Next year Birmingham is set to host the international multi-sport event, the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The first-ever edition of the Commonwealth Games took place in Canada in 1930. The games consists of 400 athletes from 11 countries who take part in six sports and 59 events.
Since then, the Games have been conducted every four years (except for 1942 and 1946 due to World War II). Team England has competed at every Games – one of only six nations to do so and Team Scotland has hosted the games THREE times!
The Commonwealth Games have been incredibly influential in the sporting world but they’ve also provided the UK with some incredible coin issues!
In our blog, we take a look back at some of the UK coins celebrating the Commonwealth Games…
1986 UK 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.
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!
The reverse design of this coin features a thistle encircled by a laurel wreath over the cross of St Andrew and it has a mintage of 8,212,184.
This coin is no longer in circulation but Change Checker has strictly limited stock remaining for collectors. To secure yours with FREE p&p today, simply click here >>
2002 Commonwealth Games £2 Series
These four coins were issued in 2002 – again issued to celebrate the Commonwealth Games – this time held in Manchester.
At first glance, you might struggle to spot the difference between them as they all feature the same running athlete trailing a banner behind.
However, each has a different cameo, representing each of the four constituent parts of the United Kingdom.
They are some of the scarcest £2 coins now in circulation, with the Northern Ireland design having a mintage of JUST 485,500!
The other coin designs have the following mintage figures:
- 2002 Commonwealth Games Wales £2: 588,500
- 2002 Commonwealth Games England £2: 650,500
- 2002 Commonwealth Games Scotland £2: 771,750
2014 Commonwealth Games 50p
To celebrate Glasgow holding the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the Royal Mint issued an official XX Commonwealth Games 50p coin the very same year
Designed by Alex Loudon, the reverse features a cyclist and athlete depicting the power of sport.
The home of the Games are reflected in the choice of Scottish Saltire and lettering inspired by Glasgow-born architect, artist and designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
This coin is the least rare of the Commonwealth Games coins, with a total of 6,500,000 entering circulation.
Vote for your favourite Commonwealth Games coin!
With a total of 6 coins commemorating the Commonwealth Games, we want you to have your say and vote for your favourite!
Secure the 1986 UK Commonwealth Games £2 for your collection!
This coin can no longer be found in circulation, so this could be one of your last chances of securing this coin for your collection!
To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the most-famous journey of the Mayflower, The Royal Mint has issued a brand new £2 coin.
2020 UK Mayflower £2
This year marks 400 years since the Mayflower set sail on its famous voyage from Plymouth, England to the ‘New World’ in 1620 – a key event in British history.
Issued initially in January as part of The Royal Mint’s 2020 Commemorative Coin Set, this £2 has JUST been individually released today!
Chris Costello’s reverse design of this coin depicts the Mayflower’s sails majestically billowing in the wind and the anniversary dates as an inscription – ‘1620-2020’.
This coin is available in a number of specifications, including Brilliant Uncirculated quality, for just £8.99 (+p&p)
Journey to the Unknown
In September 1620, a merchant ship called the Mayflower set sail from Plymouth, a port on the southern coast of England in hope of a fresh start.
102 Pilgrims and around 30 crew aboard the ship spent two months at sea, battling against the North Atlantic wind on their ground-breaking journey to America.
After a 66-day voyage, it first landed November 21 on Cape Cod at what is now Massachusetts.
There are an estimated 10 million living Americans and 35 million people around the world who are descended from the original passengers on the Mayflower.
To mark the 400th anniversary of this British vessel departing Plymouth, this £2 coin brings its history to life once more.
But, eagle-eyed collectors may recognise the iconic Mayflower ship from a previous £2 coin…
1994 Mayflower £2 Trial Piece
The UK’s first bi-metallic coin was issued for general circulation in 1997 but in order to prepare for the change over, a trial piece was struck, to test if tills and vending machines would accept it.
Featuring on the reverse design of this new style of coin, was none-other than the famous Mayflower ship!
Issued in a special presentation pack, the 1994 Mayflower Trial £2 was housed next to samples, demonstrating the different stages of its production.
Just over 4,500 of these packs were issued, making the 1994 Mayflower Trial £2 coin incredibly rare, especially if you compare this to the rarest £2 coin in circulation, the 2002 Commonwealth Games Northern Ireland £2, which has a mintage of 485,500!
But the Mayflower £2 coins aren’t the only UK nautical themed coins we’ve seen…
2011 Mary Rose £2
This £2 coin was in 2011 issued to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the launch of the Mary Rose.
The Mary Rose was a ship built and completed at Portsmouth Harbour in 1511 for Henry VIII and named after his favourite sister, Mary Tudor. It was the pride and joy of England’s Royal Navy but in 1545 it met with a tragic end whilst leading an attack against a French invasion fleet in the Solent.
