The United Kingdom 2p coin was one of three new coins introduced into general circulation on the 15 February 1971 when the United Kingdom adopted a new decimal currency system. The other two new coins were the 1/2p and 1p coins (5p, 10p and 50p had been introduced earlier).
To avoid confusion between the old and new coinage all three coins initially had the word "NEW" incorporated into the reverse design; this was later removed.
The two pence coin is currently the second lowest circulating denomination of the British (decimal) Pound Sterling, after the half penny was demonetised in 1984.
The first copper-plated steel 2p coins were struck in September 1992, replacing the earlier bronze 2p. The reason for this change was the increase in the price of metals on the world markets. The coins have a mild steel core and are electroplated with copper - consequently they are magnetic. Coins issued subsequently have been made in steel, with the exception of 1998 when 2p coins were issued in both alloys.
They retained the original design by Christopher Ironside until the introduction of the new 2p by Matthew Dent in 2008. The original coins are still current though, and circulate in parallel with the new ones. Coins issued in 1996 have now been circulating for 23 years.
One penny and two pence coins are legal tender only up to the sum of 20p; this means that it is permissible to refuse payment of sums greater than this amount in 1p and 2p coins in order to settle a debt.