So, you've filled up your Olympic 50p album and you've got all those alphabet 10ps. What's next? Our vote is for old UK £2s, produced before the bimetallic coin we know today was introduced.
You will not find these coins in your change but they're affordable, they feature fun designs and there are just seven to collect: some much rarer than others.
When Were Two Pound Coins First Issued?
The first bi-metallic Two Pound coins entered circulation in 1998. These UK coins, produced by The Royal Mint, have a central disc of silver-coloured cupronickel and an outer ring of gold-coloured nickel-brass.
Those 1998 coins weren't the first British £2 coins though.
The earliest Two Pounds were made of gold and are also known as Double Sovereigns. These premium British coins are still made but they're pretty rare.
From 1986, new £2s were struck for coin collectors. You might have got them from your bank or local post office. These coins were made of nickel-brass and look a bit like a large old-style One Pound coin. They weren't issued in every year, just to celebrate special national events and anniversaries.
1986-1997 Two Pound Coins Specification
Weight: 15.98 grams
Diameter: 28.40 millimeters
Are Old £2 Coins UK Legal Tender?
Single-metal Two Pound coins are technically legal tender.
These are commemorative coins first and foremost but they have a face value of £2, the same as later, bi-metallic coins.
That said, there were not enough of these coins made for them to be common in circulation. If you use these coins to pay in a shop, there is a good chance that the person on the register will not recognise them.
According to The Royal Mint, you should be able to cash these old collectable coins in at Post Offices and some banks. However, we found that branches local to us in Wiltshire did not offer this service.
If you want to trade in pre-1997 Two Pound coins for easier-to-use modern coins then your best bet is taking them to your local coin dealer or antique shop. Here at The Britannia Coin Company we buy some single-metal £2 coins every day, alongside lots of other UK and world currency. You can find out how to get paid for your old coins from home on our Sell Your Coins page.
What's The Rarest Old Two Pound Coin?
Seven different commemorative Two Pound coins were produced by The Royal Mint between 1986 and 1996. Most are quite common with millions produced but one is among the rarest coins ever to see circulation in the UK.
We've ranked the old-specification £2 coins by mintage numbers from scarcest to most common. These figures come from official data, released by The Royal Mint.
|Pre-1997 Two Pound Coin
|Official Mintage Figures
|1989 Claim Of Right £2
|1994 Bank Of England £2
|1995 United Nations £2
|1989 Bill Of Rights £2
|1995 Dove £2
|1996 Football £2
|1986 Commonwealth Games £2
What Are Pre-1997 Two Pound Coins Worth?
Old specification UK £2 coins can be worth more than face value. You're unlikely to find these coins in your change, unlike commemorative 50ps or bi-metallic £2 coins. The only way to get hold of them is to dig through old money boxes (you might get lucky!) or to purchase them from a reputable dealer.
The rarer pre-1997 coins - notably the 1989 Claim of Rights £2 - are the most valuable but they are still not worth the inflated prices that some unscrupulous eBay sellers are offering them for. We've seen some listings claiming these coins are rare errors which is just not true.
Mythbusting: Old £2 coins that show the Queen wearing a necklace aren't exceptionally rare: that's just the portrait that was used on all UK coins at the time. You can see this design - the work of sculptor Raphael Maklouf - on all British coins dated 1985 to 1997.
Brilliant uncirculated editions of these Two Pound coins were also issued, alongside precious metal proof coins in silver and gold. Unsurprisingly, these limited-edition pieces are worth quite a bit more than their circulating cupronickel counterparts, particularly when they come with their original Royal Mint box and certificate of authenticity.
We stock a range of special edition pre-1997 Two Pounds, as well as the standard, base metal editions and we've got all the details on each coin below.
1986 XIII Edinburgh Commonwealth Games £2
This 1986 coin was the first commemorative Two Pound issued by The Royal Mint.
The design celebrates the 13th Commonwealth Games which took place in Edinburgh, Scotland. The work of Norman Sillman, this coin features a Scottish thistle and a wreath of laurel leaves (traditionally bestowed upon winners). The background is a Saltire or St Andrew's Cross. The edge is inscribed with the words XIII COMMONWEALTH GAMES SCOTLAND 1986'.
