What are Definitive Coins?

Whilst new commemorative coins are issued each year to celebrate some of the UK’s most important anniversaries, did you know that the coins most readily found in our day-to-day change feature the same designs each year? 

These are known as the ‘definitive’ coins, and it’s actually been a whole 15 years since we last saw a change to their reverse designs! 

But, as we now enter a new era of King Charles III, it’s #AllChange for our humble definitive coins, with eight brand new designs set to be revealed this year… 

From the 1p to the £2, these coins have formed the UK’s circulating currency for over 50 years. 

In this blog, we’ll take a look at the history of UK definitive coins and what the future might bring as we look forward to the new releases coming soon! 

The UK’s Eight Definitive Coins

There are eight different coin denominations to be found in our everyday change (1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1, £2). 

Their story began in 1971, when Britain’s coinage went decimal – a plan which had been in the making for over 10 years! 

Originally, only the 1p-50p coins were released and each featured the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Arnold Machin on the obverse. Their reverse designs had been created by Christopher Ironside, for which he won an OBE. 

Christopher Ironside Decimal Designs 
Credit: The Royal Mint
Christopher Ironside Decimal Designs
Credit: The Royal Mint

Whilst the Queen’s portrait has changed on these coins throughout the years (Raphael Maklouf in 1985, Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS in 1998 with the introduction of the definitive £2 coin and Jody Clark in 2015), it wasn’t until 2008 that the reverse designs all changed and the first definitive £1 was introduced.  

The Royal Shield on Coins

In 2008, the new definitive coins were released. 

Competition winner, Matthew Dent had created a clever design utilising each of the denominations from 1p-50p and bringing them together like a jigsaw to form the Royal Shield – shown in its entirety on the definitive £1 coin. 

Matthew Dent's Royal Shield Definitive Designs
Matthew Dent’s Royal Shield Definitive Designs
Definitive Royal Shield £1
Definitive Royal Shield £1

At this time, the definitive £2 remained unchanged with the Technology design, first introduced in 1998. 

1998 Technology £2
1998 Technology £2

Britannia £2

The very last change we’ve seen to our definitive coins came in 2015, when the £2 reverse design was updated to the iconic Britannia design by Anthony Dufort. 

2015 Britannia £2
2015 Britannia £2

Not only this, but the obverse design for all denominations was also updated in 2015 as the last effigy of Queen Elizabeth II by Jody Clark graced our UK coinage. 

Jody Clark Queen Elizabeth II portrait
Jody Clark Queen Elizabeth II portrait

What’s next for UK Definitive Coins?

Usually, definitive coins are issued each year as part of the Annual Coin Set and then released into circulation based on demand. 

However, following the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the introduction of King Charles III’s new coinage portrait, this year has been an exception… 

Whilst a 2023 Annual Coin Set was released, this only featured 5 commemorative designs and no definitive coins. 

2023 Annual Set reverse designs
2023 Annual Set reverse designs
2023 Annual Set King Charles III obverses
2023 Annual Set King Charles III obverses

Throughout the year, many collectors have asked us when the King Charles III definitive coins will be released and what the designs will be. 

Excitingly, it seems that the wait is almost over, as The Royal Mint announced on the 5th October 2023 that we can expect to see new definitive coin designs featuring King Charles III on the obverse very soon… 

This will be the first time that both the ‘heads’ and ‘tails’ sides of coins have changed at the same time, and of course, the first time the King will feature on a UK 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p and £1 coin! 

As perhaps the biggest change we’ve seen to UK coinage in decades, we’re expecting a huge collecting rush for the New UK Coinage for King Charles III and can’t wait to see the new coins when they’re released. 

Keep an eye on our social media and website as we’ll be updating you as soon as we have more information on when these exciting new coins. 

What do you think the designs will look like? Let us know in the comments below!

Last Coins of the Queen feature Special Privy Mark

2022 is likely a year no collector will forget.

We’ve celebrated a Platinum Jubilee, mourned the loss of our Queen and welcomed a new monarch to the throne.

And, as ever, these extraordinary moments are retold through our UK coins.

Today, to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s incredible life and reign, an official UK Memorial coin set has been released. The coins feature the eight definitive coins from 2022, alongside the new Memorial 50p and £5 with the King’s portrait.

2022 UK Queen Elizabeth II MEmorial Definitive Coin Set - with special privy mark.
Featuring the 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, and 50p royal shield designs
the commemorative.
Privy Mark on Last Queen Coins
2022 UK Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Definitive Coin Set – with special privy mark.

Last UK Coins of Queen Elizabeth II

Importantly, the definitive coins in this set will be the last in the UK to feature Her Majesty’s portrait.

What’s more, each definitive obverse design also features a special privy mark to show the Queen’s year of birth and year of passing – a never-before-seen feature for these coins, which is bound to add to their collectability.

Privy Mark on Last Queen Coins
Privy Mark on Last Queen Coins

Since Her Majesty’s passing, we’ve seen incredible demand for QE II coins. Both historic and new issues. Recent releases are continuously selling out at The Royal Mint and older issues are becoming increasingly scarce as the nation rushes to secure keepsakes and lasting tributes for the Queen.

