2p Tales

Two Pence - 650In 2019, cash was used in less than 30% of transactions, half of what it was just a decade ago. The decline in cash payments has been expected to fall to 10% by 2028, but the National Audit Office believes that COVID-19 may have hastened the process. With so many of us shopping online and being required to make contactless payments in the physical world, demand for cash plummeted by 71% between early March and mid-April.

While we can’t be sure of the future of cash, we do know one thing: our coins have an interesting history. Take the humble 2p piece for example. Did you know the following:

  • The 2p piece is as old as decimalisation itself. It was introduced on15 February 1971, the day our currency was decimalised and hundreds of years of previous everyday British currency was consigned to history
  • It had the word ‘new’ stamped on it until 1982
  • Although we call them coppers, for the past 28 years they’ve been made from steel with copper plating. Before that, they were minted in bronze (an alloy of 97% copper, tin and zinc)
  • Pre-1992 coins were once worth more than two pence. The rising cost of metal in 2006 meant that each 2p piece contained three pence of copper
  • The old bronze coins aren’t magnetic, the newer, post-1992 ones are
  • Over its long history, there has been four images of our Queen on the obverse of the coin
  • It has only ever had two reverse images. Originally, it was the badge of the Prince of Wales, which is a plume of ostrich feathers within a coronet, above the German motto Ich Dien ("I serve"). The current reverse, featuring a segment of the Royal Shield, was introduced in 2008. Click here to see how the 2p Royal Shield segment fits into the Royal Shield together with 1p, 5p, 10p, 20p and 50p.

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