Rare 50p Battle of Hastings Coin

We all know the battle of Hastings took place in 1066 and altered the course of British history forever, however, it might seem a rather odd anniversary to commemorate ie. 950 years but I guess the Royal Mint is taking every opportunity now to issue anything it can market! There were 8 different variants of the 50p coin struck in 2016 alone of which this is only one. I suppose this is both good and bad news for the amateur numismatist as on one hand it provides an obviously large range of relatively cheap coins to collect but for many people, finding all 8 varieties for the year may be quite difficult.

This coin is available in no less than 5 different varieties from the Royal Mint ranging in price from £10 for a Brilliant Uncirculated (BU) grade coin in cardboard packaging through to a gold proof version for £785! They even had the Mayors of Hastings and Battle along to the mint to see the first pieces struck.

Battle of Hastings rare 50p coin reverse
The reverse of the 50p coin marking 950 years since the Battle of Hastings.

The obverse, being a 2016 coin, features the bust of The Queen by Jody Clark alongside the denomination legend. The reverse, pictured above, features a design by the artist John Bergdahl based on the infamous depiction of King Harold in the Bayeux Tapestry. He sports, of course, the obligatory arrow in the eye. The reverse will certainly be obvious straight away to anyone who handles the coin in their daily life as it looks nothing like most of the UK 50 pence coins found in circulation.

I am certainly pleased to have come across this example though I must admit I am slightly annoyed that it is so ‘well travelled’ looking after only being in circulation a very short while – perhaps I will find a better example to keep next year – one of the joys of collecting coins for fun! I have found almost all of the 2016 50p coins now and will be posting about the others shortly (I still haven’t come across the Rio Olympic version – I assume this is quite a rare 50p although we won’t know for sure until the mintage figures are released next year.

As for the  specifications, nothing out of the ordinary at 27.3mm and 8g of cupronickel as per usual. There are rumours however that this is on course to oust the NHS commemorative 50p coin as the 5th rarest 50p coin ever!

The humble £2 coin

I thought we would look today at the regular issue version of the £2 coin which has recently become so famous for its commemorative cousins. This design is being replaced by the newer Britannia reverse coin from 2016 although I have not found any in circulation yet.

The current bimetallic £2 coin was introduced in June 1998  and replaced the generally uncirculated monometallic nickel-brass coins which had been minted intermittently since 1986 until 1996. Following inflation through the 1980s and early 1990s, it was felt that there was a need for a larger denomination coin than the pound coin introduced in 1983. The outcome of consultation with various interested parties such as the RNIB was a bimetallic coin which would be more easily identified by those with visual impairments.

2015 £2 coin
Obverse of the 2015 £2 coin

The outer ring is made from a nickel-brass alloy (76% copper, 4% nickel and 20% zinc) and the inner plate is a cupro-nickel alloy of 75% copper and 25% nickel) and the whole flan measures 28.4mm in diameter.

Although the coins were first released into circulation in June 1998 the Royal Mint started manufacturing them in 1997 but the planned introduction of the coin was delayed to allow vending machine operators to be ready. The release of both 1997 and 1998 versions at once is responsible for the widely held but entirely unwarranted belief that the Rafael Maklouf portrait (1997) of Her Majesty in which she is featured wearing a necklace was in some way a rare coin. The 1998 onwards portrait by Ian Rank-Broadley features no such necklace. However millions of each obverse design entered circulation meaning that the myth of “The Queen wearing a necklace £2 coin” as a rare coin is just that – a myth!

The reverse design of the coin is unchanged from 1997 to 2015 (from 2016 the standard £2 coins will feature Britannia in a design by Antony Dufort). The government held a public competition to design the reverse of the coin with an art teacher from Brudall, Norfolk submitting the winning design which symbolises in a series of concentric rings, the technological progress of man or perhaps the British Isles? The design begins with a device in the outer circle placed on the nickel-brass outer piece which represents the Iron Age and continues centripetally through the Industrial Revolution, the Computer Age and finally the Internet Age at the heart of the design. I think it is quite a pleasing design but I do find it perhaps a little too abstract!

The edge of the coin measures 2.5mm across and is milled with the inscription “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”. This quote from Sir Isaac Newton features in a letter the great man wrote in 1676 and demonstrates his humility and appreciation of his contemporary scientists. From 2016 on, the edge inscription will change however to the latin “QUATUOR MARIA VINDICO” reflecting Britain’s seafaring heritage.

It is estimated that there are over 400,000,000 £2 coins in circulation and the large majority are not the commemorative or collectable rare coins most widely reported on but the above ‘plain’ design which is anything but plain and is actually much more intricate than a lot of the rarest £2 coins out there.

