The £2 coins in base metal (as opposed to the gold double sovereign, which has a nominal face value of one pound too), nickel-brass, were introduced in 1986. They were modelled on the gold issues, having the same weight and diameter, although thicker - since gold is heavier than base metal. It is not uncommon for people to think they have found a gold coin in their change; however, a true gold coin would be struck in a proof finish and would have a more coppery colour.
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 metals versions (nickel-brass, silver and gold). Due to their low mintage, these coins are collected and kept by the public and do not circulate in any realistic manner.
To celebrate the Tercentenary (300th anniversary) of the Declaration of Rights in 1689, two different 2-pound coins were issued in 1989. The two coins differ only in the detail of their reverse designs. Both were designed by John Lobban, and depict the cypher of William and Mary, the House of Commons mace, and stylised representations of St. Edward's Crown and the Crown of Scotland, respectively.
This (the Scottish) version has the inscription TERCENTENARY OF THE CLAIM OF RIGHT, while the English version reads TERCENTENARY OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS. Uncharacteristically for British coins, the date is on the reverse, while the value and denomination are on the obverse.
After 1996, the bi-metallic Technology type £2 coin was issued, and all later £2 coins have been bi-metallic. Even though this coin type was superseded by the modern bi-metallic format, these coins are still legal tender.
Crowned bust of Queen Elizabeth II wearing a pearl necklace, facing right (effigy known as the "Third Portrait"); incuse in tiny letters on neck truncation, the designer's initials RDM (for Raphael David Maklouf).
Around, the monarch's legend: ELIZABETH · II · DEI · GRATIA · REGINA · F · D · TWO POUNDS. Translated from Latin: Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen, Defender of the Faith.
Note that the value and denomination are on the obverse.
At centre, Royal Cypher of "W&M" (interlaced letters W and M representing King William III and Queen Mary II) surmounting a horizontal Parliamentary Mace; above, a representation of the Scottish Crown; below, the intertwined dates 1689 and 1989.
Around, the inscription TERCENTENARY OF THE CLAIM OF RIGHT.
On 13th February 1689, Prince William and Princess Mary of Orange were presented with a document by the Lords and Commons that marked a major change in the course of British parliamentary history. The document stemmed from the revolutionary events of 1688 which influenced the social, economic, and political development of democratic countries around the world.
Known as the Declaration of Rights, this document sought to prevent a repetition of the abuses of In Scotland, William and Mary were recognised as King and Queen by the Convention of Estates on 11th April 1689. This Convention adopted a Claim of Right which largely corresponds to the Bill of Rights in England.
The effects of the Bill of Rights and Claim of Right - free and regular elections, freedom of speech in Parliament, the proper distribution of governmental power, and protection of the rights of subjects and citizens - can be seen today in the way in which parliamentary government is conducted in the United Kingdom and in other countries around the world.
The ceremonial mace shown on the reverse evolved from the close-combat weaponry of the mounted knight. As maces grew more ornamental in design, they gradually became a symbol of prestige and, by the later middle ages, the use of a mace as an emblem of office was widespread in England.
The present House of Commons mace, originally made in 1660 and ornately decorated with the Royal Arms, is symbolic of the authority of Parliament.