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 >>

The BRAND NEW and last-ever Peter Rabbit 50p has now been officially released!

It would be hard to find someone who hadn’t heard of this naughty little rabbit. The central character of Beatrix Potter’s beloved children’s stories, Peter Rabbit has featured on many staple collectables.

Emma Noble’s design of this coin, which features an original illustration of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter herself, perfectly captures Peter Rabbit’s cheeky personality, as he can be seen crawling under Mr. McGregor’s fence!

2020 UK Peter Rabbit 50p

This coin won’t be entering circulation but is available to purchase in Brilliant Uncirculated quality for just £4.50 (+p&p) here.

Where it all started

It was in 2016 that Peter Rabbit escaped from Mr. McGregor’s garden and made his first debut on United Kingdom coinage.

Issued to celebrate 150 years since the birth of renowned Children’s author, Beatrix Potter, this 50p changed coin collecting forever.

2016 UK Peter Rabbit 50p

There were five Beatrix Potter 50ps issued in 2016, including the incredibly popular Jemima Puddle-Duck, which, for a long time, was considered the rarest Beatrix Potter coin in circulation. She was also joined by fellow characters Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and Squirrel Nutkin.

2016 UK Jemima Puddle-Duck 50p

A very special 50p was issued the same year, celebrating Beatrix Potter herself and features her silhouette and her emblem.

2016 UK Beatrix Potter 50p

This series of coins continued into 2017, 2018 and 2019. Fifteen Beatrix Potter coins have now been issued since 2016, each featuring one of Potter’s delightful characters, from Flopsy Bunny to Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle.

Complete Beatrix Potter 50p Collection

Peter Rabbit is the only character to feature more than once in the Beatrix Potter 50p series, with no less than 5 coins issued to celebrated the nation’s favourite little rabbit.

Sadly, Peter Rabbit’s 50p tale has now come to an end. It has been confirmed that the 2020 50p will be the very last UK Peter Rabbit 50p to be issued!

Which Beatrix Potter coins are the rarest?

To celebrate the release of this brand-new Peter Rabbit 50p, we’ve taken a look back at the mintage figures for the different Beatrix Potter 50ps to find out which ones are the rarest in circulation

Beatrix Potter 50p Mintage Figures

Following the release of the 2018 mintage figures, we’ve seen the 2018 Peter Rabbit and Flopsy Bunny 50ps take joint top spot on the Beatrix Potter Mintage Chart. With mintages of just 1,400,000, these coins are the rarest Beatrix Potter coins in circulation and have already proved incredibly popular with collectors!

We also saw the 2018 Mrs. Tittlemouse claim its spot on the podium, pushing Jemima Puddle-Duck – previously thought of as the rarest Beatrix Potter 50p in circulation – further down the chart, with a circulating mintage of 1,700,000.

So collectors that have held onto their 2018 Beatrix Potter 50ps will be delighted to see this! If you don’t have these coins in your collection yet, now’s the time to keep your eyes out to hunt down these sought-after 50ps.

4 years on from his initial release, it’s safe to say that Peter Rabbit inspired a whole new generation of collectors to start checking their change.

I have no doubt that the 2020 Peter Rabbit 50p will prove as popular as the previous years, and I’m sure collectors and Peter Rabbit fans alike will be chasing this rascally rabbit right into their collections.


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2020 UK Peter Rabbit CERTIFIED BU 50p

This is your chance to be ahead of the crowd and secure the very last Peter Rabbit 50p in superior Brilliant Uncirculated condition for just £4.50 (+p&p).

Secure the 2020 UK Peter Rabbit 50p to your collection here

We’re excited to reveal to you the very first Scarcity Index of 2020!

The updated 50p, A-Z 10p and £2 indexes below allow you to discover how sought-after the coins in your collection really are…

This information has been compiled using data from the Change Checker Swap Centre 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.

50p Scarcity Index

The previous Scarcity Index update saw some exciting changes to the 50p index, as we were able to include the 2018 50p coins following the release of their mintage figures.

This was great news for Change Checkers who have the 2018 Beatrix Potter 50ps in their collection, as both the Flopsy Bunny and Peter Rabbit 50ps have proved incredibly sought-after.

Despite both coins having the same mintage figure of 1,400,000, the Flopsy Bunny 50p is the most sought-after of the Beatrix Potter coins and is in fact the scarcest non-Olympic 50p coin in circulation, aside from of course the Kew Gardens 50p – the UK’s most sought-after circulation 50p.

Whilst both the Flopsy Bunny and 2018 Peter Rabbit 50ps have moved up the index one place since the last update, the other 2018 50ps haven’t fared quite so well, with the Mrs Tittlemouse and Paddington at the Station both moving down the index and the other 2018 50ps remaining unchanged.

The biggest mover on this latest Scarcity Index update goes to the Olympic Fencing 50p, which has moved up the index an incredible twelve places, following its five place drop on the previous update.

As we look forward to the Olympic Games which will be held in Tokyo later this year, perhaps we’ll see more of the Olympic 50ps increase in popularity by the next Scarcity Index update.

A-Z 10p Scarcity Index

We’re used to seeing quite a bit of movement on the A-Z 10p index as these particularly tricky-to-find coins are snapped up by collectors.

Interestingly, in this latest update only the top and bottom coins have remained unchanged, with B for Bond staying on top spot as the current scarcest A-Z 10p coin in circulation.

For many, this coin seems to be a firm favourite from the A-Z of Great Britain collection which was released in 2018, so it comes as no surprise that it has found its way to the top of the list.

P for Postbox is unfortunately bottom of the pile once again, although it’s worth remembering that all of these coins are considered sought-after and collectors fortunate enough to come across just one will be considering themselves lucky.

The biggest movers on the latest 10p index update are W for World Wide Web and S for Stonehenge, which have both moved up the index by 14 places.

S for Stonehenge actually dropped by 14 places in the previous index, so this could be the coin levelling back out again.

It will be interesting to see how the index changes as more collectors come across these coins and as we await the release of the 2019 mintage figures. We currently know that 220,000 of each design entered circulation in 2018 and a further 2.1 million coins overall were released in 2019, but exact figures for individual 2019 designs are currently unknown.

£2 Scarcity Index

Following the 2018 mintage figure reveal, we know that no £2 coins have entered circulation since 2016, so the £2 index continues to remain fairly stable with no new coins to add to the mix.

The top five coins are unchanged since the last index and it comes as no surprise that the Commonwealth Games Northern Ireland £2 remains on the top spot, as this £2 has a mintage figure of just 485,500 and is considered incredibly sought-after amongst collectors.

All three Olympic themed £2 coins (Olympic Handover, Olympic Centenary and London 2012 Handover) also remain very close to the top of the index and I wonder if the Tokyo Olympics this year will affect the scarcity of these already very popular coins.

The biggest mover on the £2 index is the Florence Nightingale coin, which has moved up by six places, whilst the 60th Anniversary of World War Two coin has moved down by five places to the third from bottom space.

As I’m sure you’ll agree, it would be fantastic to see some new £2 coins entering circulation and how they might affect the £2 Scarcity Index. Fingers crossed they’ll be enough demand for these coins to enter circulation soon!

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