For reasons still not concluded, the Mary Rose listed to one side and sank with the loss of all but 35 men…
It has a mintage of JUST 1,040,000, making it one of the rarest £2 coins in circulation!
2015 First World War (Navy) £2
In 2014. The Royal Mint announced a new five-year First World War commemoration £2 coin series. This £2 coin was the second coin in this series, issued in 2015, and pays tribute to the Royal Navy.
At the time, it was by far the most powerful navy in the world, and was a major asset to Britain in defending coastal waters against the Germans.
Renowned military artist David Rowlands designed the reverse of this coin, and it features a battleship approaching on the open sea.
It has a circulating mintage of JUST 650,000, making it particularly scarce and hard to come by! So, consider yourself very lucky if you have this coin in your collection!
Captain Cook £2 Series
This £2 coin series first stared in 2018 to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the famed British Explorer, Captain Cook, setting sail on his legendary Voyage of Discovery.
Cook’s pioneering expedition for the ‘Great South Land’ expanded our understanding of the world beyond known horizons and 250 years on is being celebrated with this unique £2 coin series.
His famous ship, HM Bark Endeavour features on the design and, just like a secret map, when all three coins in the collection are placed together the design can be seen as a whole!
You can find out more about this incredible series here!
2005 Trafalgar £5 Coin
One of the greatest landmarks in British history, the Battle of Trafalgar was fought on 21st October 1805.
The Battle of Trafalgar was won by the Royal Navy, commanded by Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson, over the combined French and Spanish fleets.
The Royal Mint marked the bicentenary of this battle with two £5 coins. The first of these designs by Clive Duncan, shows Nelson’s flagship ‘Victory‘ leading the fleet into battle.
HMS Victory is in service to this day as the flagship of the Commander-In-Chief, moored in Portsmouth dockyard!
Let us know in the comments below if you have this £5 coin in your collection!
We’re very excited by the release of this brand new £2 coin and we’re sure collectors will be sailing this coin straight into their collections!
Are there any other nautical success stories or significant historical moments that you’d like to see celebrated on UK coinage? Let us know in the comments below!
Secure the BRAND NEW Mayflower £2 in the CUSTOM Change Checker Display Card for just £10.99 (+p&p)
With some truly fantastic releases recently, the UK has fallen head over heels for the 50p, with many collectors focusing on hunting down these seven sided gems for their collection.
But whilst collectors are busy scouring their change to find the latest and greatest 50p releases, the £2 coin, it seems, has taken a bit of a back seat…
So why should you be collecting £2 coins?
In this blog, we’ll take a look at which rare coins should take pride of place in your collection, which potential error coins might be out there and we’ll also share with you our top three £2 coins to look out for.
Rare and Error Coins
With over 37 different UK £2 coin designs in circulation, it’s worth paying attention to the £2 coins in your change, as you never know when you might come across something extra special…
2002 Commonwealth Games NI £2
The 2002 Commonwealth Games England £2 Coin is officially the most scarce £2 coin in the UK, ranking as 100 on our Scarcity Index.
Four coins were released in 2002 to celebrate the Commonwealth Games and at first glance, you might struggle to spot the difference between them. They all feature the same running athlete trailing a banner behind. But each has a different cameo, representing each of the four constituent parts of the United Kingdom.
The fact that this coin is so hard to spot and has such a low mintage of just 485,500 means that the Commonwealth Games NI £2 is the holy grail of £2 coin collections.
2015 Britannia £2
It wasn’t until 2016, when The Mint released the mintage figures for the 2015 coins, that collectors realised just how special the new definitive £2 coin was.
Only 650,000 of the 2015 date Britannia £2 coins had been stuck for circulation, making it one of the most scarce UK £2 coins ever issued! So scarce in fact that there were fewer of this coin than the England and the Scotland coins from the famous 2002 Commonwealth Games series.
This makes the 2015 Britannia £2 joint third scarcest £2 coin in circulation, alongside the Navy £2.
Inverted Effigy Britannia £2
First discovered by a Change Checker, and later confirmed as a genuine error by The Royal Mint, this unusual strike appears on a handful of the 2015 Britannia £2 Coins.
The Royal Mint has accounted for the seemingly impossible misalignment of the Queen’s effigy as “almost certainly the result of one of the dies working loose and rotating during the striking process”.
The result is that the Queen’s head is offset by around 150 degrees compared to the Britannia design on the reverse of the coin.
We analysed 5,000 circulation Britannia £2 coins and our results suggested that the Inverted Effigy may have affected as few as 1 in 200 of the coins struck – in other words around just 3,250 coins.
