1994 Bank of England Commemorative Gold Two Pounds
First a few brief notes about the base metal version of this coin.
1994 Two Pounds Coin
Nickel Brass Issues 1986 to 1996
Gold two pounds coins were re-introduced in 1980 for sale to collectors.
The new nickel-brass issues which were produced from 1986 to 1996 were modelled on the previous gold issues, having the same weight and diameter, although thicker.
The entire series of seven different designs in five different years were all commemorative coins, produced largely to appeal to collectors. All are available in different version.
Commemoratives or Consumer Testing?
Although the Royal Mint has stated that the 1997 bi-metal two pounds were the first intended for circulation, ordinary circulation types were released for all seven nickel-brass designs. It is our theory that they were introduced to test public opinion about their popularity, and the practicality of introducing a two pounds denomination for circulation. They were clearly not popular as a circulating coin, being too heavy at a time when most coin denominations were being shrunk. It appears to be part of human nature to resist change, so it was somewhat predictable that the new £2 would not be universally acclaimed. When the smaller five, ten, and fifty pence coins were introduced, they met with criticism as being too small, but the general feeling is that most people would not like to revert to the older heavier designs. In 1997 a new, lighter weight bi-metallic two pound coin was introduced as a circulating coin. Only five of the seven nickel brass series of two pounds were also made available in a gold proof version.
Bank of England 1994 Two Pounds Coin
To celebrate the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Bank of England, commemorative two pound coins were issued in 1994.
It is appropriate that the tercentenary of the Bank of England should be celebrated on the coinage, linking two great institutions both intimately connected with the nation's currency. The obverse of the new commemorative coin bears Raphael Maklouf's acclaimed portrait of the Queen while the new reverse design, created by Leslie Durbin, reflects the period in which the Bank was founded, bearing the Bank's original corporate seal, the crown and cypher of William and Mary and the words Bank of England in familiar script. The motto of William Paterson, "sic vos non vobis", "thus we labour but not for ourselves", forms the edge inscription.
The Bank of England
During the first half of the seventeenth century, banking in England was mainly in the hands of the goldsmiths who in the course of business made extensive loans to the Crown. But in 1672 the suspension of payments by Charles II brought about a wave of bankruptcies and the call for a public bank. It was the young Scottish financier William Paterson who, backed by a powerful City group, proposed the loan of over one million pounds to a Government which by then had become increasingly desperate for funds to continue the costly war against France. In return the subscribers would be incorporated as the Governor and Company of the Bank of England. It was a venture supported by William III and the money was raised in less than two weeks.
The charter was sealed on 27th July 1694 at Powis House, Lincoln's Inn Fields. The Bank opened for business a few days later in temporary accommodation at the Mercer's Hall in Cheapside and the first notes to bear the name Bank of England appeared shortly afterwards. Later that same year the Bank moved to Grocer's Hall in Old Jewry.
Not until June 1734 were new offices built in Threadneedle Street on an estate formerly the home of Sir John Houblon, a prominent City merchant of Huguenot origin and the Bank's first Governor.
During its first century the Bank developed essentially as a Government bank, seeing off its competitors and effectively managing the entire national debt. By 1737, the Daily Gazeteer could quite rightly say, that "this very flourishing and opulent company have upon every emergency cheerfully and readily supplied the necessities of the nation... and it may very truly be said... relieved this nation out of the greatest difficulties, if not absolutely saved it from ruin".
From 1793 to 1815 Britain was almost continuously at war with France and the Bank played an important role in financing the war effort. But the enormous drain on its gold reserves was such that in 1979 the Bank was forced to restrict the redemption of its notes in gold. To meet the drastic shortage of coin during this Restriction Period, the Bank circulated Spanish silver dollars which had been countermarked with the head of George III and, as a wartime emergency, issued £1 and £2 notes for the first time. Government critics though decried the new paper credit, and the playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan, in a speech attacking Pitt's financial methods may have given the Bank its famous soubriquet when in the House of Commons he spoke of the Bank as "an elderly lady in the City of great credit and long standing who has... unfortunately fallen into bad company". But it had made the financing of the war possible and the directors were confident that they had acted "with a degree of liberality and attention to the publick advantage".
