The UK’s new 12-sided £1 coins, which were first announced during the 2014 Budget, entered circulation today (28 March).
The existing, round £1 coin will continue to be legal tender alongside the new one until 15 October 2017 so the public are being encouraged to use their current £1 coins or take them to the bank before they expire.
That’s easy, you might think, as you rummage through the depths of your handbag or wallet, but the government estimates that around a third of the £1.3 billion worth of coins stored in piggy banks or savings jars around the country are £1 coins. One in 30 old £1 coins is also thought to be counterfeit, hence the drive for a more complex design.
Some of the round coins will be melted down and used to make the new version. The Royal Mint has dubbed them ‘the most secure coin in the world’ and they have the following features:
- 12-sided (technically a dodecagan) – it stands out by sight and touch.
- Bimetallic – the coin’s outer ring is gold coloured (nickel brass) and its inner ring is silver (nickel-plated alloy).
- It has a hologram-like image that changes from a ‘£’ symbol to the number ‘1’ when viewed from different angles.
- A hidden security feature has been built-in but what that is exactly is a mystery for now (just to keep the counterfeiters guessing).
- The edges have ‘ONE POUND’ written on them in micro-lettering.
- There are grooves on alternate sides of the coin.
There are more changes on the currency front. 2016 saw the ‘plastic’ £5 note enter circulation. A new polymer £10 featuring Jane Austen is expected in September. And the Bank of England has now announced a new polymer £20, featuring the artist JMW Turner to be launched in two years’ time. There will also be 2 versions of the £2 coin – one depicting Jane Austen and the other, the Royal Flying Corps.
So, check down the back of the sofa and take a hammer to the piggy bank now – you don’t want to discover a round pound coin on 16 October!