- 1986 Commonwealth Games £2 Circulated - 8,212,184
- 1986 Commonwealth Games £2 BU
- 1989 Commonwealth Games £2 Proof - available in 1986 premium and standard proof sets
- 1986 Commonwealth Games £2 Silver Proof - 59,779
- 1986 Commonwealth Games £2 Gold Proof - offered in 1986 3-coin Sovereign sets
1989 Bill Of Rights Tercentenary £2
This 1989 coin celebrates 300 years since the Bill of Rights. This important piece of legislation set out the terms that the newly appointed King William III and Queen Mary II would rule, limiting their powers and establishing the rights of Parliament. John Lobban's design features William and Mary's 'WM' cypher and St Edward's Crown, used to crown British monarchs.
- 1989 Bill Of Rights £2 Circulated - 4,392,825
- 1989 Bill Of Rights £2 BU - included in a two-part set in a presentation folder
- 1989 Bill Of Rights £2 Proof - comes in 1989 standard and premium proof sets
- 1989 Bill Of Rights £2 Silver Proof - included in a two-coin set: 25,000 authorised
- 1989 Bill Of Rights £2 Piedfort Silver Proof - limited edition two coin set (mintage limit: 10,000)
1989 Claim Of Right Tercentenary £2
The rarest modern Two Pound coin ever struck for circulation!
This is the companion piece to the Bill of Rights £2 and commemorates corresponding Scottish legislation: the Claim Of Right. The design of this Two Pound is very similar to the Bill Of Rights coin: the difference is that this one shows the Crown of Scotland, together with a legend that reads 'TERCENTENARY OF THE CLAIM OF RIGHT'.
- 1989 Claim Of Right £2 Circulated - 381,400
- 1989 Claim Of Right £2 BU - available in a two pieces set
- 1989 Claim Of Right £2 Proof - inside 1989 standard and premium proof sets
- 1989 Claim Of Right £2 Silver Proof - in a two-coin set (mintage limit: 25,000)
- 1989 Claim Of Rights £2 Piedfort Silver Proof - limited edition two coin set (10,000)
1994 Bank Of England Foundation Tercentenary £2
The Bank of England was established in 1694 and this Two Pound coin marks this venerable institution's 300th anniversary. Two of the original stockholders were William and Mary, the King and Queen at the time. Their crowned 'WM' cypher appears on this 1994 coin, designed by Leslie Durbin, above the Bank's original corporate seal. The edge reads 'SIC VOS NON VOBIS' - 'For You, But Not Yours'.
- 1994 Bank Of England £2 Circulated - 1,443,116
- 1994 Bank Of England £2 BU - in a presentation folder
- 1994 Bank Of England £2 Proof - available in standard and premium 1994 proof sets
- 1994 Bank Of England £2 Silver Proof - 27,957
- 1994 Bank Of England £2 Piedfort Silver Proof - 9,569
- 1994 Bank Of England £2 Gold Proof - issued individually and in 1994 3-coin and 4-coin Sovereign sets
- 1994 Bank Of England £2 Gold Proof Error - unknown number struck with incorrect legend
1995 End Of World War Two 50th Anniversary (Dove) £2
This 1995 £2 was issued by The Royal Mint to mark fifty years since the end of the Second World War. John Mill's iconic design symbolises peace, showing a dove carrying an olive branch in its beak. Interestingly, this coin is only dated on its edge which reads: '1945 IN PEACE GOODWILL 1995'.
The 1995 Dove of Peace Two Pound was issued in the following finishes:
- 1995 Dove £2 Circulated - 4,394,566 minted
- 1995 Dove £2 BU - in printed card presentation folder
- 1995 Dove £2 Proof - issued in 1995 premium proof sets and standard proof sets
- 1995 Dove £2 Silver Proof - limit: 35,751
- 1995 Dove £2 Piedfort Silver Proof - limit: 10,000
- 1995 Dove £2 Gold Proof - available in 1995 3-coin and 4-coin Sovereign sets as well as an individual presentation (2,500)
1995 United Nations Foundation 50th Anniversary £2
Featuring an array of national flags, this Two Pound coin, the second issued in 1995, is a celebration of the United Nations, fifty years on from its foundation in the aftermath of WW2. The organisation brings the countries of the world together on matters of security, social progress and peace. The design by Michael Rizzello incorporates the distinctive UN logo. The legend reads: 'NATIONS UNITED FOR PEACE 1945 - 1995'.
