The British Museum's collections, £16.99
Diameter: 28.000 mm
Gift of the Royal Mint
Coins and Medals
Bimetallic £2 coin
Great Britain, AD 1997
'If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants'
The first British coin made of two different coloured metals was put into circulation in 1997. £2 coins had been issued before then, but they were for commemorative purposes only. In the late 1990s it was considered necessary to have a circulating high denomination coin, and the £2 coin was the result.
The size of the coin was decided following discussions with a variety of users, including visually impaired and elderly people, banks and retailers. Coins are used in significant amounts in vending machines, so the producers of these machines also advised on the best weight and metallic constitution for the new coin.
The design of the reverse (back) of the coin, by Bruce Rushin, reflects different stages of technological development. It carries abstract symbols representing the Iron Age, the Industrial Revolution, the Electronic Age and the Internet. The legend on the edge of the coin reads: STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS, after Isaac Newton (1642-1727), who wrote in a letter to his colleague Robert Hooke dated 5 February 1676, 'If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants', thereby recognizing his debt to earlier scientists.