I’m not sure whether I’m just particularly unlucky when it comes to being passed counterfeit pound coins, or whether I just happen to notice them more often. Either way, the amount of dodgy one pound coins in circulation must be enormous (1% I’m told).

Anyway, how do you spot them? Well here’s a few good examples of bent coins. It’s easier than you might think, as fortunately counterfeiters aren’t the sharpest tools…

Example #1:

Fake Coin #1 (click on image for larger version)

As far as crooked £1’s go, this is pretty good and will easily pass as real from a ‘quick glance’. The front and back have been stamped centrally and clearly and the colour is good.

It’s much harder to achieve a readable edge inscription “DECUS ET TUTAMEN” though and it’s this that gives this coin away as being fake when inspected more closely. The inscription is half missing, not centred correctly and the coin is only 80% milled.

The year on the front of this coin is 1996. The reverse for this year should be a Celtic cross. Oops! Those not so clever fakers have stamped a Rampant Lion from 1994’s pound coin on the back.

Example #2:

Fake Coin #2

In contrast to the previous example, it’s the colour on this coin that tips you off to it being a fake. I’d imagine that when this coin was freshly counterfeited, it was a pretty good copy. A few years in circulation and the signs of wear give it away now though. But, the fakers aren’t really going to give a toss if it doesn’t stand the test of time, are they.

As you can see from the picture, the silver of the metal below is blatantly showing. You can see on the reverse where I’ve scratched off the ‘gold top coat’ with my fingernail! When compared against a real pound coin, this fake is also very slightly too large and misshapen. Doh! You’d have trouble passing this bad boy through a vending machine then.

Example #3:

Fake Coin #3

The texture of the front of this coin just looks wrong. It has a ‘sprayed’ look, which probably doesn’t come across that well in the picture. Both front and back are centrally stamped, but the edge inscription is of very poor quality and is only partially milled. The reverse Celtic cross isn’t as clear as it should be and is obviously lacking in any detail. When compared to a genuine £1 coin, it’s again very slightly too big.

Having said that, it’s another fairly good copy and could easily be passed off.

Quite remarkedly, the year, edge inscription and reverse picture again all tie up. It’s unbelievably common for them to not match, as you’ll see…

Example #4:

Fake Coin #4

The face on this fake isn’t quite centrally stamped. The edge is 90% milled. The quality of the lettering on the face stamp isn’t marvellous.

As you can see, the face is stamped 1992 and “DECUS ET TUTAMEN” is stamped around the edge. The reverse shows a thistle sprig in a coronet. Doh!! Those pesky fakers have got it wrong again. 1992 was an oak tree in a coronet!

Anyway, that’s enough dodgy pounds for now… more another time!

Part two and part three.

Comments on: "Fake One Pound Coins – Part One" (140)

  1. […] Anyway, following on from the other post about crooked quids, I’ll go through a few more examples of counterfeit £1 coins: […]

  2. […] I guess when it comes to counterfeit £1 coins, I’m a bit of a geek. I’ve blogged a couple of times before about fake coins, but it’s been a while, so I thought I’d post another small bunch. […]

  3. Hic Vadum said:

    As a shopkeeper I have become quite good at spotting fakes, though they have improved recently. My problem is that I work on small margins, I cannot afford to alienate innocent customers by refusing to accept fake coins, and I certainly cannot afford to bag up the £30-40 worth a day I get and just hand them over to the authorities with no hope of compensation. So I do what all my fellow small shop strugglers do, keep mum and recirculate them. Untill the well salaried, guaranteed pensioned lawmakers change the rules the problem will not get solved.

  4. Woah, that’s a lot of fakes! I’ll have to admit, I’d probably do the same if I were in the same situation as you.

    I’m not sure if compensating people for handing them in is really the answer though, as it’d only make it easier for counterfeiters to collect full face value – rather than them having to go to backstreet pubs and asking random punters if they want to buy a bag of twenty £1 pound coins for a tenner etc.

    It’d be better to make the coins harder (and more expensive) to fake in the first place – but I’m sure that won’t happen anytime soon with the one pound coin.

  5. I have an Elizabeth II 2002 pound coin, this is normal. the only thing is that there is a stamp of the letter ‘R’ on her face…
    Does anyone know what this means?

  6. I’ve been monitoring fakes in my change for many years now, sometimes rejecting them and sometimes adding them to my collection. I’ve “estimated” that the proportion in circulation is probably slightly higher than the latest official estimate of 1-2%
    However last week I got called in to count 70-odd pounds-worth of circulation pound coins, and 12% were fairly-obviously fake to someone familiar with them. They were different flavours of fake, ie not all from the same forgery! In a London suburb…

    Would your shopkeeper “Hic Vadum” care to mention what kind of fraction of those he sees are fakes?

  7. I’ve got a fake pound coin. Its not a bad fake, the only thing it is, you put the queens head facing upwards, turn it around and the other side is upside down!
    i’ll send a pic if you want, dave

  8. I collect many one pound coins as Treasurer for our WI and must warn the members about the difference. Also I will not be able to bank this cash either

  9. Just another way to put more fear and lack of trust amonug us. Just the other day I saw a guy at the cash machine who was paroniod that an old lady was trying to see his been. I say bring back trust.

  10. see his pin

  11. A dubious few coins I’ve seen the writng on the side seems the wrong way up. If the writing is not in same direction as queens head is it a fake. Most coins have it facing the queens head but some I’ve seen don’t.

