About This Design
Over 200 years have passed since the guinea was last struck but the romance of the coin endures. Steeped in mystique, from its fabled one pound and one shilling value to its association with gentleman, gentility and good taste, the guinea was the principal gold coin of Britain for centuries. In 2013, for the first time ever, we celebrated one coin with another: the 2013 ‘Anniversary of the Golden Guinea’ £2 coin.
The inscription ‘Anniversary of the Golden Guinea’ surrounds the reverse design of this £2 coin by sculptor Anthony Smith, who has recreated one of the most famous guinea designs: a shield with the arms of George III, known as the Spade Guinea. It was nicknamed for the shape of its shield that resembled the humble garden tool. The Spade Guinea became hugely popular, rumoured to be sought after by the country gentry and reproduced extensively as brass tokens many years later. The edge of the coin is finished with a tribute from contemporary writer, Stephen Kemble, ‘WHAT IS A GUINEA? ‘TIS A SPLENDID THING.’
History of the £2 Coin
The first base metal £2 coin was issued in the United Kingdom in 1986 to commemorate the Thirteenth Commonwealth Games which was held in Scotland. Commemorative £2 coins continued to be issued in single colour nickel-brass for special occasions. After a review of the United Kingdom’s coinage in 1994, it emerged that there was a requirement for a circulating £2 coin. A consultation process took place with the vending machine industry, members of the public and special interest groups such as the RNIB and Age Concern. The consensus of opinion from the consultation favoured a bicolour coin because it would be easily distinguishable from the other coins in circulation. The bimetallic £2 coin was launched on 15 June 1998 and millions were released into circulation.