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.
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!
Today you can own all 4 of the United Kingdom’s commemorative coins from 2017 with the Change Checker Commemorative Coin Pack, including the rare Sir Isaac Newton 50p and the Jane Austen and First World War Aviation £2 coins that can’t be found in circulation.
In 2008, Matthew Dent redesigned the UK’s definitive coins following a public competition which saw over 4,000 designs submitted.
His Royal Shield of Arms design was chosen by The Royal Mint Advisory Committee to feature on the reverse of all UK coins, and when each coin from the penny to the 50p is placed together, the completed design reveals the full shield. The lower section of the shield can be seen on the reverse design of the UK 50p.
Definitive 50ps are usually issued into circulation every year and generally go unnoticed as they are so readily available and mintage figures are often in the high millions.
Since 2008 this coin has been issued into circulation six times, but which Royal Shield 50p is the rarest?
The Royal Mint only issues coins based on demand, and therefore the coin wasn’t issued for circulation in 2009, 2010, 2011 or 2016. In the years that the coin was issued, the mintage figures vary from just 1,800,000 all the way up to 49,001,000.
By far the rarest 50p shield is the 2017 coin, which is actually the second rarest 50p coin in circulation!
The Kew Gardens is known as the UK’s rarest circulation 50p, with a mintage of just 210,000 and the next rarest commemorative 50p is the 2017 Sir Isaac Newton, with a mintage of 1,801,500. However, when you include definitive coins into the mix, the 2017 Royal Shield actually knocks the Sir Isaac Newton off second spot, with 1,500 less coins issued.
The most common Royal Shield 50p is the 2014 coin, with a mintage of 49,001,000, although this is not the most common 50p in circulation…
That title goes to the old definitive, featuring Christopher Ironside’s Britannia design. This design was first issued in 1969 as the first seven sided coin, issued to replace the 10 shilling note.
In 1997 the coin was made smaller and lighter and the old coins ceased to be legal tender in the UK. Therefore, a whopping 456,364,100 Britannia 50p coins were issued that year to replace the old design, making the 1997 Britannia 50p Britain’s most common 50p.
Are the definitive 50p coins worth collecting?
As collectors, we often focus on the rarer commemorative designs when it comes to building our collections, but I think the chart above just goes to show why we shouldn’t overlook the rarity of the definitive coins.
You’re very likely to come across the Royal Shield 50p in your change (in fact, there might be one in your pocket right now!) so make sure you keep your eyes peeled to see if you can find the rare 2017 coin for your collection!
Own the UK’s rarest Royal Shield 50p within the 2017 Royal Mint Pack!
This set is no longer available from The Royal Mint, but today you can own all 13 of the United Kingdom’s 2017 annual coins in the Royal Mint Brilliant Uncirculated pack, including the UK’s rarest Royal Shield 50p.