The Uncommon Commonwealth
[Commonwealth Games Set - image by Mik]
When the four Commonwealth Games two pound coins were released in 2002, none of us expected them to be quite so amazingly sought-after. With a mintage of 771,750, Scotland was the least scarce of these whilst Northern Ireland suddenly becoming the rarest two pound coin of all. Seventeen years on and no other coin in this denomination has yet to beat it’s super low ranking of 485,500.
Needless to say, the four Commonwealth coins have rocketed in price since 2002 and are now at the top of virtually every coin hunter’s list. At the time of writing, if you want to net yourself a Northern Ireland then you will normally have to pay at least forty pounds; find one for any less and you have been pretty darn lucky.
To the uninitiated, these four coins may appear extremely similar, but the secret of course lies in the flags. And to understand this fully you will need to study each of them for yourself. Wales and Scotland are easily identifiable by their symbols, but England and Northern Ireland aren’t quite as straightforward.
Since minting standards will often vary slightly during the production of coins, some strikes are far clearer than others. So when it comes to a tiny emblem with only subtle differences to an equally weeny feature on a sister coin, possible identity issues are inevitable. The background of the Northern Ireland flag is essentially the same as that of the England coin. The difference is that The Red Hand of Ulster features in the centre of the former.
[Northern Ireland, England, Wales,, Scotland - image by Mik]
On average the Irish design will sell for at least double that of an English one - so it’s pretty essential to know your stuff. Some Northern Ireland two pound coins have such a weak minting impression on their flag, it is nigh-on impossible to see the miniscule hand and star without the aid of a magnifying glass. It is also worth noting that a few unscrupulous dealers have even gone to the effort of ‘modifying’ an England Commonwealth coin. This is another good reason to use a magnifying glass as a DIY Irish emblem is normally fairly easy to spot – thankfully.
Perhaps one day The Royal Mint will release another two pound coin with an even lower mintage than Northern Ireland. But at the moment it sits quite comfortably at the pinnacle of the scarcity index, the second rarest being it’s Welsh counterpart at 588,500. A few years back you may have been lucky enough to come across a Commonwealth coin in your change…. but the chances of this are now growing slimmer by the day.
All four of these coins are sure to gain even more value over time simply because there are so very few in circulation. This is precisely why so many people are now hell-bent on getting their own set before it’s too late. And you would be well advised to follow suit.
© Article and images (where stated) copyright Mik Smith 2019