On March 28, 2017, the Royal Mint of England released a new 12-sided one-pound (£1) coin to replace the pound coin that has been in circulation since 1983. That coin was introduced to replace the one-pound banknote, which had proven to have a very short (9 month) life. Arguing that the short-lived notes tended to become too “tatty” in circulation, the Treasury decided that a coin would be a better vehicle, especially since the British pound had lost a great deal of its value due to inflation in the 1970s. 

A Popular Coin with a Big Problem

The pound coin proved very popular, and nearly 2.4 billion were produced between 1983 and 2016 with over 20 different designs on the reverse that represented the four countries of the United Kingdom along with four different portraits of Queen Elizabeth II on its face (obverse). The copper-nickel coin had an attractive gold appearance and was easy to carry and use.

It also proved fairly easy to counterfeit.

In 2011, the BBC got 1,000 of the coins from each of five different banks and found that the batches contained between 32 and 38 counterfeits per batch. The official Royal Mint estimate is slightly lower: 3.1%. Either way, that means that millions of phony pound coins are circulating. London, you have a problem.

Enter the New, Secure Pound Coin

To solve the counterfeiting problem, the Mint designed an all-new pound coin. It is 12-sided rather than round and has two different metal components. A gold-colored nickel-brass ring surrounds silver-color nickel-plated inner circle that carries a portrait of the queen on its face with an English rose, Scottish thistle, Welsh leek, and Northern Irish shamrock surrounded by a coronet on its reverse.

Plans are for the reverse design to change periodically to commemorate various things including Jane Austen, Sir Isaac Newton and the Royal Flying Corps.

The coins include a variety of extra security measures including a hologram-like image, micro-lettering, and an undisclosed “security feature.” The coins are also larger, thinner, and lighter than the previous ones in the hope of making them easy to identify, especially for people with impairments.

For more information, the UK Telegraph has details about the new coin on their website.

Haste Makes Waste—and Wealth

The British government wanted to make the transition to the new coins a quick one, giving Britons only about six months before the old coins will be removed from circulation. That meant striking over 100,000 per hour to build up a supply of over 700 million coins for the March 28 launch. It was a monumental task, and in the rush, several mistakes were made causing some of the coins to have collectible values of up to 300 times their face value (a British pound is worth roughly $1.25 US at the time this article is being written). Test coins and proofs have extra value of their own, as well. But the real money is in the error coins. These include misaligned dies and coins that were improperly dated 2016.

While most of the new coins are not worth more than their face value, one British coin dealer thinks that the proofs and so-called “trial coins” will have significant future value, along with collector coins such as last-year-of-issue 2016 silver proof, silver proof piedfort and gold proof coins. But even those pale in value compared to an error coin, so if you think you may have come across one, check its date (the errors are marked 2016) and look for misalignment. The queen’s head on front and the floral crown on the reverse should both sit directly above the point on the bottom beveled edge. You can learn more about valuable £1 new coins here. And as always, if you decide to invest, only buy from a reputable dealer with return privileges.

Interested in beginning or augmenting your international coins collection? Check out our selection of Zimbabwe, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Afghani, Russian, Chinese, Nigerian and even more currencies from around the world!

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Great American Coin Company