Britannia has a long standing history with British coinage. Having first appeared on a 1672 Farthing during the reign of Charles II, she subsequently featured on a British coin in one way or another for more than 300 years. In 2008 she was surprisingly dropped from the 50 pence piece despite a Daily Mail campaign to save her.
After a short absence, in February 2015 it was announced that Britannia would be making a triumphant return to British circulating coins. Antony Dufort’s modern interpretation of Britannia was to feature on Britain’s highest denomination coin, the £2, replacing the “technology” design which had featured on the coin since 1997.
It was a very popular move from The Royal Mint, even the then Prime Minister David Cameron said: “It is great to see Britannia’s welcome return to our currency. Britannia is an enduring symbol of our national identity, ideal to help reinforce the sense of shared purpose and history for Britons.”
However, it wasn’t until 2016 when The Mint released the mintage figures for the 2015 coins that the real surprise was unveiled.
Only 650,000 of the 2015 date Britannia £2 coins had been stuck for circulation, making it one of the most scarce UK £2 coins ever! So scarce in fact that there were fewer of this coin than the England and the Scotland coins from the famous 2002 Commonwealth Games series.
The astonishing fact that Britannia had appeared on a circulating British coin in one way or another in an unbroken cycle between 1672 and 2008 was enough to ensure this £2 would be a favourite with collectors. The announcement of such a low mintage figure then created somewhat of a collecting frenzy!
The 2015 Britannia coin remains highly sought after by collectors.
The UK 2015 Britannia £2 Coin
That places it third equal in the all-time low mintage charts!
The 2002 Commonwealth Games England £2 Coin was recently confirmed as the most scarce £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.
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.
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.
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.
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.