Published on May 15th, 2015 | by Sarah Jubb
The History of the Two Pound Coin
In our final article in our history of British legal tender series we focus on the largest coin in circulation with a diameter of 28.4mm, the two pound coin. It was first introduced in 1998, making it the last coin to enter circulation in Britain and was brought in after it was decided a £2 coin was needed.
It has a distinct bi-metallic design that when combined with its large size makes it stand out from other coins. The gold and silver colouring is similar to the €1 coin as both have a gold outer edge and a silver inner circle. It must be noted though that the two pound coin entered circulation before the euro coin, which was only introduced in 2002.
The outer ring of the two pound coin is made from nickel brass, the same material that makes the one pound coin and gives it its yellow-gold colour. The centre is made from cupro nickel, similar to the twenty pence and fifty pence coins and gives it the silver colouring.
The standard reverse design featured on the two pound coin was designed by Bruce Rushin and represents the technological development from the Iron Age through to the Internet. The inscription along the edge, ‘Standing on the shoulders of giants’ is a quote from Sir Isaac Newton who was the Warden and Master of the Royal Mint.
Each year the Royal Mint releases a new design to commemorate various important events in British history and culture, just as with the fifty pence coin. In more recent years, there have been two designs released each year, celebrating events such as the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, the 500th anniversary of the maiden voyage of the Mary Rose and bi-centenary of the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire to name a few.
These changing designs help to make the two pound coin a great collector’s item along with the fifty pence coin. They are particularly ideal for new collectors as all the designs can be easily found in circulation, making it a simple and relatively cheap way to begin a new collection.
In 2015 the Royal Mint released a coin to celebrate the achievements of the Royal Navy during World War One and 100 of these coins have been declared the rarest two pound coins in circulation. This is because these 100 coins were issued in partnership with the HMS Belfast in London and will be the last coins issued that will feature the current Queen’s portrait.
The second version of the coin will feature the new portrait of the Queen which has been designed by Jody Clark. Also in 2015, Britannia will finally take her place back on British currency after being absent from the fifty pence coins for seven years. She will however, take her pride of place on the reverse of the two pound coin instead of her traditional coin.