The £2 coin was first introduced into the United Kingdom’s currency system in 1986 to commemorate the thirteenth Commonwealth Games. Since then, the coin has undergone several changes and many commemorative versions of the coin have been released into circulation.
The mintage figure for each new coin released varies leading to some £2 coins being rarer than others. Demand for these coins is high from collectors across the UK, but what are the top 5 rarest £2 coins?
What makes a £2 coin rare?
When it comes to rarity, the key is in the mintage. It’s a simple fact that the fewer the coins produced of a particular design, the rarer the coin and usually the more sought after the coin becomes. But is there anything else that can impact the rarity of a £2 coin?
From our experience, coins that are made in honour of a popular event or something well known to the general British public are generally better received. This is because they appeal to a wider range of people and offer value to those who wouldn’t normally collect coins. Take the London 2012 Olympic Games for example, a huge sporting event that brought the nation together. The commemorative Olympic 50p coins that were released by the Royal Mint remain one of the biggest and most sought-after collections to have ever been made with people still trying to complete the set to this day.
When a popular coin is released, it is inevitably collected much faster than others meaning a large proportion of them are taken out of circulation in a short amount of time. This can skew the rarity as there are fewer of them still in active circulation to be collected and people are more likely to want to keep the coins rather than sell them on.
In general, the rarity of a coin can easily be determined by looking at the selling price on resell websites such as eBay. Rarer coins will typically sell for more although as you will see later, the popularity of a coin can cause coins with a higher mintage figure to be more valuable.
The top 5 rarest £2 coins
You might be surprised to find that 4 of the top 5 rarest £2 coins have an almost identical design and were made in honour of the same event. To showcase a wider range of designs for you to keep an eye out for, we’ve included a few extra coins that are guaranteed to make you a profit if you’re lucky enough to find them.
2002 Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games £2 Coin
Mintage = 485,500
Estimated Value = £40
By far the rarest of any £2 coin released into circulated is the 2002 Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games £2 coin. The coin was released as part of a collection to commemorate the XVII Commonwealth Games held in Manchester in 2002, one of the biggest sporting and cultural events from around the world.
Designed by Matthew Bonaccorsi, the reverse image depicts a running athlete holding a banner above their head and is said to represent the ‘celebration, victory and sportsmanship’ that is associated with the games. The athlete’s banner is divided into lines to represent the lanes of a swimming pool, as swimming is one of the most popular events within the Commonwealth Games.
The flag of Northern Ireland is highlighted behind the athlete and the edge inscription of the coin reads ‘SPIRIT OF FRIENDSHIP – MANCHESTER 2002’. This coin is not to be mistaken for the other coins in the Commonwealth Games collection, which are identical except for the flag displayed. The Northern Ireland version of the coin is particularly similar to the England version thanks to the small differences in their flags that are hard to depict in detail on such a small scale.
To ensure you have the rarest version of this coin, look out for the small star and crown shape on the coin’s flag that distinguishes the flag of Northern Ireland from that of England.
If you’re lucky enough to come across this coin in your change, you won’t struggle to find a collector who is willing to buy it. The Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games £2 coin easily fetches up to £40 when sold on eBay with some particularly high-quality versions selling for £50. This is a result of having the smallest mintage figure of any modern £2 coin making the coin highly sought after for many avid collectors.
2002 Commonwealth Games £2 Coins for Wales, England, and Scotland
2002 Scotland Commonwealth Games £2 Coin Mintage = 771,750, Estimated Value = £10
In joint second are the 2002 Commonwealth Games £2 coins for Wales, England, and Scotland. These coins each have an identical design to the Northern Ireland version of the coin other than the flag that is highlighted behind the running athlete, which changes for each respective country.
Different from the Olympic Games, the four Home Nations of the United Kingdom each send separate teams to the Commonwealth Games resulting in the four different coin designs that were released. It is unknown why the mintage figures vary so drastically for each of the countries, as there appears to be no correlation to the relative population of each country.
The value of each of these coins differs according to the mintage figures, with the Wales version of the coin fetching up to £15, the English version selling for around £12, and the Scottish version selling for up to £10. Despite the varying mintage figures, each version of the coin is still highly sought after and they remain some of the lowest minted £2 coins in history.