- 1995 United Nations £2 Circulated - 1,668,575 issued
- 1995 United Nations £2 BU - comes in a card folder
- 1995 United Nations £2 Proof - found inside 1995 standard and premium proof sets
- 1995 United Nations £2 Silver Proof - large issue of 175,000 coins
- 1995 United Nations £2 Piedfort Silver Proof - 10,000 struck by The Royal Mint
- 1995 United Nations £2 Gold Proof - issued limit: 17,500
1996 Tenth European Football Championship £2
The final single-metal £2 issued in the UK was this 1996 coin in the shape of a football. In this year, England hosted the UEFA European Championship. The England team didn't win Euro 96 and haven't taken home the trophy yet but that hasn't stopped this commemorative £2 from becoming popular among sporting fans and collectors of British coins. John Wills' sporting design features sixteen rings, representing the participating teams. The edge reads 'TENTH EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP'.
- 1996 Football £2 Circulated - 5,141,350 issued
- 1996 Football £2 BU - in a card presentation folder from the Mint
- 1996 Football £2 Proof - available in standard and premium 1996 proof sets
- 1996 Football £2 Silver Proof - 25,163 struck
- 1996 Football £2 Piedfort Silver Proof - limited mintage of 7,634 coins
- 1996 Football £2 Gold Proof - 17,500 issued in Au
Are Old UK Two Pound Coins Collectable?
If you are a serious UK change collector, you will want to get hold of pre-1997 £2 coins. In fact, your Two Pound collection would hardly be complete without them.
Because they cannot be found in your change it can be challenging to finish your old Two Pound coin collection. The rarest issues like the 1989 Claim Of Right Tercentenary £2 can be expensive and hard to get hold of for a fair price.
You will need to decide whether you want to purchase circulated, brilliant uncirculated or proof editions. Precious metal versions of these early Two Pound coins sell from a premium, more than a quarter century after they were issued, but the proof finish is the best way to appreciate their unique designs.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Old UK 2 Pound coins are still technically legal tender but most shops and banks won't accept them. Change collectors value these commemorative coins, some of which are rare and worth more than their £2 face value. Others are more common since millions were struck.
Some pre-1997 £2s are rarer than others and can sell for respectable prices on eBay. If you can find somewhere to exchange them then you will be offered their face value: Two Pounds. Collector's editions in gold and silver are worth a lot more than £2.
Old gold-coloured UK £2 coins dated before 1997 are real money - that's just what these collectable coins looked like before the modern bi-metallic Royal Mint coin was introduced. They are still technically legal tender but most shops and banks will not accept them as currency.
Two Pound coins made before 1997 are technically legal tender but most shops, banks and post offices won’t recognise or accept them. Today they are more valuable to collectors who love these historic British coins and are keen to add them to their change collections.
The rarest Two Pound coin ever circulated is the 1989 Claim of Right £2 with just 381,400 made. This coin does not look like a modern bi-metallic Two Pound but is considerably more scarce than the next rarest coin, the 2002 Commonwealth Games Northern Ireland £2.
Some sources say that you can exchange old, single-metal Two Pound coins dated before 1997 at Post Offices and banks. We have not found that to be the case and nor can you use these coins to pay in most shops, despite the fact that they are technically legal tender.
While some newspaper reports suggest that you can exchange old Two Pound coins at banks and Post Offices, we found that outlets near our offices in Wiltshire did not offer this service. Since it is difficult to spend these coins in shops your best bet might be visiting a coin dealer.
Collectors looking to acquire an example of every £2 coin issued in the UK would not be able to finish their collection without including early, pre-1997 Two Pounds. These coins look different to their modern bimetallic counterparts but feature similar commemorative designs.
Old UK coins may have value to collectors or in their precious metal content since silver-coloured coins issued before 1947 contain a percentage of real silver. The most profitable way to get rid of these coins may be by selling them to a reputable coin dealer in your area.
Some news articles suggest that you can exchange older Two Pound coins for new ones at your local Post Office. Some branches may indeed offer this service but we found that our closest Post Office outlets would not accept these coins or other older British coins either.