Abolition of Slavery £2 coin

In this post, we look at the £2 coin marking 200 years since the abolition of the slave trade in the United Kingdom. I quite like this reverse design by David Gentleman (who also designed the 2004 Entente Cordial coin). The coin was released into circulation by the Royal Mint in  2008 but still crops up in pocket change fairly regularly.

Quite a common commemorative coin to find in change with 8,445,000 minted I have found a few since it was released in 2008. The background to the design is textured (the presentation pack issues were not textured and also features the initials of the designer) and although it is not that obvious in this scan picture, it does add to the look of the coin.

Two pound coin commemorating the abolition of the slave trade

The edge inscription on this issue reads “Am I not a man and a brother” –  a quote from eighteenth century English pottery magnate and abolitionist Josiah Wedgewood (whose grandson Charles Darwin is also remembered on a £2 coin). The obverse features the Ian Rank Broadley portrait of HM Elizabeth II.

Specifications: Bimetallic (Nickel Brass outer ring with Cupro-nickel inner) weighing 12g and measuring 2.5mm by 28.4mm. It may be worth checking these parameters if you are suspicious of a coin’s authenticity as there are known to be forgeries in circulation.

Two Pound Coin Charles Dickens

In this post we look at the two pound coin from 2012 commemorating the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens.

This coin is unusual in that it features a profile portrait of Dickens’ head made up from the names of his books on the reverse. This rather interesting image was designed by Matthew Dent (who also designed the new post 2008 reverses of the 1p – £1 coins and the commemorative WWF 50p coin reverse).

Charles Dickens £2 coin reverse
2012 Charles Dickens £2 Reverse

The obverse features the Ian Rank-Broadley portrait of Her Majesty and the edge inscription reads “Something will turn up” – a quotation from the character Mr Micawber in David Copperfield.

This is not a particularly rare coin (despite what you might read on some eBay listings) with over 8 million being minted and I have come across a few in my change (of which the above is one). For specifications visit the royal mint’s entry HERE. You will appreciate that this coin is very much a circulated example (I posted an article a few years ago about an almost uncirculated example I found) but to me sometimes this is actually more satisfying to have in your collection to a BU example that you dare not take out its packaging and has no history to it. Coins like these still have excellent levels of detail but carry with them an unknown history and are very satisfying to spot in circulation. Of course they are not worth as much to sell but that’s not really the point of collecting is it!

Charles Dickens in B&Q

Yep, the title says it all! I found a Charles Darwin 2012 £2 coin in my change in B&Q yesterday and I must say, its is in spectacular condition – I’m not one for over-grading coins, but it is hard to find a flaw on this one even under magnification. I don’t collect these coins as a primary collection, but can I recommend savouring the beautiful artwork on some of the modern £2 bimetallic coins and slipping them into a little wallet in a drawer.

The pound coin collection has to be the best way to collect an affordable and easily accomplished set of coins. For £30, one can save the whole history (1 per year) and if you want, break it down into very easily spent change! It allows for an addition in the form of collecting the various alternate designs of the latter coins. A very amateur collection for the inquisitive potential coin collector!

Lord Kitchener 2014 coin

Possibly the most striking of the new 2014 collection from the Royal Mint is the £2 coin featuring Field Marshall Lord Kitchener. The design is draws inspiration from the iconic “Lord Kitchener wants You” poster that encouraged huge numbers of Britain’s young men to join the “New Army”.

Lord Kitchener £2 coin reverse

 I, for one, am looking forward to owning one of these dramatic coins!

A good week!

It’s been a good week! On Wednesday, I found, in good circulated condition £2 coins of both the ‘Mary Rose’ and the London Olympic Handover! Yesterday, 87 lucky and I’m sure deserving pensioners received the silver Maundy coins from Her Majesty the Queen!

£2 coin Olympic Handover

London tube train £2 coins

The new £2 commemorative coins featuring the London underground designs have been available in limited numbers in change to lucky travellers on the tube for about a month now but so far I haven’t noticed any this far north!!

I have to say from the Royal Mint photos (below) they are certainly on my desire list!

Designed by Edwina Ellis
Designed by Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby

They are definitely more striking than the other 2013 edition of the £2 coin which commemorates the 350th anniversary of Charles II’s first guinea coin. The three coins nicely contrast each other though – the underground editions are much more contemporary in appearance while it would be hard to make a grander looking edition than the photo on the Royal Mint website (below) of the Guinea edition

Designed by Anthony Smith

Consequently, I expect the former two coins will be rapidly taken out of circulation by amateur collectors while the Guinea coin might be less immediately obvious to the novice as it is far less distinctive. I’m certainly planning on collecting the set of 3 though and I think this would be a neat little collection for other amateur collectors to gather from circulation.