As part of the coinage reform that followed the Napoleonic Wars, gold sovereigns, £1 in value, took the place of the £1 and £2 notes. And it was not until the sovereign disappeared from circulation during the First World War that a £1 note again put in an appearance and circulated until recent times when it was again replaced by a £1 coin.
On 1st March 1946, after 250 years as a private institution, a new Royal Charter transferred the Bank to public ownership whereby the Governor and members of the Court of Directors are appointed by the Crown.
The Third Portrait
The obverse (head side) is the third major portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, designed by Ralph David Maklouf, FRSA.
It came into use in 1985 and continued until 1997 inclusive, a total of thirteen years.
One of the first decisions of the Court of Directors in 1694 was the choice of Britannia "looking on a bank of mony" as the Bank's corporate seal. By that time she had assumed her place on the coinage, having graced halfpennies and farthings for more than twenty years and she has been depicted on the coinage of every monarch since Charles II. She was not forgotten at the time of decimalisation when she was chosen to appear on the reverse of the new fifty pence coin, and in gold Philip Nathan's Britannia stands proudly on the reverse of the highest denomination coins in the realm. So potent a symbol is she and so inextricably linked with the coinage, that she has appeared on every printed banknote issued by the Bank of England. It is entirely fitting, therefore, that in the same guise as she appeared on the Bank's corporate seal she should hold sway on the reverse of the new commemorative £2 coin struck for the Bank's tercentenary.
"As Safe As The Bank Of England"
As early as 1699 Irish writer, John Toland, described the Bank as "esteem'd so sacred a repository" that even overseas merchants thought their treasure safer there than in their own country. Physical security, however, remained relatively lax until an attack on the Bank during the Gordon Riots of 1789 prompted the Government to provide an overnight military guard known as the Bank Picquet. The Picquet was normally provided by the Brigade of Guards who, virtually every evening, would march from Wellington or Chelsea Barracks in full dress uniform. It was a tangible and highly visible recognition of the importance that was attached to protecting what one officer described in 1800 as the "grand Depot of National Treasure". The Picquet was abolished in 1973 and replaced by the Bank's own security system.
The edge is milled and without inscription, on both gold versions, although the base metal and silver proofs are inscribed:-
SIC VOS NON VOBIS
Actual Gold Content (Grams)||14.63
Actual Gold Content (Troy Ounces)||0.4707
The mintage of 1,000 pieces shown above is the combined total of the
types issued, the "normal" gold proof issue and the rare "mule" error issue.
We believe that about 300 of the mules may exist.
Whatever the ratio between the two versions, both are rarer than they would otherwise have been.
Prices & Availability
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Rare Error Mule Version
The Royal Mint made an error during the production of these gold proof coins, and made a number using the wrong obverse die. The error seems to have been noticed only after a quantity of the coins had been despatched. The balance of the issue was produced with the original correct obverse die.
This is such an important and unusual error that we have given it its own page.
Fools Gold Two Pound Coins on eBay
We see many of these and other two pounds on eBay described as gold, or not described, but using our photographs of gold proof coins, presumably with the dishonest intention of misleading potential buyers into thinking they can buy a real gold coin cheap. eBay buyers should exercise caution. If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably isn't.
You may wish to use our order form.
Postage & Packing
UK Registered Post (Special Delivery) £9 per order
EU Insured Post £10 per order
USA Airmail $10,
Insured Shipping $20
Canada Airmail $15,
Insured Shipping via Fedex $60
Obverse of Normal 1994 Bank of England £2 Gold Proof
Two Pounds Index
Other Gold Two Pounds for Sale
Thistle on Reverse of 1994 Bank of England £2 Gold Proof
Two Pounds Information