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 >>

Which coins should you be looking out for in your change?

We’ve taken a look at the mintage figures for UK coins to find out which ones are the rarest in circulation...

What you might be surprised by is that on our top 10 list, just 1 out of the 10 coins is a 50p!

The rarest UK coin currently in circulation is the Kew Gardens 50p, but the 9 rarest coins after that are actually £2s.

Whilst 50p coins are very popular amongst collectors at the moment, it’s certainly worth noting that it is in fact the £2 coins which you should be keeping your eyes peeled for, as some of the ones you can find in your change are very rare.

Other rare coins to look out for

Of course, this doesn’t take into account the rare error coins that have been found in circulation, such as:

Whilst exact mintage figures for these error coins may be unknown, we can assume that they could each be rare enough to find themselves near the top of the list.

A-Z of Great Britain 10p coins

A-Z of Great Britain 10p coins

It’s also worth noting that whilst mintage figures for the individual designs haven’t been released, if we assume that each A-Z of Great Britain 10p has been struck in equal quantities, then there would be approximately 281,000 of each design.

This would put each A-Z 10p design in equal second place on the list of the top 10 rarest coins in circulation!

What about the coins no longer in circulation?

Currently the Kew Gardens 50p is the rarest coin in circulation, but did you know that it isn’t actually the UK’s rarest 50p?

This title goes to the 1992/93 UK EC Presidency 50p, with a mintage of just 109,000 – almost half of the Kew Gardens!

In 1997, 50p coins were redesigned in the smaller specification and this coin was demonetised, meaning it is no longer in circulation.

192/93 EC Presidency 50p

The same can be said of the 1989 Claim of Right £2, which was demonetized in 1997 when the bi-metallic £2 coin was introduced.

This coin has a mintage of 381,400 which makes it the rarest UK £2 and would put it in second place on the list if it were still in circulation.

1989 Claim of Right £2 – the UK’s rarest £2

Are you lucky enough to have any of the top 10 rarest coins in your collection? Or perhaps you’ve even been lucky enough to get your hands on the pre-1997 coins listed above. Let us know 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

How sought-after are your coins? Let’s find out with the latest Scarcity Index update!

We’re delighted to share with you the latest A-Z 10p, 50p and £2 coin indexes, with all the information you need to see how sought-after the coins in your collection really are.

This information has been compiled using data from the Change Checker Swap Centre (find out how it works here) and presented in the easy to use indexes below, with arrows to signify how many places up or down a coin has moved since the last Scarcity Index to help you track the performance of your coins.

A-Z 10p Scarcity Index

We’re now starting to see the A-Z 10p Scarcity Index stabilise as more data is gathered from the Change Checker web app to give a more accurate representation of how sought-after each design is.

K for King Arthur and S for Stonehenge remain at the top of the index and these along with F for Fish and Chips, Y for Yeoman Warder and R for Robin are the top 5 you’ll want to be looking out for.

Are you lucky enough to have any of these in your collection?

The biggest movement on the index is an 11 place drop going to P for Postbox, which is now amongst the 5 least scarce A-Z 10p coins.

V for Villages still remains at the bottom, but I for Ice Cream has jumped up 4 places to move out of the bottom 5 coins.

It’s important to note that the A-Z 10p Scarcity Index is currently based on estimated mintage figures, assuming each coin has been struck in equal quantities. This includes the extra 2.1 million coins released in 2019. It will certainly be interesting to see what happens to the index once the official mintage figures are confirmed.

50p Scarcity Index

We all know that the Kew Gardens is the UK’s most sought-after 50p and unless it’s revealed that another 50p has an even lower mintage figure, this won’t change and we’ll continue to see the Kew Gardens at the top of the 50p Scarcity Index.

There’s been some small movements amongst the Olympic 50ps which dominate the top end of the index, with some of the coins moving a few places here and there and the Gymnastics 50p actually increasing in scarcity by 5 places.

The scarcest of the non-Olympic commemorative 50ps is Jemima Puddle-Duck, who’s position remains unchanged for this update.

Despite having a lower mintage figure, the 2017 Sir Isaac Newton sits one position below Jemima Puddle-Duck on the index, making these two and the Kew Gardens the only three coins to break up the Olympic 50ps.

Volleyball has actually moved down the index by 7 places, making it the second least scarce Olympic 50p.

Team GB rose up the index by 9 places at the last index, but has now moved back down 11 places to sit in the bottom 5 least scarce 50p coins in circulation.

£2 Scarcity Index

As with the Kew Gardens 50p, the Commonwealth Games Northern Ireland continues to sit at the top of the index due to its incredibly low mintage figure.

The other Commonwealth Games £2 coins have had a small shuffle around, with Scotland taking the spot for second scarcest £2 in circulation.

The rest of the £2 index has only seen minor changes, which is to be expected as we haven’t seen new £2’s entering circulation since 2017.

However, one change to note is the Great Fire of London, which has moved 4 places up the index.

This is actually due to the updated mintage figures which reveal that whilst the coin was previously listed with a mintage of 5,135,000 there are actually only 1,625,000 of these coins in circulation. We’ve updated our mintage figure charts to reflect this, as well as the changes to the 2016 Peter Rabbit 50p, Shakespeare Histories and Shakespeare Tragedies £2 mintage figures.

How your Scarcity Index works

Generally collectors have had to rely upon mintage figures to identify the scarcest coins.  But they only tell part of the story.  Trying to find a good quality coin from 15 – 20 years ago, even for a higher mintage issue, is much more challenging than a more recent issue, as coins become damaged over time and are ultimately removed from circulation.

Additionally, some designs are more hoarded than others by people who might not normally collect coins – the poignant First World War £2 Coin series being an example. Finally, it can be up to a couple of years before the Royal Mint eventually confirms the actual mintage for an issue.

That’s why we have combined the mintage information with two other key pieces of information.

  • How many of each design are listed as “collected” by Change Checkers, indicating the relative ease of finding a particular coin.
  • The number of times a design has been requested as a swap over the previous 3 months, showing the current level of collector demand.

Importantly, as new coins are released and popularity rises and falls across different designs the Scarcity Index will be updated quarterly allowing Change Checkers to track the relative performance of the UK’s circulation coins.

How much are my coins worth?

The Scarcity Index does not necessarily equate to value but it is certainly an effective indicator.  For example, the Kew Gardens 50p coin commands a premium of up to 200 times face value on eBay.

You can use the 6 point guide to help you determine a more realistic value for your coins.

What about £1 Coins?

The £1 Scarcity Index has already been published for the Round £1 coins and, because they are no longer being issued, this is now set in stone.


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