How to identify the UK’s rarest £2 coin

The 2002 Commonwealth Games England £2 Coin was recently confirmed as the most scare £2 coin in the UK in our latest Scarcity Index update. It jumped up two places to the top spot increasing its score by 19 points, from 81 to 100.

But you’d be forgiven for thinking that this coin is easy to identify.

In fact, only the most eagle-eyed collectors will be able to spot the difference between the four £2 coins that make up the 2002 Commonwealth Games £2 series.

The four coins feature the same base design, making them hard to tell apart

There’s a number of reasons they’re hard to tell apart. Firstly, there isn’t just one Commonwealth Games £2 coin but in fact four different designs – only identified by a hardly distinguishable cameo design representing each of the UK’s constituent nations, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England.

Further confusion arises when the flags are shrunk to less than 1mm in size, struck during the minting process and subjected to the usual wear and tear of a circulation coin. By this stage they all start to look very similar.

Wear and tear can make it harder to distinguish between the 4 Commonwealth £2 coins

Tougher still, the only difference between England’s ‘St George Cross’ flag and Northern Ireland’s ‘Ulster Banner’ flag is the ‘Red Hand of Ulster’, the star and the crown which feature at the centre.

The ”Red Hand of Ulster’, the star and the crown are the only difference between the two flags

On uncirculated coins it is usually possible to see the difference between the flags and determine which coin you have found.

However, to be able to identify a circulation 2002 Commonwealth Games England £2 coin with certainty, you will likely need a magnifying instrument, such as a Phonescope. The Phonescope works by clipping onto a mobile or tablet device, magnifying the camera and allowing you to take  close-up photos and videos.


The Phonescope is the perfect tool for viewing the details of coins up close.

Suitable for all popular smartphones and tablets.

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Here’s when the new Jane Austen £10 banknote is being released…

Today, on the 200th Anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, The Bank of England officially revealed the new £10 polymer banknote in a ceremony at Winchester Cathedral – the burial place of Jane Austen. 

Winchester Cathedral- the burial place of Jane Austen

What does it look like?

The new £10 note features a portrait image of Jane Austen (commissioned by her nephew James Edward Austen Leigh in 1870), alongside the famous quotation from her novel Pride and Prejudice: ‘I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!” 

The new Jane Austen £10 banknote – Source: Bank of England

Jane Austen’s writing table – the central design in the background is inspired by the 12 sided writing table, and writing quills, used by Jane Austen at Chawton Cottage.​ An illustration of Miss Elizabeth Bennet undertaking “The examination of all the letters which Jane had written to her” from a drawing by Isobel Bishop (1902-1988) is also featured.

The new £10 note is 15% smaller than the current £10 note – Source: Bank of England

There is also an image of Godmersham Park, the home of Edward Austen Knight (Jane Austen’s brother). It is believed that she visited the house often and it was the inspiration for a number of Jane Austen’s novels.

When can I find one in my change?

The new note will enter circulation on 14th September this year. However, with millions of existing ten pound notes still in use you may not be able to find one straight away.

Will I still be able to spend my current £10 notes?

Yes you will, but only up until a Spring 2018 – a withdrawal date has not yet been announced.  As with the old paper £5 notes, the £10 note will eventually cease to be legal tender – but you will still be able to exchange them at the Bank of England.

What will happen to the paper £10 notes once they’re no longer legal tender?

There are approximately 723,000,000 paper ten pound notes in circulation, but the Bank of England does have a plan for them.

Once the Bank of England start to withdraw the paper £10 notes from circulation, they will be recycled.

In the early 2000s, the Bank of England introduced a new way to get rid of its old notes – by recycling them with a composting treatment similar to that used with food waste.

This recycling method was put into place for all paper-note waste in 2011, using them as a soil improver for agriculture.

So the new era of Plastic Banknotes is officially upon us! What do you make of the new Jane Austen design? 


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2017 Quarter 2 Change Checker “Scarcity Index” Released

Following the launch of the Change Checker “Scarcity Index” earlier this year the Quarter 2 Index has just been published.

It takes into account all of the latest ownership and swap information and, most importantly, this Quarter factors in the Royal Mint’s confirmed mintage figures for the 2016 releases.

Jemima Puddle-duck confirmed as most sought-after Beatrix Potter 50p.

For many Change Checkers, the most eagerly anticipated information concerns the Beatrix Potter 50p coins. Following confirmation of the low Jemima Puddle-duck mintage in comparison to the other 3 character designs, we can see the significant effect on the Scarcity Index – with Jemima Puddle-duck holding a scarcity score of over double the next character, Squirrel Nutkin.

For those of you still keen to add Jemima Puddle-duck to your collection, why not enter our Face Value Ballot.

Elsewhere among the 50p coins, it will be of little surprise that Kew Gardens maintains its top spot as the UK’s most sought after circulation coin, whilst Isaac Newton debuts with a score of 23 after its surprise limited release into circulation last month. That will certainly be one to watch over next quarter.

New coin crowned as the UK’s scarcest £2 Coin

Interestingly, the £2 Scarcity Index has seen a new coin top the list. Jumping up 2 places and from an Index score of 81, the England Commonwealth Games £2 coin takes the crown this quarter, benefiting from extra swap interest. However, there are no great surprises when you look at the other top 4 £2 coins, which comprise the other Commonwealth Games coins. Indeed the average Scarcity Index Score for the 4 Commonwealth Games coins has jumped almost 10 points for 85.5 to 94.75.

Elsewhere, we have seen a relaxation in the figures for the 2016 coins as they have made their way into wider circulation and The Royal Mint has confirmed sensible mintages.

How the Scarcity Index works

Generally collectors have had to rely upon mintage figures to identify the scarcest coins.  But they only tell part of the story.  Trying to find a good quality coin from 15 – 20 years ago, even for a higher mintage issue, is much more challenging than a more recent issue, as coins become damaged over time and are ultimately removed from circulation.

Additionally, some designs are more hoarded than others by people who might not normally collect coins – the recent poignant First World War £2 Coin series being an example.  Finally, it can be up to a couple of years before the Royal Mint eventually confirms the actual mintage for an issue.

That’s why we have combined the mintage information with two other key pieces of information.

  • How many of each design are listed as “collected” by Change Checkers, indicating the relative ease of finding a particular coin.
  • The number of times a design has been requested as a swap over the previous 3 months, showing the current level of collector demand.

Importantly, as new coins are released and popularity rises and falls across different designs the Scarcity Index will be updated quarterly allowing Change Checkers to track the relative performance of the UK’s circulation coins.

How much are my coins worth?

The Scarcity Index does not necessarily equate to value but it is certainly an effective indicator.  For example, the Kew Gardens 50p coin commands a premium of up to 160 times face value on eBay.

What about £1 Coins?

The £1 Scarcity Index has already been published for the Round £1 coins and, because they are no longer being issued, this is now set in stone.

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