  12. SM, unfortunately no, it doesn’t mean it’s a fake.

    The way I understand the creation process, a blank coin (a ‘planchet’) is held by a surrounding grooved collar. The front and back is then struck simultaneously to create the head and tail of the coin. The force of the strike, expands the coin into the collar grooves, creating the milled edge.

    The coin is then released and falls out of the collar so it can be fed through a separate machine to have the edge inscription added.

    In theory, it’d be a 50/50 chance which way up the inscription appears as it depends on whichever side the coin lands after the first stage.

    There’s a bit more info here.

  13. I checked all my pound coins change (4) on Tuesday after article in paper and found one with the image of the queen as on a 20p piece with the base of the kneck curved down instead of up, a piece cut of the left hand side of the kneck and Elizabeth II on the right hand side of the front of the coin!

  14. I did a coffee morning on Saturday and received 5 £1 coins (out of 63) with no writing at all around edge, are these fake?

  15. If they’re dated between 2004-7, then they should have two overlapping lines running around the edge instead of a text inscription. One of the lines is angular, the other is curved. There should be a break in the pattern with a ‘dot’ in it.

    If they’re from another year, then yes, probably fake.

  16. Clive Crossman said:

    Can anybody verify the following-am I right in saying that the 1983 pound coin can only have the old picture of the Queen on it, and not the new picture and dated 2003…is this a fake…?

  17. Hi Clive, that’s right, a 1983 dated coin wouldn’t have the Ian Rank-Broadley picture of the Queen on it, as that wasn’t even designed until 1997. So that would be a fake.

    A coin dated 2003 however, would have the new Queen head design on it. And, it would share the same reverse and edge inscription of the 1983 coin.

    Hope that makes sense! This might help too.

  18. moan moan moan….. you have all once passed one or more on to the next person, knowingly or otherwise

  19. So I don’t get it, are you saying that the one’s with 1994 stamps are FAKE? What is the edge to read? So give example of a REAL one…

  20. CB, no, not at all. A genuine 1994 pound coin will have a Lion Rampant on the back and the edge inscription will read “Nemo Me Impune Lacessit”. If it’s any other combination, then it MUST be fake.

    However, sometimes even counterfeiters will manage to get the year/edge/reverse combination correct, so there are other signs to check for too, as covered in detail in the other parts of this post and in the comments to them.

    You can find all the correct year/edge/reverse combinations on the Royal Mint page. Chances are you’ll never remember them though (which is why counterfeiters don’t really care much about getting it right), so spotting fakes from the other signs is often much easier when you don’t have easy access to the above guide.

  21. Has anyone had any fake £2 coins. I think I have been given one but In feel it’s a good fake. It is the colouring of the coin and the writing around the edge is poor and dropping off the edge of the coin. Does anyone know about fake £2 coins to help me.

  22. Hi H, I’ve not spotted any fake £2 coins myself, but a few people have mentioned seeing them. If you could scan it, or take a decent picture of it, I’d be quite interested. :-)

  23. I knock the middle out of a £2 coins and put them back the wrong side in when I am bored, sorry.

  24. Yesterday I received in my change a Manx one pound coin, no engraving around the edge. Very blurred poor engraving the three legs Manx sign on the ‘tail’. Fake? What say you?

  25. I have tried to ignore this but with all the comments on how good this information is I feel I need to reply.

    The information in a number of the examples is misleading and incorrect.

    Example 1 Rampant Lion should have an inscription ‘’DECUS ET TUTAMEN”

    This is incorrect the Rampant Lion should have NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT it very easy to spot if you use the image side to check coins against.

    Example 2 these type have more chance of going through the coin mech.

    Example 4. The Thistle should have NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT not DECUS ET TUTAMEN

    Example 5.1995 should be PLEDIOL WYF I’M GWLAD not NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT as suggested.

    The best way to tell a fake particully if you have a lot of £1 coins is to sort them by the image i.e Royal Arms, Celtic Cross ect.. then sort them sort each group by date (see Royal mint web site for correct info). This will find most of the fakes. Then once they have been sort into the corrcet image and date check the sides. Line up the mint marks and compare just that group. This will show up any poor or incorrect inscription. Finally if you want to check a bit more check that the image and heads are aline.

    • Hi Andy,
      Thanks for stopping by and for your comments.

      Regarding the points you raised:

      Example 1 – I think you may have misunderstood what I have written there. I’m just using the year to check – not the image side. Example 1 is supposedly a 1996 coin. The fake I’m talking about therefore has the correct “DECUS ET TUTAMEN” inscription for 1996 on it. This example fake however has an incorrect Rampant Lion stamped on the reverse for the claimed year (1996). I don’t actually say what you state I have incorrectly said.

      Example 2 – I’m not mechanically minded, so I’d be quite interested to hear why you think an oversized, misshapen fake coin would have more chance of going through a coin mechanism successfully than a correctly sized fake coin? It’d kinda defeat the object of any coin size sorting if that was the case wouldn’t it? I realise that ‘magnetic signatures’ and weight would also probably play a part in modern coin mechanisms, but that’s another matter. I see from the site you’ve linked as your homepage it looks like you may have be able to give some useful insight here?

      Example 4 – You seem to have misunderstood this in a similar way you did Example 1. I’m talking about a supposed 1992 coin, which should indeed have a DECUS ET TUTAMEN inscription. I don’t say that a Thistle reverse should have DECUS ET TUTAMEN inscription.

      Example 5 – You are quite correct there however and I have amended that accordingly. Thanks for pointing my mistake out on that one.

      I hope that clears everything up. :-)

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