One pound (British coin)
|Value||1 pound sterling|
|Edge||Milled, with incuse lettering|
(70% Cu, 24.5% Zn, and 5.5% Ni)
|Design||Queen Elizabeth II|
The British one pound (£1) coin is a denomination of the pound sterling. Its obverse has featured the profile of Queen Elizabeth II since the coin's introduction on 9 February 1983. Three different portraits of the Queen have been used, with the latest design by Ian Rank-Broadley being introduced in 1998. The current standard reverse, featuring the Royal Shield, was introduced in 2008. In addition to the standard reverse one or two new designs are minted each year.
The coin was introduced on 9 February 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 on 11 March 1988, though still redeemable at the Bank's offices, like all English banknotes. 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.
In 2017, a new 12-sided design is to be introduced. The coin is to be of a similar 12-sided shape to the pre-decimal brass threepence coin, have roughly the same size as the current £1 coin and will be bi-metallic like the current £2 coin. The new design is intended to make counterfeiting more difficult, also via an undisclosed hidden security feature.
To date, three different obverses have been used. In all cases, the inscription is ELIZABETH II D.G.REG.F.D. 2013, where 2013 is replaced by the year of minting. A fourth design was unveiled in March 2015.
- In 1983 and 1984 the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Arnold Machin appeared on the obverse, in which the Queen wears the 'Girls of Great Britain and Ireland' Tiara.
- Between 1985 and 1997 the portrait by Raphael Maklouf was used, in which the Queen wears the George IV State Diadem.
- Since 1998 the portrait by Ian Rank-Broadley has been used, again featuring the tiara, with a signature-mark IRB below the portrait.
- From 2015 a portrait by Jody Clark will be introduced, in which the Queen wears the George IV State Diadem, with a signature-mark JC below the portrait.
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 mid-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 shield in its entirety is featured on the £1 coin. The coin's obverse remains unchanged.
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 common with non-commemorative £2 coins, the £1 coin (except 2004–07 and the 2010–11 '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 reverse of the new 12-sided pound coin, to be introduced in 2017, was chosen via a public design competition. The competition to design the reverse of the 12-sided, bi-metallic coin was opened in September 2014. It was won in March 2015 by 15-year-old David Pearce from Walsall, and unveiled by Chancellor George Osborne during his budget announcement. The design features a rose, leek, thistle and shamrock bound by a crown.
|Year||Design||Nation represented||Edge inscription||Translation||Mintage|
|1983||Ornamental royal arms||United Kingdom||DECUS ET TUTAMEN||An ornament and a safeguard||443,053,510|
|1984||Thistle sprig in a coronet||Scotland||NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT||No one attacks me with impunity||146,256,501|
|1985||Leek in a coronet||Wales||PLEIDIOL WYF I'M GWLAD||True am I to my country||228,430,749|
|1986||Flax in a coronet||Northern Ireland||DECUS ET TUTAMEN||An ornament and a safeguard||10,409,501|
|1987||Oak tree in a coronet||England||DECUS ET TUTAMEN||An ornament and a safeguard||39,298,502|
|1988||Crown over the Royal Coat of Arms||United Kingdom||DECUS ET TUTAMEN||An ornament and a safeguard||7,118,825|
|1989||Thistle sprig in a coronet||Scotland||NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT||No one attacks me with impunity||70,580,501|
|1990||Leek in a coronet||Wales||PLEIDIOL WYF I'M GWLAD||True am I to my country||97,269,302|
|1991||Flax in a coronet||Northern Ireland||DECUS ET TUTAMEN||An ornament and a safeguard||38,443,575|
|1992||Oak tree in a coronet||England||DECUS ET TUTAMEN||An ornament and a safeguard||36,320,487|
|1993||Ornamental royal arms||United Kingdom||DECUS ET TUTAMEN||An ornament and a safeguard||114,744,500|
|1994||Lion rampant within a double tressure flory counter-flory||Scotland||NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT||No one attacks me with impunity||29,752,525|
|1995||Dragon passant||Wales||PLEIDIOL WYF I'M GWLAD||True am I to my country||34,503,501|
|1996||Celtic cross, Broighter collar and pimpernel||Northern Ireland||DECUS ET TUTAMEN||An ornament and a safeguard||89,886,000|
|1997||Three lions passant guardant||England||DECUS ET TUTAMEN||An ornament and a safeguard||57,117,450|
