One pound (British coin)
|Value||1 pound sterling|
|Edge||Milled with incuse lettering or decoration|
|Composition||70% Cu, 24.5% Zn, and 5.5% Ni|
|Years of minting||1983–present|
|Design||Queen Elizabeth II|
The circulating British one pound (£1) coin is minted from a nickel-brass alloy of (approximately) 70% copper, 24.5% zinc, and 5.5% nickel. The coin weighs 9.50 grams (0.34 avdp oz.) and has a diameter of 22.50 millimetres (0.89 in). The value of the composition metal in a £1 coin amount to approximately 4.18 UK pence or 6.44 US cents as of 7 January 2012. This is about a 24 times price at face value per metal content. The obverse of all UK coins is stamped with a portrait of the reigning sovereign, changed occasionally as the monarch ages and alternately facing left and right from monarch to monarch. The reverse of the £1 coin bears a frequently-changed pattern, and the edge is milled and bears a text inscription.
The coin was introduced on 21 April 1983 to replace the Bank of England one pound note, which ceased to be issued at the end of 1984 and was removed from circulation (though still redeemable at the Bank's offices, like all British coins and banknotes) on 11 March 1988. One-pound notes continue to be issued in Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man, and by the Royal Bank of Scotland, but the pound coin is much more widely used.
The £1 coin has the standard obverse designs used on all contemporary British coins, namely the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II by Arnold Machin in 1983 and 1984, by Raphael Maklouf from 1985 through 1997, and by Ian Rank-Broadley from 1998 onwards. All have had the inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D <date>.
Unique among modern British coinage, the £1 coin (except for 2004-2007 and the 2010-2011 'capital cities' designs) has a mint mark: a small crosslet found on the milled edge that represents Llantrisant in South Wales, where the Royal Mint has been based since 1968.
The design of the reverse of the coin was changed each year from 1983 through 2008 to show, in turn, an emblem representing the UK, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and England, together with an appropriate edge inscription. Since 2008, national-based designs have still been minted, but alongside the new standard version, and no longer in strict rotation. The inscription ONE POUND appears on all reverse designs.
In August 2005 the Royal Mint launched a competition to find new reverse designs for all circulating coins apart from the £2 coin. The winner, announced in April 2008, was Matthew Dent, whose designs were gradually introduced into the circulating British coinage from the summer of 2008. The designs for the 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, and 50p coins depict sections of the Royal Shield that form the whole shield when placed together. The new £1 coin design features the shield in its entirety, representing the UK as a whole. The inscription ONE POUND appears on either side of the emblem.
The reverse designs and edge inscriptions are as follows.
|1983, 1993, 1998, 2003 & 2008: Ornamental royal arms.
DECUS ET TUTAMEN is the motto of a British Army cavalry regiment, later artillery - The Essex Yeomanry, established in 1794. The motto was confirmed by King Edward VII in 1909 when it was added to a regimental guidon (or colours) presented to the Essex Yeomanry regiment by the King. The definitions are: "decus" - virtue, honour or glory; and "tutamen" - defence or protection, thus the meaning is said to be "honour and defence".
|1984 & 1989: Thistle sprig in a coronet, representing Scotland.|
|1985 & 1990. Leek in a coronet, representing Wales.
|1986 & 1991: Flax in a coronet, representing Northern Ireland.
|1987 & 1992: Oak tree in a coronet, representing England.
|1988: Crown over the Royal coat of arms.
|1994: Lion Rampant within a double tressure flory counter-flory, representing Scotland.
|1995 & 2000: Dragon Passant representing Wales.
|1996 & 2001: Celtic cross, Broighter collar and pimpernel, representing Northern Ireland.
|1997 & 2002: Three lions passant guardant, representing England.
|1998: As 1983. Issued in collectors' sets only, not for circulation.
1999: As 1994. Issued in collectors' sets only, not for circulation
|2004: Forth Bridge (Scotland).|
|2005: Menai Suspension Bridge (Wales).|
|2006: MacNeill's Egyptian Arch at Newry (Belfast–Dublin railway line, Northern Ireland).
|2007: Millennium Bridge, Newcastle/Gateshead (England).
|2008 onwards: The shield from the Royal Coat of Arms.|
|2010: Coat of Arms of the City of London.[dead link]
|2010: Coat of Arms of Belfast.[dead link]
|2011: Coat of Arms of Cardiff.
|2011: Coat of Arms of Edinburgh.
|2013: Oak and rose, representing England.|
|2013: Leek and daffodil, representing Wales.
|2014: Floral designs representing Northern Ireland and Scotland, not yet publicised.|
All years except 1998 and 1999 have been issued into circulation, although the number issued has varied enormously – 1983 and 1984 in particular had large mintages to facilitate the changeover from paper notes, while some years such as 1986 and 1988 are only rarely seen (although 1988 is more noticeable as it has a unique reverse). Production since 1997 has been reduced, thanks to the introduction of the circulating two pound coin.