And this set features the very last coins of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, meaning rapid sell outs of the limited precious metal versions are absolutely on the cards…

The good news for collectors is that the Brilliant Uncirculated version of the set is unlimited.

However, The Royal Mint have announced that stock will only be available until the 31st December 2022, so the sales window is incredibly limited for those of you wanting to secure this set.

A recent photograph of Her Late Majesty the Queen. Pictured wearing a pink suit jacket and matching hat. She can be seen smiling.
A new commemorative UK coin set has been issued, including the last coins of Queen Elizabeth II, featuring a special privy mark.
Her Late Majesty the Queen.
Source: Joel Rouse/ Ministry of Defence Derivative: nagualdesign, OGL 3, via Wikimedia Commons

Appearing on our coins throughout her outstanding reign as our longest serving monarch, I’m sure you’ll agree that this set really is a touching tribute to Her Majesty. It’s a piece of history to treasure for generations to come.

Let us know in the comments below if you like the privy mark on the last Queen Elizabeth II coins.

Own the Last Coins of Her Majesty, with special privy mark, in Brilliant Uncirculated quality

You can own the 2022 Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Coin Set in Brilliant Uncirculated quality here >>

But, due to the limited sales window, you’ll need to act fast to make sure you don’t miss out.

The Royal Mint has just re-issued the FIRST EVER definitive £2 – with a twist!

The iconic UK definitive bi-metallic £2 has just been re-issued by The Royal Mint, celebrating 25 years since it first entered circulation!

2022 UK Definitive Bi-Metallic £2 Re-Issued.
Design of the Technology £2, with a '25' lenticular feature.
This coin also features a dual date - 1997 on the reverse, and 2022 on the obverse.
2022 UK Definitive Bi-Metallic £2 Re-Issued. Get yours here >>

Order your 2022 UK 25th Anniversary CERTIFIED BU £2 here >>

This brand new coin follows the design of the first definitive £2, the Technology £2. But eagle-eyed collectors will spot some very special features on this new issue…

25 years of our bi-metallic £2 celebrated with a new lenticular feature

In the centre of the original Technology £2, you’ll see the central lenticular area transform from four separate scrolls into eight intertwined scrolls, representing the Iron Age.

But, instead of eight scrolls, this re-issued bi-metallic £2 reveals the number ‘25’ when tilted – a clever way of celebrating the anniversary!

Last QEII Commemorative Bi-Metallic £2

The 25th anniversary of the £2 coin is confirmed to be the last UK commemorative bi-metallic £2 coin which features an effigy of Her Late Majesty.

This is sure to make this coin even more sought-after, as collectors rush to find the last UK coins with Queen Elizabeth II’s portrait on them.

Special dual-date

As well as the unique lenticular feature, this brand new £2 also features a special dual-date.

Featuring the original 1997 date on the reverse, and the 2022 date on the obverse, this coin becomes one of just a handful of UK coins to have a dual-date on its design.

Special Privy Mark

The obverse not only features Jody Clark’s QEII portrait, but also includes a special privy mark in the form of the central Iron Age circle.

The 25th Anniversary of the £2 obverse design, featuring special privy mark.
The 25th Anniversary of the £2 obverse design, featuring special privy mark.

Order your 2022 UK Bi-Metallic Re-issued 25th Anniversary CERTIFIED BU £2 here >>

Sell out history

Plus, this year has already seen £2 coin SELL OUTS. On the day the 150th Anniversary of the FA Cup £2 launched, limited edition specifications SOLD OUT within mere hours!

The 2022 UK FA Cup £2 coin. This coin sold out in JUST hours of issue!
The 2022 UK FA Cup £2 coin. This coin sold out in JUST hours of issue! Don’t miss out on the brand new Anniversary £2 coin…

Make sure you get your hands on the 2022 UK 25th Anniversary CERTIFIED BU £2 by ordering yours here >>

The favourite UK £2 coin – voted by you!

Earlier this year, we asked Change Checkers which bi-metallic £2 design was their favourite. Can you guess which one came out on top? Find out here >>

The Scarcest Bi-metallic £2 coins

Plenty of popular bi-metallic £2 coin designs have gone into circulation since 1997, but the most scarce £2 coin is the 2002 Commonwealth Games NI £2.

2002 Commonwealth Games £2 - the scarcest £2 coin in circulation.
2002 Commonwealth Games £2 – the scarcest £2 coin in circulation.

With a mintage figure of just 485,500, this coin is particularly hard to spot in your change. Find out more about this coin here >>

£2 ‘errors’

You may also spot £2 ‘errors’ in your change too, although these are very rare. They can occur when striking the bi-metallic coins, which has a very specific process. If you’d like to learn more about error and mis-strike coins, click here >>

The re-issued bi-metallic £2 coin is sure to be a hit with collectors. What is your favourite £2 from the last 25 years?

Order your 2022 UK Bi-Metallic Re-Issued 25th Anniversary CERTIFIED BU £2 here >>