The Royal Mint have revealed the new design for the currently circulating £2 coin which will replace the current technical / mechanical motif first introduced in 1997 and designed by Bruce Rushin with the issue of the UK’s first two pound coin for general circulation. The new design sees a return of the mythical figure of “Britannia” since her image was removed from definitive circulation coinage in 2008. Britannia was last seen on the 50 pence denomination when seven denominations from the penny up to the pound coin were replaced with the “Royal shield of arms design” which incorporated a portion of the Royal Crest on six denominations with the entirety of the shield depicted on the £1 coin. Enduring and popular, the image of Britannia in one form or another has appeared on the reverse of coins since the reign of Charles II in 1672.
This new design revealed today is the work of Antony Dufort, an artist who has worked in a variety of disciplines, including portraiture, book illustration, film production and sculpture. The new Britannia £2 coins will begin to enter circulation at some stage during 2015, the same year that the definitive coinage portrait of The Queen will be replaced for the first time since 1998, these coins will carry the new portrait, to be unveiled on the 2nd March.
|2 Pounds||Bi-metallic||12 grams||28.4 mm.||BU||unlimited|
|2 Pounds||.925 Silver||12 grams||28.4 mm.||Proof||10,500 pieces|
|2 Pounds||.925 Silver||24 grams||28.4 mm.||Proof Piedfort||2000 pieces|
|2 Pounds||.917 gold||15.97||28.4 mm.||Proof||1000 pieces|
The precious metal and select BU examples are now available directly from the Royal Mint – For more information on this and other coins on offer from the Royal Mint, please visit their website. Information offered in English, international orders dispatched.
Britannia on British coins through the ages – Courtesy of the Royal Mint
The Four Seas: Pattern Farthing, 1665
Britannia does not appear on British coins until 1672, though pattern pieces dated 1665 exist depicting Britannia with the Latin inscription meaning ‘I claim the four seas’. While the inscription was intended to show the king’s pride and interest in the navy, it was dropped from the official coinage, perhaps to avoid the displeasure of Louis XIV of France. The burning of the English fleet on the River Thames in 1667 also rendered the boast a little empty.
Mrs Stewart’s Face: Halfpenny, 1672
It has long been rumoured that the figure of Britannia which appears on copper coins in 1672 was really that of Frances Stewart, later Duchess of Richmond, who famously spurned the advances of Charles II. The story originates from Samuel Pepys’ comments in his diary regarding the Treaty of Breda medal, from which the coinage likeness of Britannia was taken:
“At my goldsmith’s did observe the King’s new medal where in little there is Mrs Stewart’s face as well done as ever I saw anything in my whole life”.
Maritime Britannia: Two Pence, 1797
The first truly nautical version of Britannia appeared in 1797 when Matthew Boulton’s mint in Birmingham began producing copper two pence and one penny pieces. She now holds a trident instead of a spear, set against the backdrop of the sea, on which there is a three-masted sailing ship. The move to a more nautical version of Britannia is a clear response to the much needed naval victories of the 1790s.
Britannia in Silver: Groat, 1836
In 1836, Britannia appeared for the first time on British silver coins when the groat, or fourpence, was reintroduced to the coinage. It was nicknamed the ‘Joey’ after Joseph Hume, Member of Parliament for Middlesex, who was thought to have been primarily responsible for its reintroduction, in order to simplify the payment of cab drivers, as the Hackney fare for a half-mile in London cost fourpence.
Ship and Lighthouse: Penny, 1860
From 1860, two popular features associated with the Britannia design on the penny are the ship and the lighthouse. Both were removed in 1895 when the reverse of the penny was remodeled to make Britannia rather larger, a decision which would prove to be controversial with the public and attract a degree of unfavorable comment including ridicule in the magazine Punch.
Britannia Standing: Florin, 1902
For the new florins of Edward VII, issued in 1902, the talented Royal Mint engraver George William De Saulles produced an unusual design of Britannia standing on the prow of a warship. The purpose of the design, apart from its pleasing aesthetic appearance, was to make the florin more distinctive from the half-crown, which it closely resembled in size and weight.
Lighthouse Restored: Penny, 1937
With the death of George V and the accession of Edward VIII, an opportunity arose to consider the restoration of the lighthouse and the ship in the background behind Britannia. Although the lighthouse was once again successfully added to the design, trials showed that there was insufficient space to include the ship.
Britannia Saved: Fifty Pence, 1969
The figure of Britannia was so popular with the public that the decision in the 1960s not to include her on the new decimal coins created an outcry. Such was the strength of feeling that she was subsequently placed on the new fifty pence piece which was first issued in 1969.
Britannia’s Renaissance: The Definitive Britannia 2015 United Kingdom £2 Brilliant Uncirculated Coin
As commented by Antony Dufort: “Britannia has been presented with such a variety of symbolic elements, I looked to Greek and Roman coins and statues to ensure authenticity while modelling her trident and Corinthian helmet. The works I have enjoyed creating most are those for the public. They feel like they have a real value. My coin design fills me with a similar sense of pride as these coins will be used by the public.”