(Matthew Dent design)
Royal Mint surveys estimate the proportion of counterfeit £1 coins in circulation. This was estimated at 2.86% in 2012, having fallen slightly following the prolonged rise from 0.92% in 2002–2003 to 0.98% in 2004, 1.26% in 2005, 1.69% in 2006, 2.06% in 2007, 2.58% in 2008, 2.65% in 2009, 3.07% in 2010 and 3.09% in 2011. Figures were generally reported in the following year; in 2008 (as reported in 2009), the highest levels of counterfeits were in Northern Ireland (3.6%) and the South East and London (2.97%), with the lowest being in Northwest England. Coin testing companies estimated in 2009 that the actual figure was about twice the Mint's estimate, suggesting that the Mint was underplaying the figures so as not to undermine confidence in the coin. It is illegal to pass on counterfeit currency knowingly; the official advice is to hand it in, with details of where received, to the police, who will retain it and investigate. One article suggested "given that fake coins are worthless, you will almost certainly be better off not even looking". The recipient has recourse against the supplier, as in any such case.
Counterfeits are circulated not only by incautious (or dishonest) people but also inadvertently by banks. A 2011 BBC television programme withdrew 1,000 £1 coins from each of five major banks and found that each batch contained between 32 and 38 counterfeits, compared to about 31 estimated by the Mint. Some of the counterfeits were found by automated machinery, others could be detected only by expert visual inspection.
In July 2010, following speculation that the Royal Mint would have to consider replacing £1 coins with a new design because of the fakes, bookmakers Paddy Power offered odds of 6/4 (bet £4 to win £6), that the £1 coin would be removed from circulation.
In addition to obviously visible differences and poor quality (poorer counterfeits generally look less sharply defined, lacking intricate details), many better counterfeits can be detected by comparing the orientation of the obverse and reverse—they always match in genuine coins, but very often not in counterfeits. The design on the reverse must be correct for the stamped year (e.g., a 1996 coin should have a Celtic cross). It is difficult to manufacture coins with properly-produced edges; the milling (grooves) may be incomplete or poor and the inscription (often "DECUS ET TUTAMEN") may be poorly produced and sometimes in the wrong typeface. A shiny coin with less wear than its date suggests is also suspect (although it may be a genuine coin left at the back of a drawer).
Counterfeit coins are made from several metals and by different processes including casting, stamping, electrotyping, copying with a pantograph or spark erosion. Counterfeits made of acrylic plastic containing metal powder to increase weight, have occasionally been found. Counterfeits may be made of a metal of the same colour as genuine coins (often brass) or coated.
Two-pound coins, made from two metals of different colour, are much harder to counterfeit; counterfeited coins are often easily seen to be the wrong colour.
The Swazi lilangeni is minted from the same planchets as the British pound coin, hence has the same chemical constitution, diameter and mass. The lilangeni is worth less (about 7 pence in 2013); this has enabled it to be used for vending machine fraud and payment fraud in situations where the receiver is unlikely to examine the coins closely.
Other pound coins in circulation
Also legally circulating but not legal tender in the UK, are some £1 coins of British Crown Dependencies, Gibraltar and UK South Atlantic colonies, being of the same size and composition as their UK equivalent and mostly bearing the same portraits of the UK monarch (as with most other coins of the same territories).
In an April 1993 The New Yorker article 'Real Britannia', Julian Barnes describes the meetings to choose the 1994–1997 reverse designs. This is reprinted in his book Letters from London as 'Britannia's New Bra Size'.
- "One Pound Coin". Royal Mint Limited. 2010. Retrieved 27 May 2010.
- The one-pound counterfeit coin files: Specifications, with tolerances
- Clive Kahn (2012-12-17). "43.5 Million Fake Pound Coins In Circulation". BusinessReport.
- "History of the Royal Mint". Retrieved 2008-04-09.
- "Royal Mint seeks new coin designs", BBC News, 17 August 2005
- "Royal Mint unveils new UK coins", 2 April 2008
- The Inspiration and Designers: Eric Sewell, Royal Mint
- 1996 Silver Piedfort £1 – Northern Irish Celtic Cross, The Royal Mint, accessed 28 July 2010
- The 2010 UK £1 Gift Card: England. The Royal Mint
- The 2010 UK £1 Gift Card: Northern Ireland. The Royal Mint
- . The Royal Mint
- The Royal Mint
- United Kingdom decimal coins issued into general circulation, Royal Mint
-  HM Treasury FOI response relating to a period 2008-2009
- Josie Ensor (2012-04-01). "Three pound coins in every 100 are fake". London: The Telegraph.
- Rosie Murray-West and Harry Wallop (2010-07-27). "Record number of fake £1 coins could force reissue". London: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/consumertips/banking/7910602/Record-number-of-fake-1-coins-could-force-reissue.html.
- Chris Irvine (2009-01-29). "One £1 coin in 40 is a fake". London: The Telegraph.
- Ben Ando (2009-04-08). "Fake £1 coin estimate 'doubled'". BBC News.
- Fake Britain, Series 2 episode 1, first broadcast on BBC1 TV on 16 May 2011
- Guardian newspaper: How to spot a fake £1 coin, 2 April 2012
- Sarah Preece (2010-07-28). "£1 coin under threat". London: Live Odds and Scores.
-  Three blog entries analyzing counterfeits the author has been passed
- The types of counterfeit one-pound coins and identifying them
- "Swaziland’s Coinage". Numismatic Dimensions.
- Taylor, Ros (2002-11-12). "SOUND AS A POUND?". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
- , Royal Mint
- , Royal Mint
- "Letter From London: Real Britannia". The New Yorker (paid registration required for the full article).
- Coincraft's Standard Catalogue English & UK Coins 1066 to Date, Richard Lobel, Coincraft. ISBN 0-9526228-8-2