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Britannia, the much loved symbol of Britain, was last stamped on a coin back in 2008, when she was replaced on the 50 pence coin by a design featuring the Royal shield of arms. Now she is back - and in some style as she has been promoted to the two-pound coin. That coin first appeared in 1997 and has not changed since, so this is a major development in the coin's history.
The name Britannia has 4th-century Greek origins. The Romans used it for the whole of what is now Great Britain. The idea of Britannia as a personfication of the country probably started in Elizabethan times but she did not appear on a coin until the reign of Charles II., in 1672. It was a humble start as she appeared only on a farthing (one quarter of an old penny; there were then 240 pennies in a pound). She was reputedly modelled on Frances Stuart, later Duchess of Richmond.
Britannia spent 300 years adorning coins of various value, and appeared on the five-pound note from 1855–1957, until her abrupt fall in 2008. Welcome back, Ma'am!
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