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 >>

It’s time for your latest Scarcity Index update, where we’ll reveal the UK’s most sought-after circulation coins of the last three months! And it’s all change for the A-Z 10ps, as NHS establishes itself in top spot…

You can use the updated A-Z 10p, 50p and £2 indexes below 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.

A-Z 10p Scarcity Index

Well we really have seen quite a mix up for the latest A-Z 10p Scarcity Index update, with a new leader taking top spot!

B for Bond has not only been knocked off the top spot, but has actually dropped 11 places down towards the middle of the pack.

In its place we have a very worthy winner and it comes as no surprise that the most sought-after A-Z 10p is currently N for NHS. Now, more than ever, the NHS is playing a vital role to keep us safe and well during the coronavirus pandemic and so it seems only fitting that this 10p has grown in popularity. Acting as a reminder of the strength, hope and support of not only our National Health Service, but the British people as a whole during this unpreceded time in history.

Other key movers to keep an eye on are the F for Fish and Chips and M for Mackintosh 10ps, moving up the index 11 and 9 places respectively.

Regardless of where they feature on the above index, if you have any of the A-Z 10ps in your collection you should consider yourself lucky, as they are particularly hard to come by in circulation and each design has a relatively low mintage (just 220,000 of each design released in 2018 and 2.1 million overall in 2019).

50p Scarcity Index

The 50p Scarcity Index has remained fairly stable at the top and bottom, with Kew Gardens holding strong in the top spot, a whole 12 points ahead of the second scarcest 50p in circulation, the Olympic Football.

There’s been a bit of a shuffle around with the Olympic 50ps, with Wheelchair Rugby moving up the index by 11 places! Although it’s definitely worth noting that all of the Olympic 50ps are particularly sought-after due to their low mintage figures and an estimated 75% have been removed from circulation by collectors, making them even harder to get hold of.

Perhaps we’ll see the popularity of these coins increase further next year when the Olympic Games will be held in Tokyo, following their postponement this year.

Another couple of sought-after 50ps we’ve been keeping our eyes on are the 2018 Peter Rabbit and Flopsy Bunny coins. Since making an appearance on the index for the first time towards the end of last year, they’ve since been creeping their way up and up. In this update, Peter Rabbit has moved up by 3 places and Flopsy Bunny by 4! As the two rarest Beatrix Potter 50ps in circulation, it’s no wonder these coins are so sought-after, but are you lucky enough to have them in your collection?

£2 Scarcity Index

The top five coins on the £2 index remain strong, with the Commonwealth Games Northern Ireland keeping its position at the top, 18 points above the second most sought-after £2 coin in circulation.

We’ve seen little activity throughout the top half of the index, with only a few coins shuffling one or two places.

However there’s been a bit more movement in the second half of the index, with the key coin to watch being the 60th Anniversary of the End of World War Two (commonly known as St Paul’s Cathedral) £2. This coin has moved up the index by 4 places and the increased popularity could possibly be due to the significant anniversary year, as 2020 marks 75 years since the end of World War Two.

We’re yet to see any new £2 coins in our change since demand has been so low, although I’m sure I speak for many collectors when I say we eagerly anticipate the release of new £2’s into circulation, hopefully in the near future.

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

Good news Change Checkers – your latest eBay Tracker and Valuation Index is here!

Whilst the secondary market can be a bit of a minefield, we’ve put together an easy way for you to see how much the Top 10 UK coins and banknotes are selling for right now.

eBay Tracker

Find out which coins and notes have been the key movers and shakers in the updated eBay Tracker below.

Once again, the Kew Gardens 50p is on the rise, this time increasing in price on the secondary market by a staggering £18! This comes after an increase of £5 on the last eBay Tracker update.

The ongoing popularity of this rare coin is clear to see and appears to be continuing to build following the 2019 re-issue of the coin to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 50p.

But will we continue to see the price of this coin rise on the secondary market? Only time will tell and we’ll have to wait for the next eBay Tracker update to find out!

2009 Kew Gardens 50p

Other coins to keep an eye on are the Commonwealth Games Northern Ireland £2 which has increased in price by £10 since the last update and the Jemima Puddle-Duck 50p which has increased by £2.

However, the biggest riser on the eBay Tracker is the Olympic Football 50p which has increased by 107% to £15.50 on the secondary market – certainly not a bad return for a 50p coin!

As the rarest Olympic 50p in circulation, with a mintage of just 1,125,500, this coin has been on collector’s radars since the Olympic 50p series sparked a collecting frenzy in 2012.

And with the Tokyo Olympics approaching this year, are we likely to see these coins become even more popular with collectors in 2020?

2011 Olympic Football 50p

Valuation Index

Overall there has been a 4% increase in value for the Top 10 UK coins and banknotes since June’s update and this is mostly due to the impressive spike in price for the Olympic football 50p.

My coin isn’t on the eBay Tracker

The eBay Tracker follows the movements of the Top 10 UK coins and banknotes, however if your coin doesn’t appear on the tracker you can use our 6 point guide to help determine realistic a value for your coin.

So now that you’re up to date with our latest eBay Tracker, will you be selling any of the coins in your collection or will you continue to save them? Let us know in the comments below.

How does the eBay Tracker work?

The Change Checker eBay Tracker takes the last 9 sold prices achieved on eBay and gives the median price achieved (rounded to the nearest 50p). By taking the median, rather than an average, we avoid skewing created by one or two excessive prices achieved.

Please note that the Change Checker eBay Tracker is only ever designed to be a guide as to prices achieved on eBay. Prices may vary depending on collector demand and the quality of the coin being sold. It does not provide any guarantee as to future values of coins.


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

January 2019 eBay Tracker Update

Sign up today at: www.changechecker.org/app