New twelve sided pound coin to foil counterfeiters. Royal Mint estimates 3% of current £1 coins in circulation are forgeries

19th March 2014


The government is to launch a new 12 sided pound coin by 2017 in a bid to combat the growing problem of forgery. The new £1 coin will have the same shape as the 12-sided three pence piece or ‘threepenny bit’. The Government says will be the most secure in the world.

The current £1 coin has been in circulation for over thirty years – much longer than the normal life cycle of a modern British coin. Its technology is no longer suitable for a coin of its value, leaving it vulnerable to ever more sophisticated counterfeiters.

The government will consult on the new coin in detail, focusing on the impacts on business, and expects to introduce it in 2017.

As with all our coins, the Queen’s portrait will be on the ‘heads’ side, but the Treasury has announced today announced that there will be a public competition to decide the design for the reverse, or ‘tails’ side of the coin.

The most secure coin in circulation in the world

In figures released today, the Royal Mint estimates that about 3% of all £1 coins are now forgeries. In some parts of the United Kingdom country, it is as high as 5%. Over the past few years, around 2 million fake £1 coins have been removed from circulation each year. This is a direct cost to the banks and cash handling centres, and to the economy.

In addition to these costs, increasing rates of counterfeiting could in the future, pose a challenge to the integrity of the currency says the government.

About the new coin

The proposed new coin will be roughly the same size as the £1 coin, and has a number of features which the Royal Mint confirms will make it the most secure coin in the world. These features include:

The threepenny bit

The new £1 coin also pays a fitting tribute to Britain’s heritage. It is the same shape as the 12-sided threepenny bit, which was in circulation from 1937 until decimalisation in 1971.

The threepenny bit was in the first group of coins ever to feature the portrait of HRH Queen Elizabeth II.


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