In March 2015, the UK treasury confirmed that 1p and 2p coins will continue to be used “for years to come”. However, it has recently been suggested that due to a cash usage slump, The Royal Mint is set to go ten years without producing anymore 2p coins!
But it’s not just our coppers at stake.. The same applies for £2 coins, as it has been revealed that in March 2020, The Royal Mint was sitting on 26 times as many £2 coins as it needed to.
According to the National Audit Office’s report into Britain’s cash usage, the number of coins produced each year by The Royal Mint fell by nearly two-thirds between 2011 and this year.
Less than a quarter of all payments were made by cash last year, according to figures released in June by the banking trade body UK Finance.
It’s fair to assume that even less cash has been used since the start of 2020 due to the coronavirus leading to fears of cash usage and a move to more contactless payments.
However, The Mint told Britain’s spending watchdog that there had been ‘sharp increases in demand’ for change ‘as many businesses and consumers hoarded coins in the early months of the pandemic’.
As a result, the Treasury ordered The Royal Mint to strike 60 million additional 1p coins over the summer to meet this new demand. So make sure you keep your eyes peeled for these new 1p coins, especially if you’re collecting dateruns!
The Royal Mint are required to forecast the demand for small change to ensure it keeps enough coins in stock without striking too few or too many, but with significant fluctuations in consumer behaviour in recent years, this has no doubt been a challenge.
In 2017, after the introduction of the new 12-sided £1, The Royal Mint saw a swell in its coin stocks as people rushed to return their round pounds, ending up returning loose change of other denominations at the same time.
According to the NAO, at the end of March, The Royal Mint aimed to hold 700,000 £2 coins, but actually held 18.7million. And rather than holding its target of 15.9million 2p coins, it held 127.1million.
As a result, in March of this year, The NAO said The Royal Mint had estimated ‘it did not envisage producing any new 2p or £2 coins for at least 10 years’.
We haven’t seen a £2 enter circulation since 2016, so, could this mean that those 2016 dated £2s and 2017 dated 2p coins are the last of their kind? We certainly hope not.
But what about our coppers? Do you think we still need 1p and 2p coins in circulation? Have your say by voting in our poll on Facebook.
And what could the future for Britain’s definitive coinage be if the 1p and 2p coins were removed? Currently the definitive coins from 1p to 50p come together to create The Royal Shield, but with two key pieces missing, could this lead to a complete re-design?
We’d love to hear what you think about the use of cash vs card and the demand for our smaller denominations, so leave us a comment below to share your thoughts.
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
The £2 coin was released in 1986, when this brand new denomination was introduced for the very first time.
The XIII Commonwealth Games was the first commemorative £2 coin and was issued for a non-royal event which gripped the nation. I can only imagine what an exciting time it must have been for people to discover these brand new coins which marked such a significant change in the UK’s commemorative coin issuing strategy.
These coins are considered rare due to the fact that although are legal tender, they were never common in everyday circulation and were struck mainly for collectors.
Six more single coloured £2 coins were struck over the next 10 years before the introduction of the fully circulating bi-metallic £2 denomination in 1998, which has seen 47 different designs in total so far.
So, let’s take a step back in time to 1986 and delve into the history of Britain’s commemorative £2 coins…
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.
Edge Inscription: XIII COMMONWEALTH GAMES SCOTLAND 1986
In 1689, Prince William and Mary accepted the Declaration of Rights prior to being offered the throne, which effectively shifted the balance of power from the Crown to Parliament and changed the course of British political history. These £2 coins were issued in 1989 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of this landmark Act. There were 2 versions of each coin issued – English and Scottish. The English reverse designs features the Crown of St Edward and the inscription ‘Tercentenary of the Claim of Right’ and ‘Tercentenary of the Bill of Rights’ respectively.
Bank of England £2
When William and Mary came to the throne in 1689, 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.
Edge Inscriptions: SIC VOS NON VOBIS (thus you labour but not for yourselves)
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”.
Edge Inscriptions: 1945 IN PEACE GOODWILL 1995
United Nations £2
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.
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, 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.
Edge Inscriptions: TENTH EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP
Following a review of the United Kingdom’s coinage, the decision was made that a general-circulation £2 coin was needed and so the new bi-metallic coin was introduced on the 15th June 1998.
As the first bi-metallic coin ever used in the UK, the £2 yet again revolutionised Britain’s coinage and changed the face of these incredibly popular coins, allowing them to be both commemorative and circulated, which has had a great impact for collectors who are able to find these coins in their change.
Do you have any of the above £2 coins?