Coins of England and Great Britain

('Coins of the UK')

by Tony Clayton


9 - Decimal One Pound


Decimal Fifty Pence <<-- : -->> Decimal Two Pounds

Values of Decimal 1 and 2 coins
Pictures of Decimal One Pound coins


Introduction

Inflation resulted in the replacement of the one pound note in 1983. At first the introduction of a coin for this denomination for the first time since the First World War was not very popular. However the coin has now been accepted.

After the fiasco of the attempt by the US Government to introduce a dollar coin in 1979, an number of lessons were learnt.

  1. The coin was made of a different colour alloy, making it easy to distinguish.
  2. It was made much thicker than normal for two reasons:
  3. The pound note was rapidly withdrawn once sufficient of the coins were in circulation, forcing its use by the public. The notes were demonetised on 11th March 1988.
  4. Slot machine manufacturers were consulted in good time to allow modification of existing machines. (n.b. I have to be careful here, as US readers will think I mean only gaming machines, whereas I mean all machines that take coins through slots, including what US readers would call vending machines!)

Edge Inscriptions

All one pound coins have an edge inscription as a security measure.

As the edge inscriptions are stamped on the edge of blank coins before striking, they can (and do) appear either way up in theoretically equal quantities.


One Pound


The One Pound coin was introduced in 1983 as inflation had reduced the purchasing of the note to a very low level.

One of the most interesting characteristics of this coin is the change in design each year, covering each of the countries that comprise the United Kingdom, and the use of an edge inscription for security.

The one pound coin weighs 9.50 grams and has a diameter of 22.50 mm. (the sovereign weighs 8.0 grams and is 22 mm diameter). All issues are available as nickel-brass proofs from sets. Proofs in other metals are listed below.

There are four obverse types that have been used:

  1. First Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D <date> starting top right
    Used from 1983 to 1984.

  2. Second Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D <date> starting low left
    Used from 1985 to 1997.

  3. Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D <date> starting low left. Initials IRB below bust. Beading around.
    Used from 1998 to 2008.

  4. Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D <date> starting low left. Initials IRB below bust. No beading.
    Used from 2008.

There are nine edge inscriptions that have been used. All of them are superimposed on a reeded edge, and are applied to the blanks before the coin is struck. Thus there is a 50% chance of the edge inscription being a particular way up. Blanks with the edge inscription but no design or edge reeding have been found in circulation, but are very rare.

  1. DECUS ET TUTAMEN, meaning 'An Ornament and a Safeguard'
    Used on British, English and Northern Ireland designs.

  2. NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT, meaning 'No-one provokes me with impunity', which is the Latin Motto of the Order of the Thistle.
    Used on Scottish designs.

  3. PLEIDIOL WYF I'M GWLAD, meaning 'True am I to my country', taken from the Welsh National Anthem.
    Used on Welsh designs.

  4. A pattern of lozenges representing the cantilevers of the Forth Rail Bridge.
    Used on the 2004 Scottish design.

  5. A pattern representing bridges and pathways (which looks much the same as that for 2004).
    Used on the 2005 Welsh, 2006 Irish and 2007 English designs.

  6. Four further inscriptions used on the 'City' coins of 2010-11.

There have been many distinct types of pound coin in the 29 years that it has been issued, with new designs from 1994 on, and again from 2004 onwards:

  1. Obverse: First Portrait. Reverse: Ornamental Royal Arms, ONE POUND below. There are 100 beads around the edge, representing the 100 pence in a pound.
    Edge: DECUS ET TUTAMEN
    Issued in 1983 (UK design)
    Proofs: silver and silver piedfort.

  2. Obverse: First Portrait. Reverse: Thistle Sprig in Coronet, ONE POUND below.
    Edge: NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT
    Issued in 1984 (Scottish design)
    Proofs: silver and silver piedfort.

  3. Obverse: Second Portrait. Reverse: Leek in Coronet, ONE POUND below.
    Edge: PLEIDIOL WYF I'M GWLAD
    Issued in 1985 and 1990 (Welsh design). The 1985 coin has an edge inscription 2.0 mm high, while that for the 1990 coin is distinctly different and only 1.7 mm high.
    Proofs: silver in 1985 and 1990; silver piedfort in 1985.

  4. Obverse: Second Portrait. Reverse: Flax in Coronet, ONE POUND below.
    Edge: DECUS ET TUTAMEN
    Issued in 1986 and 1991 (Northern Ireland design). The 1986 coin has an edge inscription 2.0 mm high, while that for the 1991 coin is distinctly different and only 1.7 mm high.
    Proofs: silver in 1986 and 1991; silver piedfort in 1986.

  5. Obverse: Second Portrait. Reverse: Oak Tree in Coronet, ONE POUND below.
    Edge: DECUS ET TUTAMEN
    Issued in 1987 and 1992 (English design). The 1987 coin has an edge inscription 2.0 mm high, while that for the 1992 coin is distinctly different and only 1.7 mm high.
    Proofs: silver in 1987 and 1992; silver piedfort in 1987.

