The 2p Newpence Rumour

It won't go away

The 2p rumour is still doing the rounds. A man telephoned the other day (January 2005) asking what I would offer for a few 'Extremely rare' 1970's Twopences with 'New Pence' on the back. For some reason I found myself actually being polite to him, and I turned him down fairly gently and then revealed the truth. Updating this now in 2015, I still get the odd call about them!

For those of you that are still not aware, I'm likely to turn nasty soon, so please read what I wrote on the subject back in June 2003:

I have been getting quite a number of enquiries regarding British two pence pieces (2 pees). It seems on Thursday 26th of June 2003 and then again on Thursday 6th November 2003, a Television Programme (Trading Treasures, BBC1 late morning/lunch time viewing) stated that certain Two Pence coins with the words 'New Pence' on the reverse are valuable.

To save more people writing in to ask me if the coins they have in their pockets are worth in excess of £300.00 and not the face value 2p, please let me put things straight...

The British 2p was introduced at decimalisation in 1971. Because all the coins were new the Royal mint put the words 'New Pence' on the coins. The coins remained with this wording until (and including) 1981. The back of all Two pence pieces dated between 1971 and 1981 will look like this:

In 1982 the Royal mint decided that the Two pence piece was not really that new anymore and replaced the word 'New' with the word 'Two'. They also did this with the other denominations that were introduced in 1971, the 'New Penny' became 'One Penny', and so on... So now from 1982 to now the back of the Two pence coin looks like this:

Without any exceptions all of the 1982 coins had 'Two Pence' on the back. However, and this is where the confusion comes from, in some years of the early 80's no Two pence coins were issued for general circulation and the 637,100 1983 dated coins that were produced all went into special sets containing one of each coin from that year. In a few of those sets the 2p coin was struck with the older ('New Pence' type) reverse by mistake and is indeed very rare.

The 1983 2p Coin with 'New Pence' on the reverse is the only rare coin, all of the others are very common and were struck in very high numbers.

From 1984 to 2003 all of the coins without exception have the 'Two Pence' reverse like they should.

So far, from the emails I have received I can now account for quite a few of the extremely rare 2p's! One chap even told me he had found 6! Now as far as I can work out the odds of finding just one of the rare 1983 2p's are 1 in over 14,000,000 going by the mintage numbers alone, the fact that all the 1983 coins went into sets, not circulation, decreases those odds even further! So to find 6 in your copper jar should be a one in 6,300,000,000 chance (six thousand, three hundred million (or 6.3 billion if you prefer counting the incorrect American way)). Now my maths is a little rusty, so please correct me if I'm wrong.

How can this be? Has a powerful wave of hope, misunderstanding, the ability to pay 6 months of mortgage repayments for 12p, the inability to find this page on my site (which has been linked from the front page since June 2003!) and perhaps just a little ignorance created a buzz across the nation?

A buzz so powerful, and resonating at just the right frequency that it was capable of changing the structure of solid bronze, turning millions of normal 2p's into 1983 2p's with New Pence written on them? No! Hope, no doubt has played a part in causing hundreds of people to email me and offer me their twopeneth worth, but the fact this programme seems to have been mis-understood by so many has now prompted me to contact the BBC to get a copy of it, watch it and find out if it does give a wrong impression, and why it was repeated again 4 months after its first showing!

In an attempt to make people aware of how common 99.999% of two pence coins are, here are the mintage numbers and values of all 2 pence coins from 1971 until 1989:

DateMintage NumberValue
19711,454,856,25010p if perfect with full lustre
1972In Proof set only, not circulatedProof £2.00
1973In Proof set only, not circulatedProof £2.00
1974In Proof set only, not circulatedProof £2.00
1975145,545,00020p if perfect with full lustre
1976181,379,00020p if perfect with full lustre
1977109,261,00010p if perfect with full lustre
1978189,658,00030p if perfect with full lustre
1979260,200,00015p if perfect with full lustre
1980408,527,00015p if perfect with full lustre
1981353,191,00015p if perfect with full lustre
1982205,000 In sets only£1.00 if perfect with full lustre
1983637,100 In sets only£1.00 if perfect with full lustre
1983With wrong 'New Pence' reverse. In sets only and apparently around Approx 450 minted (although there is no accurate figure).£400.00+ if perfect with full lustre
1984158,820 In sets only£1.00 if perfect with full lustre
1985107,113,000No value listed (so 10p or less if perfect)
1986168,967,500No value listed (so 10p or less if perfect)
1987218,100,750No value listed (so 10p or less if perfect)
1988419,889,000No value listed (so 10p or less if perfect)
1989292,093,000No value listed (so 10p or less if perfect)

Info: Proof coins are specially struck using different techniques to normal coins and as a result have a mirror like appearance and are usually only produced for year sets.

Lustre is the 'shine' you get on coins when new. It gradually fades from handling and cannot be brought back even with polishing (and you should never polish coins)

Sources: Mintage numbers and values from Collectors Coins Great Britain published by Rotographic (available on this website). BBC Television programme details from Mrs V Broom.

Has this been useful? If so, please put a comment in the Forum.

Chris Perkins, 30th June 2003. Updated January 2005, December 2005 and 28th July 2015.

Read about predecimal denominations.
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