Definitions

british pound

One pound (British decimal coin)

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 oz) and has a diameter of 22.50 millimetres (0.89 in.).

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) on 11 March 1988. One pound notes are still issued in Jersey, Guernsey and by the Royal Bank of Scotland, but the pound coin is much more widely used. It was given the nickname "round pound" on introduction, although this term did not remain in common use.

As of December 2005 there were an estimated 1,452 million £1 coins in circulation.

Designs

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 between 1985 and 1997, and by Ian Rank-Broadley since 1998. All have had the inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D date.

Uniquely amongst modern British coinage, the £1 coin 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.

An interesting feature of this denomination is that the design of the reverse of the coin changed each year between 1983 and 2008 to show, in turn, an emblem representing the UK, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and England, together with an appropriate edge inscription. The inscription ONE POUND appears at the bottom of all reverse designs before April 2008.

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 will appear on the British coinage from summer 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 are as follows.

1983: Ornamental royal arms.
Edge inscription: DECUS ET TUTAMEN ("An ornament and a safeguard" – originally on 17th century coins, this refers to the inscribed edge as a protection against the clipping of precious metal. The phrase may be part of a line from Virgil - "viro decus et tutamen in armis" (Aeneid, Book V, L. 262) is used to describe a shirt of golden chainmail awarded as a prize to Mnestheus). Designed by Eric Sewell.
1984: Thistle sprig in a coronet, representing Scotland.
Edge inscription: NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT ("No-one provokes me with impunity" – the Latin motto of the Order of the Thistle).
1985. Leek in a coronet, representing Wales.
Edge inscription: PLEIDIOL WYF I'M GWLAD ("True am I to my country" – from the chorus of the Welsh National Anthem).
1986: Flax in a coronet, representing Northern Ireland.
Edge inscription: DECUS ET TUTAMEN.
1987: Oak tree in a coronet, representing England.
Edge inscription: DECUS ET TUTAMEN.
1988: Crown over shield.
Edge inscription: DECUS ET TUTAMEN.
1989: As 1984.
1990: As 1985.
1991: As 1986.
1992: As 1987.
1993: As 1983.
1994: Lion Rampant within a double tressure flory counter-flory, representing Scotland.
Edge inscription: NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT.
1995: Welsh dragon.
Edge inscription: PLEIDIOL WYF I'M GWLAD.
1996: Celtic cross and pimpernel, representing Northern Ireland.
Edge inscription: DECUS ET TUTAMEN.
1997: Three lions passant guardant, representing England.
Edge inscription: DECUS ET TUTAMEN.
1998: As 1983. Issued in collectors' sets only, not for circulation.
1999: As 1994. Issued in collectors' sets only, not for circulation.
2000: As 1995.
2001: As 1996.
2002: As 1997.
2003: As 1983.
2004: Forth Bridge (Scotland).
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2004, starting below, IRB directly under the bust. Encircled by dots.
Reverse: Forth Rail Bridge, ONE POUND below. Encircled by a railway line.
Edge: Two overlapping lines, one curved and one angular, reminiscent of the shape of the bridge.
2005: Menai Suspension Bridge (Wales).
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2005, starting below, IRB directly under the bust. Encircled by dots.
Reverse: Menai Suspension Bridge, ONE POUND below. Encircled by a truss.
Edge: Two overlapping lines, one curved and one angular.
2006: MacNeill's Egyptian Arch at Newry (Belfast–Dublin railway line, Northern Ireland).
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2006, starting below, IRB directly under the bust. Encircled by dots.
Reverse: MacNeill's Egyptian Arch, ONE POUND below. Encircled by a truss.
Edge: Two overlapping lines, one curved and one angular.
2007: Millennium Bridge, Newcastle/Gateshead (England).
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2007, starting below, IRB directly under the bust. Encircled by dots.
Reverse: Millennium Bridge, ONE POUND below. Encircled by a truss.
Edge: Two overlapping lines, one curved and one angular.
January–April 2008: As 1983.
2008–: The shield from the Royal Coat of Arms.
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2008, starting below, IRB directly under the bust.
Reverse: The Royal Shield, ONE and POUND either side of the shield.
Edge inscription: DECUS ET TUTAMEN.

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.

Mintages

  • 1983 ~ 443,053,510
  • 1984 ~ 146,256,501
  • 1985 ~ 228,430,749
  • 1986 ~ 10,409,501
  • 1987 ~ 39,298,502
  • 1988 ~ 7,118,825
  • 1989 ~ 70,580,501
  • 1990 ~ 97,269,302
  • 1991 ~ 38,443,575
  • 1992 ~ 36,320,487
  • 1993 ~ 114,744,500
  • 1994 ~ 29,752,525
  • 1995 ~ 34,503,501
  • 1996 ~ 89,886,000
  • 1997 ~ 57,117,450
  • 1998-1999 ~ none
  • 2000 ~ 109,496,500
  • 2001 ~ 58,093,731
  • 2002 ~ 77,818,000
  • 2003 ~ 61,596,500
  • 2004 ~ 39,162,000
  • 2005 ~ 68,138,000

Counterfeiting

It is a common misconception that all fake pound coins are made of lead. In fact, the vast majority are made of copper, and most lead copies are easy to spot and are quickly removed from circulation. A Royal Mint survey in 2006 revealed that 1.7% of £1 coins in circulation are counterfeit – nearly twice as many as earlier estimates. According to figures obtained by the BBC, as of 2008, 2% of £1 coins are fake. One common method of detecting counterfeits (if the sound of the coin on a table or the colour of the metal doesn't indicate something suspicious) is to check whether the reverse matches the edge inscription for the alleged year – it is extremely common for counterfeiters to get this wrong. Also, the writing on the edge may be in the wrong font and look very poor (see image), and the coins often generally look much less sharp and defined, lacking intricate details.

The Swazi lilangeni is minted from the same planchets as the British pound coin, and hence has the same chemical constitution, diameter, and mass. Due to currency exchange rates the Lilangeni represents significantly less money (the 2008 exchange rate is around 14 lilangenis to the pound). This has enabled it to be used for vending machine fraud, and payment fraud in situations where the receiver is unlikely to closely examine the coins.

Further reading

In an April 1993 The New Yorker article 'Rule 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'.

See also

References

  • Coincraft's Standard Catalogue English & UK Coins 1066 to Date, Richard Lobel, Coincraft. ISBN 0-9526228-8-2

External links

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