Checker, we get asked a lot about the older specification 50p coins… “How many old 50ps are there to collect? How rare are my old 50ps? Can I still find these coins in circulation?” are just a few of the questions frequently asked.

So, we’ve put together a guide answering your questions and giving you the key facts we think you need to know about these out-of-circulation coins!

What are old specification 50ps?

The 50p emerged in 1969 as the first coin in the new decimal series.

It was also the world’s first seven-sided coin and has since become the most collected coin in the country!

In 1997, the specification for the 50p changed to the size and feel we’re familiar with today.

But, between 1969-1997, there were five 50p coins issued in these older specifications. But what was different about these coins?

All five pre-1997 50p coins.
Left to Right: Britannia New Pence, Entry to the EEC, Britannia Fifty Pence, EC Presidency, D-Day

Spot the difference

  Pre-1997 (old specification) 1998 onwards (new specification)
Weight 13.05g 8.00g
Diameter 30mm 27.30mm
Metal Cupro-Nickel Cupro-Nickel
Obverse
Effigy
1969-1985 – 2nd Portrait, Arnold Machin

1985-1997 – 3rd Portrait, Raphael Maklouf
1998-2015 – 4th Portrait, Ian Rank-Broadley

2015-onwards – 5th Portrait, Jody Clark

As you can see, despite the 50p retaining the same metal composition, the older specification was much bigger and heavier than the coin we’re used to today – imagine carrying around a bundle of those in your pockets!

These coins were removed from circulation when the new specifications were introduced, so you won’t come across these in your change.

What’s more, shop keepers and banks won’t accept these as legal tender, so we imagine a lot of these will have been kept by collectors for their private collections!

So, how many of these coins were issued? Let’s take a look at our Pre-1997 50p Mintage Chart and see..

You might have spotted the top coin in our chart has a mintage of JUST 109,000! Let’s take a look at each of these coins in closer detail to get the full story..

1969 Britannia New Pence

Fact File:

  • Year of Issue: 1969-1981
  • Obverse Designer: Arnold Machin
  • Reverse Designer: Christopher Ironside
  • Mintage: 594,917,500
1969 Britannia New Pence

The New Pence 50p was the first 50p coin ever issued and it featured Christopher Ironside’s iconic Britannia design.

Britannia first appeared on UK coinage in 1672 and since then has always been present on at least one denomination.

With a mintage of 594,917,500 is the most common of the pre-1997 50p designs, which is hardly surprising as it was the definitive 50p design between 1969-1981.

Despite it’s considerably high circulating mintage, this coin is still considered collectible as it’s no longer in circulation.

1973 Entry to the EEC 50p

Fact File:

  • Year of Issue: 1973
  • Obverse Designer: Arnold Machin
  • Reverse Designer: David Wynne
  • Mintage: 89,775,000
1973 Entry to the EEC 50p

This coin was issued to celebrate the UK’s entry to the EU (then called the European Economic Council or the EEC).

With a mintage of 89,775,000 it is less common that the definitive design but not the rarest out there!

It is still incredibly sought-after by collectors though as this was the FIRST-EVER commemorative 50p!

1982 Britannia Fifty Pence

Fact File:

  • Year of Issue: 1982/83/85
  • Obverse Designer: Arnold Machin (1982/82) Raphael Maklouf (1985)
  • Reverse Designer: Christopher Ironside
  • Mintage: 114,819,007
1982 Britannia Fifty Pence

In 1982 the ‘New Pence’ in the design was replaced with Fifty Pence as the design was no longer considered new.

Although still the definitive design, this coin was only issued in 1982, 1983 and 1985 and featured two different portraits of Her Majesty on the obverse! Machin in ’82 and ’83 and the new Maklouf portrait in ’85.

With a mintage of 114,819,007, it’s the second most-common of the Pre-1997 50ps.

1992/93 EC Presidency 50p

Fact File:

  • Year of Issue: 1992/93
  • Obverse Designer: Raphael Maklouf
  • Reverse Designer: Mary Milner
  • Mintage: 109,000

Designed by Mary Milner, this 50p celebrates the UK’s presidency of the European Council of Ministers.

Excitingly, this 50p is the RAREST ever UK 50p to enter circulation. With a mintage of just 109,000 it’s even rarer than the sought-after Kew Gardens 50p which has a mintage of 210,000.

As this coin is no longer in circulation AND has the lowest ever UK 50p circulating mintage, it’s incredibly sought-after by collectors and if you’re lucky enough to have one in your collection, you should be extremely pleased!

