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. I found 5 fakes out of 130 coins, 3 are average fakes but would pass as genuine to most till jockeys, the fourth is perfect front and back but with a poor inscription. The fifth I had to really argue with myself if it was a fake because it is excellent, it’s a correct copy of the dragon pound, the milling is good and the inscription is roughly the correct font, however the inscription is nowhere near deep/clear enough and the cross on it is wrong it’s just a cross like a plus sign the coin is in good lightly circulated condition so the faintness is def not due to wear

  2. I have checked a large number of pound coins recently and I have found that the 2000 ‘dragon’ reverse often has a light strike of the edge legend. Provided that the lettering is in the correct style and typeface (compare with another) and there are no other obvious defects, it is likely that your coin is genuine.

    • Bill’s right,

      Don’t look to deep, I think everyone forgets that thousands of coins are minted per minute, using a number of different machines. If you have any doubts then assume that its genuine.

      Just for C’s information, last week I again checked out a vending machine cash box and out of the 109 £1 coins I found 3 that are dedicate fakes. There was also another 3 that I had my doubts about.

  3. Some time ago it was reported that an African country (Swaziland Lesotho?) had a coin the same size and weight as a UK £1 coin. Was there ever a problem with these being passed in coin operated coins?

    Also, can anyone tell me why places like Gibraltar and the Falklands have their own coinage when the currency has parity with UK sterling? Jersey and Guernsey I can understand but not British Dependent Terrortries having their own.

    • Yes the Swaziland coin was a problem, I believe the blank was made by the Royal Mint. Many years ago they changed the make up of the coins metal content and new measuring technoligies in the coin mech have helped to reduce the problem.

      We are just starting to put out some coin info on our web site so if your interested have a look http://www.willings.co.uk.

    • I live in Ireland and I dumped a dump of coins mixed english and irish as I couldnt be bothered to sort them out and I found that all my £1 coins were counted as 1 euro are they the same weight or something??

  4. Hi,
    I have a very odd pound coin,
    I’v never seen this one before.
    It has what looks like a knite on horse back.
    Above it says `AMICUS . CHRISTI . GEORGIUS`
    At the bottem it has “£1” Witch made me think it might be fake.
    I tried the axies test ( Holding the coin and looking at the placements of the head and pattern on the back)
    and it matches.
    It has no Lettering on the side. Not even a cross. Just virtical lines.
    On the otherside It has Queen elizbeth II’s head.
    Above it says.
    Giberaltar . elizabeth II
    With 2003 under the head.

    I’d like To know if its fake, or if anyone has one of these coins.


    • It doesn’t sound like a fake, but it does sound like you’ve found yourself a 2003 Gibraltar pound coin. (Image from the World Coin Gallery)

      I think strictly speaking it isn’t legal tender in the UK, but just take it to a bank and they’ll probably swap it for you free of charge. As it’s pounds sterling it’s worth exactly the same as a UK pound. Saying that, most shops/people wouldn’t even notice/mind/care if you tried to spend it here though.

  5. Just to confirm the myth that vending machines don’t accept fakes. Yesterday, using a coin validator set up to reject fakes, I inspected 280 £1 coins taken from fruit machines of a local working mans club.

    Our coin validator rejected 13 coins, out of these their 9 are definite fakes, the others will need much closer inspection.

    So in the best case that’s 3.2%, not bad as vending machines don’t accept fakes.

    • Interesting stat, thanks for that!

      These might be a daft questions (so apologies in advance), but how come the fruit machines accepted those 13 coins in the first place if your validator can pick them up? Do those particular fruit machines just happen to use older/different/less effective coin validation methods?

      Plus, in your experience do fruit machines generally have more of a problem with counterfeit coins than other vending machines do?

      By the way, I’ve just been reading some of the info on your website (quick plug: Willings). Most informative, but I couldn’t seem to read the £1 fake ‘fact file 00002’, as it just kept loading 00001 again. Part 1 left me wanting more! :-)

      • Not a daft questions. I started to answer your questions but it got a bit lengthy, so I have decided to add it to my fact file for next week 00003.

        00002 will partly answer the questions?

        Glad to see that the fact files are of interest. I was getting ahead of myself and uploaded the link before I had completed No.2. I hope to upload it later today.

      • Just to say that I have now uploaded a reply to our web site and sorted out the links.

        • Hi Andy, as always, thanks for the reply. I think what I was really wondering is that do you think that counterfeiters use fruit machines as a low risk (albeit inefficient) way of trying to exchange large quantities of fake pound coins for real ones?

          • In the past this has been the case and not just fruit machines. Now it seems that we just have a large volume of fakes in general circulation that are being used vending machines.

            The recent articles that schools have warned hundreds of parents to beware, after received more than 100 fake £1 coins as payment for meals, suggests to me that the fakes are being made for use in everyday life.

            However, there will always be a bit of trying to exchange fakes for real coins ( or goods )through vending machines.

  6. Drunkun jedi said:

    I work in an amusement arcade in dorset and over the last three years i have experienced the following:-

    1) african coins were a big problem for the arcade last spring to summer. We have alsorts of levels of tech re coin mechs from stone ones to ones that havent been invented yet ;) and generally the VERY old coin mechs took these coins, there is a cigerete machine that would take them 100%

    2) fakes…because of the business i am in, i find that £1 coins are generally treated as tokens which are cashed up for paper money at the customers discretion. it is for this reason that we practise the rule where if a coin is accepted through the coin mech, it is accepted. all rejects are seperated and put into two catagories useable and chuckable.

