Did 2015 produce a rare £2 coin?

With every year that passes the Coin Hunt continues to evolve, as new commemorative coin designs are released. In 2015 alone there were £2 coins to mark the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta and the Navy’s role in the First World War, a new Royal Arms design featured on the £1 coin and the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain was marked on a 50p.

The release of four new commemorative coin designs in a single year isn’t necessarily extraordinary in itself, but 2015 was a unique year for UK coinage. It proved to be a mini Coin Hunt in itself! It saw several changes that are definitely beyond our usual expectations. Britannia made her return to our circulating coins, replacing the Technology £2 as the definitive £2 coin, and the ‘heads’ side of UK coins also changed, with the introduction of the fifth and final portrait of Her Majesty The Queen. This all meant that there were 19 variants of 2015 coin designs that entered circulation!


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1066, the Battle of Hastings – the date that made history, remembered.

Cemented in the school curriculum, 1066 is a date that is sure to be familiar to most of us. In fact, due to the significance and impact of the Battle of Hastings, 1066 is arguably one of the most famous dates in British history. But how much do we actually know, or remember, about 1066 and the Battle of Hastings? With the 950th anniversary being marked this year and over five million Battle of Hastings 50p pieces expected to enter circulation, it’s sure to beg the question. So, on the eve on the anniversary, we’ve put the spotlight on ‘the date that made history‘.

battle of hastings 50p

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Discover: Fire! Fire! exhibition – Museum of London

The Great Fire of London changed the City forever, and now 350 years on from the fire we celebrate the City that rose from the ashes. To commemorate the anniversary, there have been numerous walks, talks, exhibitions and installations; a replica of 17th century London was even built and set on fire on the River Thames!

Everyday, The Museum of London  opens its doors and allows visitors to uncover stories from the past to the present day. This year, they also play a part in marking the anniversary of the Great Fire with their Fire! Fire! exhibition and recently, we took a trip to London to check it out for our first edition of our new ‘Discover’ blog series.

Fire! Fire! exhibition Museum of London

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Behind the design: The 2016 Army £2

In 1914, as Britain mobilised for war, the call went out to enlist. The response to Lord Kitchener’s call to arms was astonishing, with much of the whole country swept by patriotic fervour. Team mates, friends, neighbours and colleagues were encouraged to serve side-by-side in ‘Pals Battalions’, proudly defending their country; a recruitment tactic that, while highly successful in the short-term, would have devastating consequences for the communities from which the Pals Battalions were recruited.

In 2016 we continue our First World War centenary series  by honouring the British Army, focusing on the Pals Battalions and their fate at the Battle of the Somme, 100 years ago. The 2016 Army £2 coin was created by Tim Sharp, Creative Director at design agency Uniform, and we recently caught up with him to find out a little bit more about his design.

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Great Fire 350. From the walks, to the talks…

2016 marks 350 years since the Great Fire of London, a fire that swept across the city, lasting almost five days, causing total devastation. The fire, which began in a baker’s shop in Pudding Lane and raged across the capital before ending at Pie Corner, destroyed four fifths of the City all-in-all, including 13,000 buildings, 87 churches, three City gates and 52 livery halls. Though the Great Fire of London occurred more than three centuries ago, the story of this famous event in England’s history has lived on and this year we commemorate the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London on a UK £2 coin.

Fire of London small
The 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London commemorative £2 coin

We are not alone in our commemorations; a season of events has already begun with walks, talks and exhibitions, and there is even more in store this weekend! Having launched on 30 August, ‘London’s Burning’, a festival of arts and ideas said to “re-imagine the Great Fire of 1666 through the vision of contemporary artists, writers and thinkers” continues across the anniversary weekend. Here’s a little look into what’s going on in London to mark the event…

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Behind the design: Great Fire of London £2 coin

London in 1666 was very different to the city we know today. Wooden structures rather than soaring skyscrapers made up most of the homes and businesses in the capital, one of the main reasons why a small fire, which notoriously began in a bakery in Pudding Lane, went on to rage across the city. Can you imagine the sight; people fleeing the flames, leaving everything to the fire? Aaron West, a member of The Royal Mint’s design team, has taken the perspective of one of the Londoners seeking sanctuary on the Thames to capture the devastating scene.

The Royal Mint’s home at the time of the fire was at the Tower of London. As one of the few secure stone buildings in the city, it became a sanctuary for the displaced and the homeless. For a time, it was also a safehold for many of the city’s valuables, as people and businesses were allowed to store their assets within its walls. As the fire drew nearer, people became fearful that the Tower’s stores of gunpowder would explode and so these were removed by Sir John Robinson, the Tower’s Lieutenant. As the flames made steady progress through the city, action to save the building had to be taken. The goldsmith’s treasures were removed from the Tower and controlled explosions were made that brought down buildings in the path of the fire, starving it of fuel and saving the Tower from the flames.

This year we join many others in remembering the fire that changed London forever, with the 350th anniversary marked on a £2 coin. Ahead of the anniversary this weekend, we caught up with Aaron West, designer of the 2016 Great Fire of London £2, to find out a little more about his design…

Aaron West sketching

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Behind the design: The 2016 Beatrix Potter Series by Emma Noble

Throughout 2016, The Royal Mint has been celebrating the wonderful world of Beatrix and her most-loved characters, marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of Beatrix Potter. Earlier this year, we announced that we would be marking the 150th Anniversary of the birth of Beatrix Potter with a series of five coins, the first time that characters from children’s literature has appeared on UK coinage! The series began with a coin that honoured Beatrix herself, and continued with four of Beatrix’s characters, Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle-Duck, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and Squirrel Nutkin.

It was the task of Royal Mint coin designer and engraver, Emma Noble to bring the coin designs to life. While the coins are available in the plain-metal circulating and Brilliant Uncirculated versions, they are also available in colour-printed Silver Proof versions, which allows for a new perspective. Emma has made sure that Beatrix’s characters are instantly recognisable, with every whisker, spine or feature captured in fine detail, while the colour printing allows the designs to reflect the style of the original, much-loved illustrations.

Earlier this year we caught up with Linda Lear, a member of the Beatrix Potter Society, to tell us a little more about the lady behind the tales in our ‘Who was Beatrix Potter‘ blog. Today we’ve been speaking with the lady behind the coin designs, Emma Noble, to find out more about how she brought the characters from the cherished little tales to life in a series of coins.


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