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Commemorative £2 coins
The history of UK commemorative £2 coins is complex and confusing. Confusion occurs because, in addition to common circulating currency coins issued in 1998, there have also been numerous other commemorative £2 coins. This includes various celebratory £2 coins, plus collectible bullion Double Sovereigns. All of these also have a legal tender face value of two pounds.
All gold Double Sovereigns have a legal tender face value of £2, but there are other gold bullion coins with a legal tender of £2. These include many proof and commemorative £2 coins, but strictly speaking, they are not Double Sovereigns. They are, however, often referred to as Double Sovereigns.
£2 circulation coins
The current £2 bi-metallic coins were first minted by the Royal Mint in 1997. They were introduced as common currency on June 15th, 1998. It is the highest value circulating coin in the UK.
No £2 coins were released for common circulation during the introduction of the 12-sided bi-metallic one pound coin in 2017. Except for this, it has been issued every year since 1998. The 1998 release followed earlier, uni-metallic, celebratory versions which were minted from 1986 to 1996. Unlike the 1998 coins, these early commemorative £2 coins were intended for collectors and not issued as circulation currency.
Commemorative 2 pound coins
The following is a list of the commemorative 2 pound coins issued by the Royal Mint. Some of these were circulating coins, but also had gold bullion versions released for collectors and investors.
- 1986: XIII Commonwealth Games
- 1989: Tercentenary of the Bill of Rights
- 1989: Tercentenary of the Claim of Right
- 1994: Tercentenary of the Bank of England
- 1995: 50th Anniversary of the end of the Second World War
- 1995: 50th Anniversary of the founding of the United Nations
- 1996: 10th European Football Championship
- 1999: 1999 Rugby World Cup
- 2001: 100th Anniversary of Marconi's 1st Atlantic Transmission
- 2002: XVII Commonwealth Games in Manchester
- 2003: 50th Anniversary of the discovery of DNA
- 2004: 200th Anniversary of the first steam locomotive by Richard Trevithick
- 2005: 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot
- 2005: 60th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day
- 2006: Bicentennial of the birth of Isambard Kingdom Brunel
- 2007: Tercentenary of the Act of Union between England and Scotland
- 2007: Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade in the British Empire
- 2008: Olympic Handover Ceremony
- 2008: The Centenary of the London Olympic Games of 1908
- 2009: 250th Anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns
- 2009: 200th Anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth
- 2010: 100th Anniversary of the death of Florence Nightingale
- 2011: 400th Anniversary of the King James Bible
- 2011: 500th Anniversary of the maiden voyage of the Mary Rose
- 2012: 200th Anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens
- 2012: The London 2012 Handover to Rio
- 2013: London Underground 150th Anniversary
- 2013: The 350th Anniversary of the Guinea
- 2014: 100th Anniversary of the Outbreak of the First World War
- 2014: 500th Anniversary of Trinity House
- 2015: 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta
- 2015: The Royal Navy
- 2016: William Shakespeare
- 2016: The Army
- 2016: The Great Fire of London
- 2017: Jane Austen
- 2017: First World War Aviation
- 2018: 100th Anniversary of the Royal Air Force
- 2018: The 100th Anniversary of the First World War Armistice
- 2018: The 200th Anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein
- 2019: Wedgewood 260th Anniversary
2019: The 350th Anniversary of the last diary entry of Samuel Pepys
The first gold Double Sovereign to enter into circulation was issued to celebrate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887. This followed the introduction of the ‘modern’ gold Sovereign in 1817, with a face value of £1. The design of the Double Sovereign follows the normal Sovereign - that is the monarch's head on the obverse, and George and the Dragon on the reverse.
The 1887 Double Sovereign was the first £2 coin to enter circulation.
As far back as even 1485, there had been previous attempts to issue a double sovereign. Some of these early coins were struck, but none entered into circulation.
Even though they are classified as legal tender, gold Double Sovereigns and gold £2 coins are minted as collectable or bullion coins. Being legal tender, Sovereigns and other gold coins enjoy tax benefits over gold bars with the same gold content.
All gold Sovereigns and gold £2 coins have a fineness of 916.7 or 22 carat. For comparison Gold Britannia coins are 999.9 fineness or 24 carat and have a legal tender face value of £100. The Double Sovereign has a pure gold content of 14.63 g. This is very slightly over double that of the Sovereign, which has 7.322 g. The total weight of the Sovereign is 7.98 and that of the Double Sovereign 15.98 g.
In addition to the Royal Mint Double Sovereigns, the Pobjoy Mint in Surrey, also mints an Isle of Man Double Sovereign. It has the same metal content as the Royal Mint Double Sovereign. The reverse, however, shows a Norse Warrior on horseback, rather than George and the dragon.