1994 D-Day Landings 50p

Fact File:

  • Year of Issue: 1994
  • Obverse Designer: Raphael Maklouf
  • Reverse Designer: John Mills
  • Mintage: 6,705,520
1994 D-Day 50p

Issued to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the D-Day Landings, this was the final 50p issued in the older specifications.

Interestingly, this has been voted Change Checkers ‘Favourite Ever’ 50p!

With a mintage of 6,705,520 it is the second rarest of the pre-1997 50p coins.


So hopefully our guide to the Pre-1997 50p coins will help you along the way to expanding your collection!

What’s most exciting about all five of these coins is that now they’re out of circulation, they are all considered particularly sought-after by collectors!

Do you have any of these coins in your collection already? Let us know in the comments below!


Own the UK’s FIRST-EVER Commemorative 50p

To secure the 1973 Entry to the EEC 50p – the UK’s FIRST-EVER commemorative 50p – carefully encapsulated in Change Checker packaging click here >>

The BRAND NEW and last-ever Peter Rabbit 50p has now been officially released!

It would be hard to find someone who hadn’t heard of this naughty little rabbit. The central character of Beatrix Potter’s beloved children’s stories, Peter Rabbit has featured on many staple collectables.

Emma Noble’s design of this coin, which features an original illustration of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter herself, perfectly captures Peter Rabbit’s cheeky personality, as he can be seen crawling under Mr. McGregor’s fence!

2020 UK Peter Rabbit 50p

This coin won’t be entering circulation but is available to purchase in Brilliant Uncirculated quality for just £4.50 (+p&p) here.

Where it all started

It was in 2016 that Peter Rabbit escaped from Mr. McGregor’s garden and made his first debut on United Kingdom coinage.

Issued to celebrate 150 years since the birth of renowned Children’s author, Beatrix Potter, this 50p changed coin collecting forever.

2016 UK Peter Rabbit 50p

There were five Beatrix Potter 50ps issued in 2016, including the incredibly popular Jemima Puddle-Duck, which, for a long time, was considered the rarest Beatrix Potter coin in circulation. She was also joined by fellow characters Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and Squirrel Nutkin.

2016 UK Jemima Puddle-Duck 50p

A very special 50p was issued the same year, celebrating Beatrix Potter herself and features her silhouette and her emblem.

2016 UK Beatrix Potter 50p

This series of coins continued into 2017, 2018 and 2019. Fifteen Beatrix Potter coins have now been issued since 2016, each featuring one of Potter’s delightful characters, from Flopsy Bunny to Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle.

Complete Beatrix Potter 50p Collection

Peter Rabbit is the only character to feature more than once in the Beatrix Potter 50p series, with no less than 5 coins issued to celebrated the nation’s favourite little rabbit.

Sadly, Peter Rabbit’s 50p tale has now come to an end. It has been confirmed that the 2020 50p will be the very last UK Peter Rabbit 50p to be issued!

Which Beatrix Potter coins are the rarest?

To celebrate the release of this brand-new Peter Rabbit 50p, we’ve taken a look back at the mintage figures for the different Beatrix Potter 50ps to find out which ones are the rarest in circulation

Beatrix Potter 50p Mintage Figures

Following the release of the 2018 mintage figures, we’ve seen the 2018 Peter Rabbit and Flopsy Bunny 50ps take joint top spot on the Beatrix Potter Mintage Chart. With mintages of just 1,400,000, these coins are the rarest Beatrix Potter coins in circulation and have already proved incredibly popular with collectors!

We also saw the 2018 Mrs. Tittlemouse claim its spot on the podium, pushing Jemima Puddle-Duck – previously thought of as the rarest Beatrix Potter 50p in circulation – further down the chart, with a circulating mintage of 1,700,000.

So collectors that have held onto their 2018 Beatrix Potter 50ps will be delighted to see this! If you don’t have these coins in your collection yet, now’s the time to keep your eyes out to hunt down these sought-after 50ps.

4 years on from his initial release, it’s safe to say that Peter Rabbit inspired a whole new generation of collectors to start checking their change.

I have no doubt that the 2020 Peter Rabbit 50p will prove as popular as the previous years, and I’m sure collectors and Peter Rabbit fans alike will be chasing this rascally rabbit right into their collections.


Secure this brand new 2020 UK Peter Rabbit 50p in Brilliant Uncirculated Quality

2020 UK Peter Rabbit CERTIFIED BU 50p

This is your chance to be ahead of the crowd and secure the very last Peter Rabbit 50p in superior Brilliant Uncirculated condition for just £4.50 (+p&p).

Secure the 2020 UK Peter Rabbit 50p to your collection here