  6. Obverse: Second Portrait. Reverse: Crown over shield, ONE POUND below.
    Edge: DECUS ET TUTAMEN
    Issued in 1988 (UK design)
    Proofs: silver and silver piedfort.

  7. Obverse: Second Portrait. Reverse: Thistle Sprig in Coronet, ONE POUND below, as 1984.
    Edge: NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT
    Issued in 1989 (Scottish design)
    Proofs: silver and silver piedfort.

  8. Obverse: Second Portrait. Reverse: Ornamental Royal Arms, ONE POUND below, as 1983.
    Edge: DECUS ET TUTAMEN
    Issued in 1993 (UK design)
    Proofs: silver and silver piedfort.

  9. Obverse: Second Portrait. Reverse: Lion Rampant in border, ONE POUND below.
    Edge: NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT
    Issued in 1994 (Scottish design)
    Proofs: silver and silver piedfort.

  10. Obverse: Second Portrait. Reverse: Welsh Dragon, ONE POUND below.
    Edge: PLEIDIOL WYF I'M GWLAD
    Issued in 1995 (Welsh design)
    Proofs: silver and silver piedfort.

  11. Obverse: Second Portrait. Reverse: Celtic cross and pimpernel, ONE POUND below.
    Edge: DECUS ET TUTAMEN
    Issued in 1996 (Northern Ireland design)
    Proofs: silver and silver piedfort.

  12. Obverse: Second Portrait. Reverse: Three lions passant guardant, ONE POUND below.
    Edge: DECUS ET TUTAMEN
    Issued in 1997 (English design)
    Proofs: silver and silver piedfort.

  13. Obverse: Third Portrait. Reverse: Ornamental Royal Arms, ONE POUND below, as for 1983 and 1993.
    Edge: DECUS ET TUTAMEN
    Issued in 1998 (in proof and uncirculated sets only), 2003 and 2008 (UK design). Pound coins of this type dated 2008 have now been seen in circulation, some time after 2008 coins of the new type.
    Proofs: silver in 1998, 2003 and 2008 (2008 also with selective gold plating on the reverse); gold in 2008; platinum in 2008; silver piedfort in 1998 and 2003.

  14. Obverse: Third Portrait. Reverse: Lion Rampant in border, ONE POUND below, as 1994.
    Edge: NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT
    Issued in 1999 (Scottish design) in proof and uncirculated sets only. Not issued for circulation.
    Proofs: silver (also with reverse frosting) and silver piedfort.
    Gold proofs and silver proofs with selective gold plating on the reverse are known dated 2008 from sets.

  15. Obverse: Third Portrait. Reverse: Welsh Dragon, ONE POUND below, as 1995.
    Edge: PLEIDIOL WYF I'M GWLAD
    Issued in 2000 (Welsh design).
    Proofs: silver (also with reverse frosting) and silver piedfort.
    Gold proofs and silver proofs with selective gold plating on the reverse are known dated 2008 from sets.

  16. Obverse: Third Portrait. Reverse: Celtic cross and pimpernel, ONE POUND below, as 1996.
    Edge: DECUS ET TUTAMEN
    Issued in 2001 (Northern Ireland design).
    Proofs: silver (also with reverse frosting) and silver piedfort.
    Gold proofs and silver proofs with selective gold plating on the reverse are known dated 2008 from sets.

  17. Obverse: Third Portrait. Reverse: Three lions passant guardant, ONE POUND below, as 1997.
    Edge: DECUS ET TUTAMEN
    Issued in 2002 (English design).
    Proofs: silver (also with reverse frosting), gold, and silver piedfort.
    Gold proofs and silver proofs with selective gold plating on the reverse are known dated 2008 from sets.

  18. Obverse: Third Portrait. Reverse: Forth Railway Bridge, ONE POUND below, rail track around.
    Edge: Zig-zag pattern representing the cantilevers of the Forth Rail Bridge.
    Issued in 2004 (Scottish design).
    Proofs: silver, gold, and silver piedfort.
    Gold proofs and silver proofs with selective gold plating on the reverse are known dated 2008 from sets.

  19. Obverse: Third Portrait. Reverse: Menai Suspension Bridge, ONE POUND below.
    Edge: Pattern symbolising bridges and pathways. Designed by Edwina Ellis.
    Issued in 2005 (Welsh design).
    Proofs: silver, gold, and silver piedfort.
    Gold proofs and silver proofs with selective gold plating on the reverse are known dated 2008 from sets.

  20. Obverse: Third Portrait. Reverse: The Egyptian Arch (a railway bridge crossing the Newry-Camlough Road), ONE POUND below.
    Edge: Pattern symbolising bridges and pathways. Designed by Edwina Ellis.
    Issued in 2006 (Irish design).
    Proofs: silver, gold, and silver piedfort.
    Gold proofs and silver proofs with selective gold plating on the reverse are known dated 2008 from sets.

