Every year The Royal Mint mark the year’s memorable events and anniversaries that capture the nation by striking these stories onto circulating coins, and 2019 is no different.
Today, The Royal Mint have unveiled the new themes and designs for all the 2019 commemorative coins, and Change Checkers can look forward to some fascinating British anniversaries being commemorated.
50p: The 160th anniversary of the birth of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
As the father of modern crime writing, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s legacy lives on 160 years since his birth, thanks to his iconic creation – Britain’s greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes™.
The classic tales of Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson are treasured reads which have led Doyle to become one of the most famous writers in the world.
Reverse designer: Stephen Raw
£2: The 260th anniversary of the formation of Wedgwood
The industrial revolution of the 18th century shaped Britain’s future and brought about great social changes and technological advancements. Josiah Wedgwood created his pottery empire using modern mass production methods, which we still use today.
Reverse designer: Wedgwood Design Team
£2: The 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings
On the 6th of June 1944, the D-Day landings turned the tide of the Second World War. Allied troops landed at five different beaches codenamed Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword for the largest amphibious assault ever launched. This gave them a position from which they could advance into Germany and paved the way for victory on the Western Front and the liberation of Europe.
Reverse designer: Stephen Taylor
£2: The 350th anniversary of Samuel Pepy’s last diary entry
Samuel Pepy’s diary entries provide detailed and personal observations from some of Britain’s most significant moments in history, such as the Restoration, the Plague and the Great Fire of London. His diary has been essential for understanding these events and their impact on people at the time and give invaluable first-hand insights.
Reverse designer: Gary Breeze
£5: The 200th anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria
At her birth in 1819, no one knew that Queen Victoria’s reign would span the rest of the century and make her one Britain’s most famous rulers. She came to the throne aged just 18 years old, at a time when Britain’s Empire was growing and becoming the world’s pre-eminent superpower in an era of unrivalled peace and prosperity.
Reverse designer: John Bergdahl
The announcement of the year’s coins is always an exciting moment for Change Checkers, particularly when the anniversaries are as significant as these.
And now we can now start looking forward to finding these new designs in our change throughout the year!
Own the 2019 Commemorative Coin Set
If you can’t wait to find these coins in your change, be one of the first to own the complete set!
£2 coins were released 1986, when this brand new denomination was introduced for the very first time.
The XIII Commonwealth Games was the first commemorative £2 coin and was issued for a non-royal event which gripped the nation. I can only imagine what an exciting time it must have been for people to discover these brand new coins which marked such a significant change in the UK’s commemorative coin issuing strategy.
These coins are considered rare due to the fact that although are legal tender, they were never common in everyday circulation and were struck mainly for collectors.
Six more single coloured £2 coins were struck over the next 10 years before the introduction of the fully circulating bi-metallic £2 denomination in 1998, which has seen 47 different designs in total so far.
So, let’s take a step back in time to 1986 and delve into the history of Britain’s commemorative £2 coins…
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.
Edge Inscription: XIII COMMONWEALTH GAMES SCOTLAND 1986
In 1689, Prince William and Mary accepted the Declaration of Rights prior to being offered the throne, which effectively shifted the balance of power from the Crown to Parliament and changed the course of British political history. These £2 coins were issued in 1989 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of this landmark Act. There were 2 versions of each coin issued – English and Scottish. The English reverse designs features the Crown of St Edward and the inscription ‘Tercentenary of the Claim of Right’ and ‘Tercentenary of the Bill of Rights’ respectively.
Bank of England £2
When William and Mary came to the throne in 1689, 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.
Edge Inscriptions: SIC VOS NON VOBIS (thus you labour but not for yourselves)
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”.
Edge Inscriptions: 1945 IN PEACE GOODWILL 1995
United Nations £2
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.
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, 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.
Edge Inscriptions: TENTH EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP
Following a review of the United Kingdom’s coinage, the decision was made that a general-circulation £2 coin was needed and so the new bi-metallic coin was introduced on the 15th June 1998.
As the first bi-metallic coin ever used in the UK, the £2 yet again revolutionised Britain’s coinage and changed the face of these incredibly popular coins, allowing them to be both commemorative and circulated, which has had a great impact for collectors who are able to find these coins in their change.
Do you have any of the above £2 coins?
Scotland has long enjoyed good representation on UK currency, especially on the commemorative coins of the last 30 years.
But with the vote for Scottish independence looming, could this be the end for Scottish themes on coins used across the whole of Britain?
If so, the 50p just issued to mark the Glasgow Commonwealth Games would become the last ever Scottish 50p issued whilst the Union is still intact.
Firsts and lasts
Collectors know that ‘firsts’ and ‘lasts’ are often the most sought after issues. Sometimes this only becomes apparent in the years following the event – when the true importance of the coin is revealed.
With this in mind, the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games 50p could be one of the most unintentionally important issues of the early 21st century.
You have to go back to 1707 to find the last pre-Union coins, struck during the reign of Queen Anne. These are now some of the most collectable issues of her reign, and usually the preserve of serious collections only.
So if you happen to be the owner of one of these 50ps, only time will tell how important it could become – regardless it’s a coin with a story of genuine national importance, and one that should definitely be considered for your collection.
If you are interested…
Our friends at The Westminster Collection have a small number of these 50ps remaining from their Commonwealth Games commemorative range.
They are encapsulated and postmarked on the day of the closing ceremony, making them particularly limited. Click here for more information.