2015 First World War Centenary Royal Navy £2 Coin
Mintage = 650,000
Estimated Value = £7
The 2015 First World War Centenary Royal Navy £2 Coin marks one of the most important times in British history and is also one of the rarest £2 coins to have been minted. The coin is part of the Royal Mint’s commemoration of the First World War and focuses particularly on the efforts of the Royal Navy.
The reverse design, produced by David Rowlands, features one of the Royal Navy’s battleships facing out of the coin to symbolise the power held by the Royal Navy during the war. The text surrounding the coin’s reverse design reads ‘THE FIRST WORLD WAR 1914-1918’ and the edge inscription reads ‘THE SURE SHIELD OF BRITAIN’ as a reminder of the essential role the Royal Navy plays in keeping the British Isles safe.
A combination of the patriotic design and low mintage figures has led to the coin is a highly sought-after collectable. Versions of the coin that are in excellent condition fetch around £7 on eBay and are quickly snapped up by avid collectors.
There is some speculation surrounding this coin as to whether there is a second version of the coin that features a flag flying from the top of the ship’s mast. This is actually the result of a cracked die that caused pools of metal to form on the coins whilst striking that coincidently resemble the shape of a flag. These error coins have shown to be very desirable amongst collectors and have regularly sold for as much as £20.
2012 Olympic Games Handover to Rio £2 Coin
Mintage = 845,000
Estimated Value = £10
As the last of the Royal Mint’s London 2012 Coin Programme, the 2012 Olympic Games Handover to Rio £2 Coin is one of the hardest to find coins in circulation. The coin marked the end of the hugely successful London 2012 Olympic Games and represented the anticipation towards the next Olympics, to be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
The reverse design was created by Jonathan Olliffe, a returning artist for the Royal Mint who also designed the Aquatics 50p coin for the 2012 Olympic collection. The design is a literal interpretation of ‘the passing of the baton’ from the UK to Brazil, a fitting image that also represents one of the most-watched sporting events within the Olympics – the relay race. The flags of the UK and Brazil can be seen twisting together across the centre of the coin, with the inscription ‘LONDON 2012’ across the top and ‘RIO 2016’ across the bottom.
The edge inscription reads ‘I CALL UPON THE YOUTH OF THE WORLD’, a message intended to inspire the next generation of athletes that perfectly encompasses the spirit of the Olympic Games.
The London 2012 Olympic Games is one of the most memorable British events to have happened in recent history. As a result, the entire Olympic collection by the Royal Mint has become highly collectable with many people wanting a piece of British history. High-quality examples of the coin regularly sell for around £10 on eBay despite having a higher mintage figure than the previously mentioned coins.
2008 London Olympic Games of 1908 £2 Coin
Mintage = 910,000
Estimated Value = £5.89
Continuing with the Olympic theme, the final of our rare £2 coins is the 2008 London Olympic Games of 1908 £2 coin. The coin marks 100 years since the first time the Olympic Games were held in London in 1908, at a purpose-built stadium in White City.
The much-loved sporting event was originally intended to take place in Rome in 1908. Unfortunately, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius meant that the money was needed to rebuild the city and so the Olympics were moved to London, giving the UK their first opportunity to host. Since then, the Olympics have gone on to be held in the UK a total of three times, second to only the US.
The reverse design of the coin, by Thomas T Docherty, is of an athletic racetrack with each of the digits of ‘1908’ in separate lanes at the starting position. Track events have remained some of the most anticipated events of the Olympic Games since its beginning, making the design a perfect commemoration of the centenary. The edge inscription of the coin reads ‘THE 4TH OLYMPIAD LONDON’ as the 1908 games were only the fourth ever Olympics to have happened since their start in 1896.
Despite having a mintage figure of close to a million, good quality versions of this coin sell for around £6 on eBay. In comparison to the other coins we’ve mentioned, listings seem to appear less frequently for this coin so if you’re lucky enough to find one you should be able to sell it with ease.
Amongst the many commemorative £2 coins that have been released are a few that are guaranteed to make you a profit thanks to their rarity. If you’re lucky enough to come across one of the coins we’ve mentioned, it could be the perfect reason to start a collection of your own.
If you have any questions about the coins mentioned in this article, don’t hesitate to contact us here.