How much is the 2016 William Shakespeare Skull and Rose £2 Worth? Is it rare?

The Shakespeare Tragedies £2 coin is part of a trio of coins issued by the Royal Mint in 2016 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of the legendary playwright, William Shakespeare.

Often referred to as the Skull and Rose £2 coin, this coin draws inspiration from Shakespeare’s famous tragedies.

Of the three, the Shakespeare Tragedies £2 coin carries a story, and this one intertwines Shakespeare’s timeless tragedies with the delicate beauty of a rose.

His tragedies reflect the mood of the country following the death of Queen Elizabeth I and the theatrical preferences of King James I.

Shakespeare used history, other plays, and non-dramatic literature as sources for his works. In Elizabethan England, there were no copyright laws, so characters, plots, and poetic phrases were considered common property.

Let's take a closer look at this intriguing two pound coin.

History of the coin

The Shakespeare Tragedies £2 coin was minted in 2016 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of the renowned playwright and poet, William Shakespeare. 

William Shakespeare was born in the picturesque town of Stratford-Upon-Avon. His christening took place on the 26th of April, 1564, though the exact day of his birth remains a mystery. Shakespeare is widely acclaimed as one of the most eminent poets and playwrights in history.

During his life, he wrote 154 sonnets and 37 plays, like Macbeth, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Shakespeare passed away on April 23, 1616 at 52.

Design of the coin

Designed by the talented artist John Bergdahl, this coin beautifully weaves love and tragedy together.

The design features a captivating combination of a skull and a rose, capturing the essence of doomed romance found in Shakespeare’s tragic plays 

The reverse side showcases a skull with a rose entwined in its eye sockets, reminiscent of the iconic imagery from Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet."

The inscription on the edge reads: “WHAT A PIECE OF WORK IS MAN,” a line from Hamlet itself.

The obverse of each coin shows the fifth portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, designed by Jody Clark. This is the first time the portrait has been used on £2 coins, having only been unveiled in 2015.

Surrounding her head all around the outer circle is her legendary ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2 POUNDS which translates from Latin to mean Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen, Defender of the Faith.

Designed by Royal Mint engraver, Jody Clark, the fifth definitive UK coin portrait features a bust of Queen Elizabeth II wearing the King George IV State Royal Diamond Diadem Crown, which she wore for her Coronation in 1953.

Jody Clark chose this to link his design to the past as it was featured in the designs by both Raphael Maklouf and Arnold Machin. The Queen is also wearing the Diamond Jubilee drop pearl earring 's and her chin is lifted slightly. 

Denomination £2
Year 2016
Weight 12.00g
Diameter 28.40mm
Reverse Designer John Bergdahl
Obverse Designer Jody Clark
Metal Nickel Brass (Outer) and Cupro-Nickel (Inner)
Mintage 4,615,000

Mintage of the Coin

The Shakespeare Tragedies £2 coin has a mintage of 4,615,000, making it the second lowest mintage among the three Shakespeare coins. While this mintage is not exceptionally low for a £2 coin, its allure lies in its connection to Shakespeare’s wit and laughter. Collectors seek out this coin not only for its scarcity but also for its thematic resonance.

The 2016 Shakespeare Comedies £2 Coin had a mintage of 4,355,000 and the Histories £2 coin, slightly more at 5,655,000.

Other £2 coins released into circulation that year include the 2016 Great Fire of London £2 coin with a relatively low mintage of 1,625,000 and the 2016 First World War Army £2 Coin that had a high mintage of 9,550,000

Additional versions were minted of the 2016 William Shakespeare Tragedies £2 coin namely Brilliant Uncirculated coins in a presentation folder, Silver Proofs, Silver Piedfort Proofs and Gold Proof versions.

How rare is the 2016 William Shakespeare Tragedies £2 Coin?

In terms of rarity, the Tragedies £2 is not to be the rarest £2 coins in circulation due to its relatively high mintage of just over 4.6 million.

Although you are still able to find one in your change, the 'Skull and Rose' £2 coin has been in circulation for over 8 years now, and with coin collectors adding them to their collection thus taking them out of circulation, these coins are becoming harder and harder to find. If you do happen to find one, it is definitely worth hanging on to.

How much is the 2016 William Shakespeare Tragedies Two Pound coin worth?

The 2016 Tragedies £2 coin is worth around £5.50 in good condition, which is considerably more than face value and the value of this coin is steadily increasing.

Where can I buy the 2016 William Shakespeare Tragedies £2 Coin?

You can buy the 2016 Tragedies £2 coin online on auction sites such as eBay or Amazon but please ensure you look at all the information and reputation of the seller.

Alternatively, you can buy it from us by clicking here.

Unfortunately, as this coin is now 8 years old, the Royal Mint no longer stocks this coin so it is only available to buy on the secondary market.

Are there any known errors of this coin?

Some collectors have noticed an intriguing twist: a supposed error version of this coin. Instead of the expected inscription, some coins read: “FOR KING AND COUNTRY.” This phrase is actually meant for the Royal Mint’s First World War £2 coin, issued in 2016 to commemorate the army’s role in WWI.

The Royal Mint has confirmed the error, and it remains unclear how many error versions exist.

Bit of trivia...

The character of Hamlet has the most lines of any character in all of Shakespeare’s plays. Hamlet is also Shakespeare’s longest play.

William Shakespeare was an actor, not just a playwright, and it is thought that he played the Ghost of old Hamlet in the original production of this tragedy.

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