2015 Navy with Flag
We already know the 2015 Navy is one of the rarest £2 coins with just 650,000 struck for circulation, however Change Checkers have speculated whether there are two different design variations…
The original Navy £2 design (left) shows the coin without any markings on the top right of the mast, but the coin on the right looks like it has a flying flag.
The Royal Mint strike up to 5 billion coins a year and from time to time cracks on the die cause pools of metal to form on the coin whilst striking. It just so happens that this bit of metal has caused the markings on these coins to look like a flying flag on the ship – fuelling speculation that two different variations were struck.
Whilst it doesn’t add any extra value to the coin, it’s certainly one to look out for and makes for interesting collecting.
2005 ‘Pemember, Pemember’ Gunpowder Plot £2
The 2005 Gunpowder Plot £2 commemorates the 400th anniversary of Guy Fawkes’ failed assassination attempt on King James I, but the coin is more familiar to collectors for having a spelling mistake in the edge inscription. The timeless quote “Remember, remember the fifth of November” has been found with various combinations of Pemember, Pemembep, Novemebep and so on. The common factor here is the ‘R’ which appears as a ‘P’.
Sadly for collectors this is apparently not a striking error. The explanation from the Royal Mint is that the down-stroke of the R coincides with the milling around the edge, and as the coin has worn over time, the letter has become less defined. This categorical statement from the Mint means that any mark-up in price for a supposed ‘error’ is completely unjustified, and although it makes the coin more interesting, it is not the mistake which it is often perceived to be.
1997 Maklouf ‘Queen with a Necklace’ £2
The ‘Queen with a Necklace’ £2 has an enduring legacy in the collecting world. The very first bi-metallic £2 coins were issued in 1997, just prior to the Queen’s portrait change in 1998. This meant that the older portrait by Raphael Maklouf was only used for one year: 1997. His version featured Queen Elizabeth II wearing a necklace, which is how the nickname was derived.
When the portrait change was announced, the new £2 coins were snapped up by collectors believing them to be a future rarity. As it turned out, a mintage of nearly 14 million means the ‘Queen with a Necklace’ £2 is not one of the rarest coins in circulation. Nevertheless, with only one year of issue, it still holds an undeniable interest for collectors.
2007 Abolition of Slavery £2
There is a misconception that there were two types of the Abolition of Slavery £2 coin struck for circulation. It is true that two versions of the coins exist – one has a textured finish whereas the other has a smooth finish and features the artist, David Gentleman’s initials (circled).
The key difference is that only the textured version was struck for circulation, and if you find one of the smoother types in your change, you have actually found a coin which has been taken out of a presentation pack. This makes it considerably rarer than the circulating version, so it is worth keeping rather than spending!
The Top Three £2 Coins to Collect
When it comes to collecting, £2 coins are some of our favourites to look out for, but out of the rare and wonderful coins mentioned above, here are our top three £2 coins to collect.
1) It’s no surprise that the UK’s scarcest £2 coin in circulation should come in first place, but you’ll not only have to be very lucky to come across one, you’ll also have to be eagle eyed to spot the correct flag for the Commonwealth Games Northern Ireland £2 coin.
2) Coming in close second is the third scarcest £2 coin, but can you challenge yourself to see if you can find one with the ‘flag’ variation as mentioned above?
3) And as our third placed coin, the 2015 Britannia actually sits in joint third place as the UK’s scarcest £2 in circulation and our challenge to you is to try and find the inverted effigy of this coin too!
Check out how we got on with our own £2 coin hunt and all the fantastic designs we were able to find in a £500 bank bag:
The £2 coins that haven’t entered circulation…
You may have noticed a lack of 2017 coins in your change, as to date The Royal Mint haven’t confirmed if they will enter circulation.
This all depends on demand for specific denominations at the time as UK Banks and Post Offices may not request every denomination every year if there is already sufficient coin in circulation.
Based on The Royal Mint’s figures, we do know that no 2017 Britannia coins were struck for circulation. But there have been 13 other coins designs issued since 2017 that we are yet to find in our change, including:
- Jane Austen
- WW1 Aviation
- RAF Badge
- RAF Spitfire
- RAF Vulcan
- RAF Sea King
- RAF Lightning
- Captain Cook
- Samuel Pepys
- D-Day Landings
All of these coins are available to purchase in Brilliant Uncirculated quality here, but we will of course be the first to update you as soon as we have more information on their potential release.
A Treasure Hunt
It can be quite a challenge tracking down every single £2 coin for a complete collection. Remember, if you’re struggling to find those last few coins in your change, you can source them online, in auctions, on Facebook coin groups and of course by swapping with like-minded collectors on our web app.
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
Sign up today at: www.changechecker.org/app