The New Pound Coin and the Counterfeiting of Money

The Royal Mint launched its latest pound coin last month, though I’m yet to receive one in my change. I honestly thought they’d wait for Her Majesty to be called home before launching a new design. I suspect the thirty million fake coins now in circulation have forced their hand. The current coin was modelled on the gold sovereign when it was launched in 1983; I remember receiving one from my grandmother that year.

The new coins are much harder to forge. According to the Mint’s website, the features include:

  • 12-sided – its distinctive shape makes it instantly recognisable, even by touch.
  • Bimetallic – it is made of two metals. The outer ring is gold coloured (nickel-brass) and the inner ring is silver coloured (nickel-plated alloy).
  • Latent image – it has an image like a hologram that changes from a ‘£’ symbol to the number '1' when the coin is seen from different angles.
  • Micro-lettering – it has very small lettering on the lower inside rim on both sides of the coin. One pound on the obverse “heads” side and the year of production on the reverse “tails” side, for example 2016 or 2017.
  • Milled edges – it has grooves on alternate sides.
  • Hidden high security feature – a high security feature is built into the coin to protect it from counterfeiting in the future.

Man has always forged coins. Pictured is a fake half-crown from the time of Cromwell which I recently bought at auction. It's not a modern fake but comes from the 1650s. It’s made of base metal though silver-plated. It would have been a fairly considerable sum in its day; in 2017, the forgery cost me £20 whereas a real half-crown might cost me a couple of hundred. Folk were busy forging money back then and continue so today.

I’m looking forward to receiving the new pound coins. I hope the Royal Mint, however, is not so naive to think that human greed and dishonesty are not already engineering the means by which these coins may also be counterfeit.