In this case, the coin is not legal tender, at least not in the United States.
It’s not a “found” coin either. Instead, it was purchased for its silver content in a collection.
Normally, we think of proof coins as having a mirror-like finish in the field (background) of the coin and a frosted finish on the design.
If you remember, though, for the 20th anniversary of the Silver American Eagle dollar coin, the US Mint provided a collectible with a proof coin, a reverse proof coin and an uncirculated coin in the set. The 20th anniversary Silver American Eagle three-coin set remains a sought after collectible today.
As a reminder, let’s look at the obverse of the Silver American Eagle reverse proof dollar coin:
But, that’s not the coin that started this post.
Instead, let’s look at the two-pound Britannia coin purchased in a collection.
For the obverse, the image of Queen Elizabeth II shows in a mirror-like finish against a frosted field:
Around the design, the inscription states, “Elizabeth II D G REG FID DEF” and “2 Pounds.”
Not knowing British coinage or Latin, a simple internet search found that the inscription is a shortened version of “ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA FIDEI DEFENSOR,” which translates to mean “Elizabeth II, by the grace of God, Queen and Defender of the Faith.” Various abbreviated versions of that phrase can be found on the British coinage.
As for the reverse, it seems for quite a few years the two-pound Britannia included a standing version of the Britannia statue on the coins’ reverse in the even-numbered years, whereas the coins of the odd-numbered years had varying reverse designs.
For this 2004 coin, the reverse included a version of the Standing Britannia in a mirrored finish.
The reverse inscription states, “Britannia 2004 One Ounce Fine Silver.”
Now, this coin may not be legal tender in the United States, but Americans do collect them for their beauty and for their silver content.
Some people may also collect them for numismatic value. Unfortunately, this coin had been removed from its protective holder. It still looks nice and retains silver bullion value, but its collectible value has been reduced to any numismatists specializing in Britannia coins.
Interestingly though, the Silver Bullion website lists the population for the 2004 two-pound silver Britannia coin as 2,174 for the proof coin versions and 100,000 for the bullion (uncirculated) versions.
Could those population values make this coin worth more than silver even though its protective holder is gone?
In general, the two-pound silver Britannia coin competes with the Silver American Eagle dollar coin.
They both contain an ounce of silver. They both have uncirculated and proof versions of the coins. They both include iconic symbols of their respective homelands.
Though biased – preferring the Silver American Eagle dollar coin with its “Liberty walking into the dawn of a new day” – I can appreciate the beauty of the two-pound Silver Britannia coin.
As an example of that bias, scroll back up and click on the Amazon link for our new book, Days of Our Coins. You’ll notice that the Silver American Eagle Proof coin has a prominent position on the front!