|1998||Ornamental royal arms||United Kingdom||DECUS ET TUTAMEN||An ornament and a safeguard||not circulated|
|1999||Lion rampant within a double tressure flory counter-flory||Scotland||NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT||No one attacks me with impunity||not circulated|
|2000||Dragon passant||Wales||PLEIDIOL WYF I'M GWLAD||True am I to my country||109,496,500|
|2001||Celtic cross, Broighter collar and pimpernel||Northern Ireland||DECUS ET TUTAMEN||An ornament and a safeguard||63,968,065|
|2002||Three lions passant guardant||England||DECUS ET TUTAMEN||An ornament and a safeguard||77,818,000|
|2003||Ornamental royal arms||United Kingdom||DECUS ET TUTAMEN||An ornament and a safeguard||61,596,500|
|2004||Forth Bridge||Scotland||Two overlapping lines, one curved and one angular||N/A||39,162,000|
|2005||Menai Suspension Bridge||Wales||Two overlapping lines, one curved and one angular||N/A||99,429,500|
|2006||MacNeill's Egyptian Arch at Newry||Northern Ireland||Two overlapping lines, one curved and one angular||N/A||38,938,000|
|2007||Gateshead Millennium Bridge||England||Two overlapping lines, one curved and one angular||N/A||26,180,160|
|2008||Ornamental royal arms||United Kingdom||DECUS ET TUTAMEN||An ornament and a safeguard||3,910,000|
|2008||The shield from the Royal Coat of Arms||United Kingdom||DECUS ET TUTAMEN||An ornament and a safeguard||43,827,300|
|2009||The shield from the Royal Coat of Arms||United Kingdom||DECUS ET TUTAMEN||An ornament and a safeguard||27,625,600|
|2010||The shield from the Royal Coat of Arms||United Kingdom||DECUS ET TUTAMEN||An ornament and a safeguard||57,120,000|
|2010||Coat of arms of the City of London||England||DOMINE DIRIGE NOS||Lord, guide us||2,635,000|
|2010||Coat of arms of Belfast||Northern Ireland||PRO TANTO QUID RETRIBUAMUS||For so much, what shall we give in return?||6,205,000|
|2011||The shield from the Royal Coat of Arms||United Kingdom||DECUS ET TUTAMEN||An ornament and a safeguard||25,415,000|
|2011||Coat of arms of Cardiff||Wales||Y DDRAIG GOCH DDYRY CYCHWYN||The red dragon rears up||1,615,000|
|2011||Coat of arms of Edinburgh||Scotland||NISI DOMINUS FRUSTRA||In vain without the Lord||935,000|
|2012||The shield from the Royal Coat of Arms||United Kingdom||DECUS ET TUTAMEN||An ornament and a safeguard||35,700,030|
|2013||The shield from the Royal Coat of Arms||United Kingdom||DECUS ET TUTAMEN||An ornament and a safeguard||13,090,500|
|2013||Oak and rose||England||DECUS ET TUTAMEN||An ornament and a safeguard||5,270,000|
|2013||Leek and daffodil||Wales||PLEIDIOL WYF I'M GWLAD||True am I to my country||5,270,000|
|2014||Shamrock and flax plant||Northern Ireland||DECUS ET TUTAMEN||An ornament and a safeguard||–|
|2014||Thistle and bluebell||Scotland||NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT||No one attacks me with impunity||–|
|2014||The shield from the Royal Coat of Arms||United Kingdom||DECUS ET TUTAMEN||An ornament and a safeguard||–|
|2015||Royal arms||United Kingdom||DECUS ET TUTAMEN||An ornament and a safeguard||–|
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.
Royal Mint surveys estimate the proportion of counterfeit £1 coins in circulation. This was estimated at 3.04% in 2013, a rise from 2.74%. The figure previously announced in 2012 was 2.86%, 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 have generally been 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 that has rarely been used.
Counterfeit coins are made by different processes including casting, stamping, electrotyping, copying with a pantograph or spark erosion. In a 2009 survey, 99% of fake £1 coins found in cash centres were made of a nickel-brass, of which 3/5 contained some lead and 1/5 were of a very similar alloy to Royal Mint. The remaining 1% were made of simple copper-zinc brass, or lead and/or tin. Those made of lead or tin may be coated a gold colour; counterfeits made of acrylic plastic containing metal powder to increase weight have occasionally been found.
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. The New Zealand one dollar coin (worth around 50p) can be spent with relative success in places that do not pay too much attention e.g. pubs, due to its similar colour and appearance (it carries the same portraits of the Queen.)
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 Overseas Territories, 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'.
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- , Royal Mint
- , Royal Mint
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- Coincraft's Standard Catalogue English & UK Coins 1066 to Date, Richard Lobel, Coincraft. ISBN 0-9526228-8-2