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 >>

I still can’t quite believe 2020 is here and we’re into a new decade! But what better excuse could there be to take a look back at some of our favourite coin releases from the past 10 years?

Along with new coins, the numismatic world as a whole seems to have expanded as a new generation of collectors have discovered the joy of this fantastic hobby.

There’s no denying we’ve seen some incredible coins released since 2010, but the Change Checker team have picked out our personal favourite TOP FIVE.

So without any further ado, here are the coins we believe to be the greatest of the past 10 yearsDrum roll please...


1. The London Olympic and Paralympic 50ps

Change Checker Olympic 50p Coin Pack Collection Coins - My TOP FIVE coins of the decade

Issued to mark the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games hosted by London, this coin series played a huge part in transforming the 50p into the UK’s most collectable coin.

29 different 50p coin designs were released to commemorate the different sports and across the nation millions rose to the challenge of collecting them all.

The Royal Mint now estimates that as many as 75% of the Olympic 50p coins have been removed from circulation by collectors, which is a testament to their popularity.

It was certainly the Olympic 50p series that reawakened the nation’s love of coin collecting in the last decade, so we just had to include them at the top of our list!

2. The Beatrix Potter 50ps

AT Beatrix Potter 50p Coins 650x450 1 - My TOP FIVE coins of the decade

Next up is a series which inspired a whole new generation of collectors, and for that reason it would be a crime not to include the Beatrix Potter 50p series on our list.

Just like me, I’m sure you’ll have fond childhood memories of reading the enchanting tales of Peter Rabbit and his friends as a child and this beautiful 50p series really does do justice to those memorable tales.

4 years, and 14 coins later, the Beatrix Potter 50p coins remain one of the public’s favourite ever collection of coins.

Since The Royal Mint released the first Beatrix Potter 50ps in 2016, these charming coins have created a collecting frenzy, becoming increasingly sought-after to this day.

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that this is one of the stand-out coin series of all time, let alone the decade!

3. Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th Birthday £5

As a nation, we’ve celebrated Her Majesty the Queen’s landmark birthdays, jubilees and wedding anniversaries during her long and eventful reign.

Traditionally, the Queen’s birthday milestones are celebrated with £5 coins, as seen issued in both 1996 and 2006 to mark her 70th and 80th birthdays.

And so, this decade, when Queen Elizabeth II became the first British monarch to celebrate their 90th Birthday, the release of this £5 coin in 2016 was particularly special and hugely significant for collectors around the world.

This was the only official UK £5 coin to mark this special occasion, designed by acclaimed artist Christopher Hobbs, who captured the Queen’s love of flowers, showing nine roses – one for each decade of the Queen’s life.

4. 2015 Britannia £2

Britannia has a long standing history with British coinage, having featured on a British coin in one way or another for more than 300 years.

In 2008 she was surprisingly dropped from the 50p, despite a Daily Mail campaign to save her. However in February 2015 it was announced that Antony Dufort’s modern interpretation of Britannia would be making a triumphant return to British circulating coins, replacing the definitive £2 “Technology” design which had featured on the coin since 1997.

This was a very popular move from The Royal Mint, but it wasn’t until the mintage figures were announced that the real surprise was unveiled…

Only 650,000 of the 2015 dated Britannia £2 coins had been stuck for circulation, making it one of the rarest UK £2 coins ever!

The rarity and numismatic significance of this coin as the UK’s new definitive £2 means it had to earn a spot on our Top Five list.

5. The A-Z of Great Britain 10ps

In 2018, The Royal Mint sparked huge excitement across the nation with the surprise release of 26 brand new 10p coin designs.

Each coin design was created to represent an image of what makes Britain British from A – Angel of the North, all the way to Z – Zebra Crossing, and collectors quickly fell in love with these unique coins.

Figures for 2018 confirm that 220,000 of each design entered circulation, meaning each design is almost as rare as the Kew Gardens 50p – the UK’s rarest coin in circulation!

A further 2.1 million A-Z 10ps were released in 2019 overall, meaning there really aren’t many to go around and many collectors are struggling to come across them in their change as they are being snapped up so quickly.

The A-Z 10ps really have been one of the biggest numismatic talking points of the decade and so they just had to be included on our list. Have you been lucky enough to find any?

Of course there have been so many other incredible releases in the past 10 years and narrowing it down to just five was a tough job, but we certainly feel that these coins have got to be highlights of the last decade.

Let us know which coins would make it into your Top Five in the comments below!


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

Change Checker Web App Banner 2 Amends 1024x233 1 1024x233 - Your January 2019 Scarcity Index update!

Sign up today at: www.changechecker.org/app

 

We’re on the hunt for the best Coin Design of 2018 as part of the 2018 Change Checker Awards and we need your help! With over 50 new coins released this year, we’ve decided to shortlist the coins by denomination and then determine one overall winner from the top 10p, 50p, £2 and £5 coins as voted by Change Checkers!

A-Z 10p Coins

We start the voting with the 26 A-Z of Great Britain 10p coins which had a surprise release in March 2018 and have proved incredibly popular amongst collectors, yet notoriously tricky to find in circulation… 2.6 million were originally released back in March and now a further 2.6 million have been released, so they should start turning up in our change soon!

But which A-Z 10p coin is your favourite?

Cast your vote now using the poll at the bottom of the page and find out more about the different A-Z coins below!

 

 

With 26 beautiful designs to choose from, it’s not easy picking a favourite, but we’re looking forward to finding out which A-Z 10p coin is top amongst Change Checkers.

The winning 10p will then be entered into our Coin Design of the Year vote as part of the 2018 Change Checker Awards, alongside the top 50p, £2 and £5 coins from 2018 to determine which coin should be crowned the overall winner!

The voting has now closed and the results can be found below:

 

 

It’s now time for you to vote for your overall winner, shortlisted from Change Checker’s favourite A-Z 10p, 50p, £2 and £5 coin of the year.

Click here to find out which coins made the top 4 and to cast your vote for the overall Coin Design of the Year 2018.


 

View our full range of A-Z 10p coins and collecting packs here >>