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British coin Two Pounds

This article discusses the British Two Pounds coins, both the commemorative issues issued between 1986 and 1996, and the regular bimetallic circulation coin first issued in 1998, dated 1997, only. For earlier Two Pounds coins issued in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, please see here.

The commemorative Two Pounds (2) coin was minted from the same composition as the 1 coin, i.e. a nickel-brass alloy of approximately 70% copper, 24.5% nickel, and 5.5% zinc. The coin weighs 15.98 grams and has a diameter of 28.40 millimetres.

The only obverse used by the commemorative 2 coin is the head of Queen Elizabeth II by Raphael Maklouf, with the inscription ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA F D TWO POUNDS.

There were seven issues of this coin, with the following reverses and inscriptions:

1. Thistle on St Andrews' Cross, 1986 above. Edge inscription: XIII COMMONWEALTH GAMES SCOTLAND 1986

2. Intertwined W and M with mace, English crown above, 1689 over 1989 below, TERCENTENARY OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS above. No edge inscription.

3. Intertwined W and M with mace, Scottish crown above, 1689 over 1989 below, TERCENTENARY OF THE CLAIM OF RIGHT above. No edge inscription.

4. Seal of the Bank of England, Intertwined W and M surmounted by crown above legend BANK OF ENGLAND 1694 1994. Edge inscription: SIC VOS NON VOBIS above. Commemorates the tercentenary of the Bank of England.

5. Dove carrying olive branch. Edge inscription: 1945 IN PEACE GOODWILL 1995. Commemorates the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. An unusual coin in only having the date on its edge.

6. Array of flags, 50 and UN symbol Legend: NATIONS UNITED FOR PEACE 1945 - 1995. No edge inscription. Commemorates the 50th anniversary of the United Nations.

7. Representation of a Football, 1996 in centre, 16 small rings. Edge inscription: TENTH EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP. Commemorates the "Euro 96" European Football Championships.

These coins tended not to circulate at the time of their issue, but they do seem to appear in circulation more often now that there is also a circulating coin of this denomination.

In 1997 a new design was produced, intended to circulate on a daily basis. It is the first bi-metallic coin to be produced for circulation in Britain since the tin farthings with a copper plug, produced in 1692. The coins consist of an outer gold-coloured nickel-brass ring, comprised of 76% copper, 20% zinc, and 4% nickel, and an inner silver-coloured cupro-nickel inner disc comprised of 75% copper, 25% nickel. The coins weigh 12.00 grams and are 28.40 millimetres in diameter.

Because of technical difficulties, the 1997-dated coins which bear the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II by Raphael Maklouf were not released to circulation until June 1998 (the same time as the 1998-dated coins). 1998 and later dated coins bear the effigy of the Queen by Ian Rank-Broadley. The comparative rarity of the Maklouf coins ("the ones with the necklace") has led to an urban legend that they are much more valuable than the other coins, but this is absolutely not true -- there are over 13 million 1997-dated 2's in circulation. The Maklouf-effigy coins bear the inscription ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA F D on the obverse; the Rank-Broadley coins bear the inscription ELIZABETH II DEI GRA REG FID DEF.

The normal reverse of the coin bears a concentric design symbolically representing technological development from the Iron Age, through the Industrial Revolution and the Electronic Age to the Internet, with the inscription TWO POUNDS above the design and the date below. The coin has the edge inscription STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS.

This denomination is now commonly used for commemorative purposes, and the following varieties have been issued:

1. Reverse contains a symbolic representation of a stadium with a rugby ball and goalposts; 1999 above the design, TWO POUNDS below. Edge inscription RUGBY WORLD CUP 1999. 4.9 million coins in circulation.

2. Reverse contains a symbolic representation Marconi's transatlantic wireless transmission of 1901; TWO POUNDS below. Edge inscription WIRELESS BRIDGES THE ATLANTIC...MARCONI...1901.

3 to 6. Reverse contains XVII COMMONWEALTH GAMES 2002 around an athlete holding a banner, 2 in front and the national flag (separate coin issues showing the national flags of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland). Edge inscription SPIRIT OF FRIENDSHIP MANCHESTER 2002.

7. Reverse contains a representation of the DNA double helix, DNA DOUBLE HELIX above, 1953 TWO POUNDS 2003 below. Edge inscription DEOXYRIBONUCLEIC ACID.

See also British coinage.

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