The Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games £2 is a highly valuable £2 coin, and in this article, we’ll explain exactly why and how you can spot one apart from the very similar England £2 issued in the same year.
If you want some proof of how valuable this coin is, we scanned eBay and according to the most recent values in 2022 the coin sells for an average of £37 – not bad for a coin you can find in your change!
Let’s waste no more time and get straight into it.
The Rarest £2 Coin
The 2002 Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games £2 is the rarest £2 in circulation, with a circulating mintage of just 485,500. For some context, the ever elusive Kew Gardens 50p is the rarest of the 50p coins and had a mintage of 210,000.
Interestingly, all four of the Commonwealth Games £2 coins issued in 2002 are incredibly rare and have a mintage of less than 800,000.
As with most commemorative £2 coins, the Royal Mint issued the Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games £2 coin in proof versions for collectors, and the mintages for these coins are summarised in the table below.
|In Coin Sets||47,895|
|Silver Proof Piedfort||3,497|
Other Coins Commemorating The Commonwealth Games
Aside from the other coins in the 2002 Commonwealth Games £2 coin series (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) there are no other circulating £2 coins that commemorate the Games.
There was a 50p issued into circulation for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and this year the Royal Mint has issued uncirculated 50p coins to celebrate the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The coin is identical to the other three Commonwealth Games coins minted in 2002 except for one important detail; the flag inside the circle is the flag of Northern Ireland.
Matthew Bonaccorsi designed the reverse image to depict a running athlete holding a banner overhead. The banner represents the celebration, victory, and sportsmanship that is associated with the Commonwealth Games.
Since swimming is one of the most popular events in the Commonwealth Games, the banner on the coin is divided into lines that represent the lanes of a swimming pool and waves as it winds around the left side of the coin and across the mid-section of the runner.
The image extends from the centre of the coin out to the bi-metallic outer rim. The words XVII COMMONWEALTH GAMES 2002 are curved around the image on the right side and appear in the gold-coloured portion of the coin.
The £2 is seen just to the right of the athlete’s chest. The designer’s initials MB are on the outer bi-metallic rim on the left side of the coin’s inside circle slightly above one of the curved waves of the banner.
The milled edge inscription of the coin reads SPIRIT OF FRIENDSHIP – MANCHESTER 2002.
The obverse of the coin features the Fourth Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II that appeared on the two pound coin from 1998 to 2015.
How To Tell The Difference Between The Irish And English Coins
Due to the similarities between the flags, the Ireland and England Commonwealth Games £2 coins look very similar.
The key to differentiating between the two is to look at the centre of the flag where the lines meet. The Irish coin has more detail in this area in the form of a crown and hand within a star, whereas the English variety has no detail.
This can be tricky to spot at first, but it becomes quite easy to see once you look in the right area.
The Designer Of The Coin
Matt Bonaccorsi is a freelance 3D designer and sculptor who specializes in bas-relief design, which is a piece of artwork that is sculpted. He has decades of experience in the medal-making industry and in coin design. He trained as a jeweller and a silversmith before undertaking an apprenticeship in hand engraving at the British Royal Mint in 1996.
He became Chief Engraver at the Royal Mint in 2004. He worked at the Royal Mint as a coin designer until 2011. In addition to designing the 2002 Commonwealth coin, he was also the design advisor to the London 2012 Olympic medal team.
Commonwealth Games 2002
The coin was released as part of a collection to commemorate the XVII Commonwealth Games that were held in Manchester in 2002. The event featured 17 sports and 281 total events.
Before London hosted the 2012 Olympics, the Commonwealth Games in Manchester were one of the biggest sporting and cultural events up to that point. The games were commonly known as Manchester 2002, held in Manchester, England.
The games were to be hosted in the United Kingdom to coincide with the Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II. Additionally, the games were important to Manchester since the city wanted to display how much it had changed since the 1996 bombing by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA). Ultimately, the Games proved to be a success also in helping to regenerate the city.
The four home nations of the United Kingdom, England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland sent separate teams to the Commonwealth Games. The country has participated in all but two of the Commonwealth Games held to date.
They began participating in 1934, at the second games held and did not compete in 1930 as a separate country since there was a single team from Ireland that year. Their Commonwealth Games Federation CGF code is NIR. Northern Ireland finished in 17th place winning 2 gold medals, 2 silver medals, and 1 bronze medal for a total of 5 medals in all.