To combat counterfeiters, the British Royal Mint introduced the first new coin in three decades – the last one was introduced in 1983.The old pound coin is very vulnerable to counterfeits – 1 in 30 pound coins are estimated to be fake, and around 45 million fake one pound coins are suspected of being in circulation.
The old coins will lose their status of being legal tender on October 15 of this year, giving the public six months to adjust to the change. On Tuesday, 300 million new coins were put into circulation, while 1.5 billion will be gradually introduced after October.
The new pound coin is said to be the most secure coin in the world, owing to several enhancements in its design and structure. Firstly it was the round nature of the old coin that had made it easy to counterfeit. Thus, the new coin has 12 edges and despite this change, the coin can still roll. This feature also makes the coin instantly recognizable upon touch.
Another important security feature is a secret additive in its center, which forms a binary code that can only be read using a very specific frequency of UV light. This will assist authorities in distinguishing it from fake coins.
The new pound coin is bimetallic – the outer ring is golden colored, (from nickel-brass alloy), while the inner ring has a silver color (from nickel-plated alloy). It is thinner, weighs less, and has a slightly larger diameter compared with the old pound coin. There is a hologram under the portrait of Queen Elizabeth which displays a pound sign and the numeral one, alternatively. The coin also includes micro-lettering, and grooves on alternate sides. According to Gordon Summers, the chief engraver at the Royal Mint, the coin’s new design and weight together add to its sophistication and make it difficult to duplicate.
The person responsible for the “tails” side design of the new coin is 15 year old David Pearce. He beat 6,000 entries for the winning designproviding an image that would symbolize “Britishness”, as required by a 2014 competition which encouraged entrants to think about famous British landmarks, achievements, and other symbols from British history. The winning design shows the English rose, the Welsh leek, the Scottish thistle and the Irish shamrock emerging from one stem surrounded by the royal crown.