  21. Obverse: Third Portrait. Reverse: The Gateshead Millenium Bridge, ONE POUND below.
    Edge: Pattern symbolising bridges and pathways. Designed by Edwina Ellis.
    Issued in 2007 (English design).
    Proofs: silver, gold, and silver piedfort.
    Gold proofs and silver proofs with selective gold plating on the reverse are known dated 2008 from sets.

  22. Obverse: Third Portrait. No beading. Reverse: Shield with Royal Arms, ONE POUND below.
    Edge:
    Issued from 2008 to 2014. 2013 not yet seen in circulation, available in Royal Mint sets only.
    Proofs: silver from 2008 to 2010; gold in 2008 and 2009; platinum in 2008; silver piedfort in 2008.
    Non-proof versions in silver are known dated 2009 and 2010. There may be others.

  23. Obverse: Third Portrait. No beading. Reverse: Heraldic device of Belfast, BELFAST above, ONE to left, POUND to right, devices of Edinburgh, London and Cardiff below.
    Edge: PRO TANTO QUID RETRIBUAMUS (What shall we give in return for so much)
    In circulation.
    Proofs: silver, gold, and silver piedfort.

  24. Obverse: Third Portrait. No beading. Reverse: Heraldic device of the City of London, LONDON above, ONE to left, POUND to right, devices of Cardiff, Belfast and Edinburgh below.
    Edge: DOMINE DIRIGE NOS (Lord Direct Us)
    In circulation.
    Proofs: silver, gold, and silver piedfort.

  25. Obverse: Third Portrait. No beading. Reverse: Heraldic device of Edinburgh, EDINBURGH above, ONE to left, POUND to right, devices of London, Cardiff and Belfast below.
    Edge: NISI DOMINUS FRUSTRA (It is vain without the Lord)
    A few have been seen in circulation.

  26. Obverse: Third Portrait. No beading. Reverse: Heraldic device of the City of Cardiff, CARDIFF above, ONE to left, POUND to right, devices of Belfast, Edinburgh and London below.
    Edge: Y DDRAIG GOCH DDYRY CYCHWYN (The Red Dragon Shall Lead)
    In circulation.

  27. Obverse: Third Portrait. No beading. Reverse: Rose and Oak sprig with acorn, ONE POUND below.
    Edge: DECUS ET TUTAMEN
    Issued in 2013 and seen in circulation.

  28. Obverse: Third Portrait. No beading. Reverse: Leek and Daffodil ONE POUND below.
    Edge: PLEIDIOL WYF I'M GWLAD
    Issued in 2013 and seen in circulation.

  29. Obverse: Third Portrait. No beading. Reverse: Flax and Shamrock, ONE POUND below.
    Edge: DECUS ET TUTAMEN (to be confirmed)
    To be issued in 2014 but not yet seen in circulation, available in Royal Mint sets only.

  30. Obverse: Third Portrait. No beading. Reverse: Thistle and Bluebell ONE POUND below.
    Edge: NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT (to be confirmed)
    To be issued in 2014 but not yet seen in circulation, available in Royal Mint sets only.

Gold proofs and silver proofs with selective gold plating on the reverse for the four national designs issued prior to 1998 are known dated 2008 from commemorative sets. These all have the Third Portrait.

All dates of the regular issues except 1998 and 1999 have entered circulation, although some are rarely seen, particularly 1986 and 1988. The shortage of the latter is more noticeable because of its very distinctive design; the design of the 1986 coin is somewhat similar to other designs so its scarcity is not so obvious.

A number of patterns, four similar to the new bridge designs and four with heraldic designs, but with no inscription of value, were made available to the public in silver and gold.


Design Errors on One Pound Coins - Forgeries

Pound coins with apparent errors such as the wrong reverse or edge inscription for the year, and/or poor quality edge inscriptions are forgeries. Angled reverses are another indication.

Some forgeries are plated metal of poor quality, but others are made of brass. These can sometimes be identified by a slight difference in colour to the normal. The inscriptions may be less clear than normal, but as some of the early designs of genuine coins wear very badly, this is not a sole indicator of being a forgery.

A sure test is to examine the bottom of the incuse edge inscription with a powerful lens. The genuine coins show a clearly defined flat base to the hollows forming the inscription, which is almost certainly absent in the case of a forgery.

It has been estimated that 2% or more of all pound coins in circulation are forged, although in my experience the ratio is a bit less than that.


Acknowledgements

See my Main Coins Index page for acknowledgements


Links

Decimal Fifty Pence <<-- : -->> Decimal Two Pounds

Main Index
Values Index
Values of 1 and 2 coins.
Pictures Index
Pictures of Decimal One Pound Coins

Help and Advice


Decimal Coins of the UK - 9 - One Pound
Copyright reserved by the author, Tony Clayton
v29 1st October 2014
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