Published on April 1st, 2015 | by Sarah Jubb
History Of The Two Pence Coin
Continuing on from our one pence coin article, this week we take a look at the two pence coin. According to the Royal Mint there are an estimated 6,557 million two pence coins in circulation in the UK.
Though the two pence coin was introduced in 1971 for the decimalisation of the British currency, a twopence coin did exist in the 18th century. It was worth 1/120th of a pound and was only minted in 1797. They were made from copper due to a coin shortage as pennies at the time were made from silver. In 1860 they became redundant when new coins were introduced that were minted in bronze.
The current coin has been in circulation since Decimal Day in 1971 and until 2008 featured a design by Christopher Ironside who was also responsible for the look of the one pence coin. The design was the Badge of the Prince of Wales, which features ostrich feathers in a coronet. On either side of the coronet was the German motto ‘Ich Dien’ which means ‘I serve’.
Like the one pence coin, the two pence also originally had ‘NEW PENCE’ written along the top of the design, signifying that this was one of the newly created pennies. After 1982 however, it became ‘TWO PENCE’, which has remained on the coin ever since.
An error in 1983 resulted in the Royal Mint accidently producing a number of two pence coins that had the ‘NEW PENCE’ inscription instead of the newer ‘TWO PENCE’. As a result of this, they have become collector’s items due to the rarity of them, being worth up to £700 each. It is important to note though that this only applies to coins that are minted in 1983, coins with ‘NEW PENCE’ from 1971 to 1981 have the same value as every 2p coin.
Since 2008 the reverse side has featured another part of the Royal Shield that is now on all the current circulating coins apart from the £2 coin, designed by Matthew Dent. Each coin features a different section of the shield and when put together will form the complete image. The two pence coin shows the upper right section of the shield which features the Lion Rampant that is from the Royal Banner of Scotland.
Currently the two pence coin has the Ian Rank-Broadley version of the Queen’s Portrait which was introduced in 1998. The unveiling of the new Queen’s coin portrait means that new two pence coins will feature the updated version of the portrait.