Coins of England and Great Britain

('Coins of the UK')

by Tony Clayton

Double Sovereign and Two Guineas

30s <<-- : -->> 50s and 60s

Values of Two Pounds and Two Guineas
Pictures of Two Pounds and Two Guineas

Double Sovereign

A unique double sovereign of Henry VII is known where the sovereign dies were used but the flan is twice the normal thickness. It is probable that it was specially minted as a presentation piece.

Two Guineas

As for the five guinea and one guinea coins, this was originally valued at two pounds, but it varied as the price of gold fluctuated, until the guinea was fixed at 21 shillings in 1717. It must be remembered that at the time gold coin from a variety of sources was used and weighed to determine value according to the current gold price.

There are a wide range of issues from 1664 in the reign of Charles II through to 1714 in the reign of Queen Anne, after which its value was fixed at 42 rather than the original 40 shillings.

Designs closely followed those of the five guineas. For Charles II the first bust terminated in a point with a lock of hair in front, and was used from 1664 to 1671. From 1675 the second bust was used, with a rounded termination and no lock of hair to the front. The scarce dates for Charles II two guineas are 1665 (thought to be unique), 1669 (very rare), and 1678 with an elephant below the head (not to be confused with the relatively common 1678 with elephant and castle).

Only two dates, 1687 and 1688, were issued in the reign of James II. It is possible that all those dated 1688 are in fact 1688 over 7.

The reverse design changed to a shield during the reign of William & Mary. The first issue, 1691 elephant & castle, is rare. The coin was also issued in 1693 and 1694, with and without an elephant and castle below the king's head.

The two guineas was only issued in 1701 during the sole reign of William III, with the reverse reverting to the cruciform shields design of James II.

There is no VIGO piece in this denomination for Queen Anne, and all issues date after the Union, so there is only a single type issued in 1709, 1711, 1713 and 1714.

Once the value of the two guinea piece was fixed at 42 shillings in 1717, very few further issues were made.

Dates of later coins are as follows:

George I: 1717, 1720 (scarce), 1726
George II: First (young) head: 1734-35, 1738-1739
Second (intermediate) head: 1739-1740
Third (old) head: 1748 and 1753.

Beware of modern forgeries of the George II coins, especially 1738, 1739, and 1748.

From 1739 the edge was made with a chevron pattern rather than the normal diagonal milling of the time, as there was a gang of filers in action. There is also a pattern George II two guineas dated 1733.

No two guinea pieces were minted after 1753.

I am grateful to Spink for allowing me to use the images accessed through the above links.

Two Pounds (Double Sovereign)

Unlike the five pound coin, the gold two pound was issued in 1823 as a currency piece. However, it never reached widespread circulation as such. The two pound gold coin weighs 16 g and has a diameter of 28 mm.

Issues in gold were as follows:

George IV: 1823 (proofs of 1825 and 1826 exist)

William IV: 1831 (proof only)

Victoria: 1887, 1893 (proofs exist for both years. A very rare Sydney Mint proof of 1887 exists)

Edward VII: 1902 (also matt proof and very rare Sydney Mint matt proof)

George V: 1911 proof

Edward VIII: a very rare 1937 pattern is known.

George VI: 1937 proof. This coin has a plain edge instead of the usual milled edge.

Elizabeth II: 1953 proof (exceedingly rare), 1980, 1982-83, 1985-date (all proof)

The nickel-brass issues of 1986, 1994 and 1995 were minted in gold as well, supplanting the normal George & dragon types for those years.

For information on the nickel-brass and bimetallic Two Pound coins see the Decimal Coin section.


See my Main Coins Index page for acknowledgements


30s <<-- : -->> 50s and 60s
Main Index
Base-metal Two Pound coins
Values Index
Values of Two Guinea and Two Pound coins.
Values of Decimal Two Pound coins.
Pictures of Two Guineas and Double Sovereigns
Pictures Index

Help and Advice

Coins of UK - Two Pounds
Copyright reserved by the author, Tony Clayton
v24 24th March 2015
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