    3) we put our pound coins in pots of 50 and i would almost say with certancy* that there is at least 1 fake per 50. it is really amazing that with all the publicity there has been of late on the subject, that not many people actually can be bothered to look or inform themselves of the situation.

    now on a slightly different note (or coin…boom boom)

    i have come across a bailiwick pound coin a few times that has no queens head (1983 if i remember correctly) boat on one side and a crest on the other? any clues on how many were made ect?

    be well

  7. Can you tell me about £1 coins which don’t have lettering around the edges – i.e a sort of ribbon effect? Are these fake or simply a change from the Decus et Tutamen? Many thanks.

    • 2004-2007 pound coins have two overlapping lines, one curved, one angular – supposedly to symbolise “bridges and pathways”. There should be a small dot separating the beginning and end of the pattern. So, not necessarily fake, no.

  8. Interesting to see the discussion turning to Channel Island coins as they are often, along with Isle of Man and Gibraltar pounds, mistaken for counterfeits. However, not all are genuine! I have recently got a forged 1994 Jersey pound with the ship ‘Resolute’ on the reverse. I was really surprised that anybody would have bothered to forge one of these.

  9. I’ve been collecting ‘fake coins’ since the start of the year and now can usually spot one immediately in a handful of change. I’ve got around 25 so far as well as £1 coins from Jersey, Isle of Man, Guernsey and Gibraltar.

    My collection started when I decided to collect all the differing £1 designs since 1983 as a set for my kids but started noticing the fakes and decided to read up on the subject. This was the first website I found where I could relate to specific fakes I had got.

    Many fakes are poor quality but I have found some that are really good copies and only after a fair bit of scrutiny do you realise its a fake.

    There really aren’t enough people around who know how to spot them and this is what the forgers rely on. Even talking to my workmates shows how few people know about the scale of the problem.

  10. Len Steele said:

    Detecting a forged £1 coin is really easy.

    I manufacture a small piece of test equipment.Just place the sensor
    on the coin and it indicates if it is valid.

    The actual patent goes back some 30 years its just found a new application.

  11. i got told that the pound coins with the diamond shapes going around the side are fake is this true?

    • Hi, if you mean the ‘bridges and pathways’ pattern (ie, like the criss-cross pattern on the middle coin in this picture), then no. That pattern appears on coins minted between 2004-2007. But that’s not to say that there aren’t going to be fakes of those coins though – quite a few people have mentioned here that they’ve seen fakes of the ‘bridge series’ of pound coins.

  12. Phil Reynolds said:

    I had a fast food restaurant try to pass me a ghastly fake yesterday. The colour was the real giveaway – it was more like a brass 3d bit than that you would expect for a £1 coin. The edge was particularly ghastly – poor milling, barely-there and smudged lettering. I didn’t check it any more thoroughly and rejected it. They got me a real one.

    (For those unfamiliar, 3d in old money was equivalent to 1.25p in new – banks will still take four 3d bits as 5p. However, the coin is 12-sided, not round.)

    • Phil Reynolds said:

      Another two, at the same time, from the same outlet. One had a dragon back but DECUS ET TUTAMEN in a poor font on the edge. Other had a leeks back, good (and correct!) edge but very poor stamping on the faces. Both were replaced before I left the counter. Colour wasn’t bad this time.

  13. Rich Baxter said:

    I haven’t spotted many fakes, but I did get a dodgy 1994 pound in my change from the self service till in Marks and Sparks this morning.

    The reverse is the lion in border which is correct, but it’s a bit off centre and doesn’t line up with the heads side. It’s pretty much the right colour, but it has a very bad quality edge inscription (and the wrong one for the year).

    Overall I’d say it’s a medium quality fake. I’ve seen much better ones where only the edge inscription really gave it away.

  14. nicola kelly said:

    hi iv just got a 2008 £1 but some of the lettering is missing and the date, iv checked the queens head and back and they are alined and it also has cross and lettering round the edges is this fake thanks for your help

  15. Hi Nicola

    I am a bit confused because you said that ”the lettering and date where missing” but that you had ”just got a 2008 £1”, how do you know that it’s a 2008?

    In 2008 The Mint released two different reverse designs of the £1 coin, the Royal arms and the Royal shield. The Royal shield has also been released in 2009.

    If you have a 2008 coin with the date and lettering missing then I would be very intrested to see the coin or at least a picture.

    • nicola kelly said:

      hi andy i can send you a photo of it if you give me your email my email is nicolakelly1@yahoo.co.uk

      • Hi Nicola, I’ve uploaded the pictures you emailed earlier. They can be found here and here.

        I’ll have to say, it’s very difficult to say for definite as those pictures are quite blurry indeed. But I can see what you’re saying about the date being missing.

        If the rest of the coin is clearly stamped with a good colour and a crisp edge inscription, it **might** be a rare mis-strike / error (and I would assume valuable to a collector!). But there’s a good chance it’s a fake too. I know there was a batch of 2008 20p coins produced without a date, but I’ve not heard about any £1’s with the same error.

        Any chance you can get any better pictures? If your camera has a ‘macro’ mode (usually shown by a tulip symbol) or a document/text mode, then you might get a better picture. :-)

  16. I’ve noticed that some £1 coins have a black ‘bloom on them that’s impossible to remove ,if I recieve them in my change I ask for it to be changed.Another anomaly I’ve founf is the coin is ‘dished’and accompanied by other rough casting/stamping problems.


  17. Sean Burridge said:

    Im a taxi driver and guess have an advantage of collecting coins at random.

    I’ve become a ‘fake’ geek too and can spot one easily now.

    Approx 80% of all coins I get are fakes, and obvious ones too.

    I think that’s quite a concern for the economy!!

  18. David McCorkell said:

    Ihave a one pound coin which has a head exactly the same on both sides
    could it be real

  19. The Dark Numismatist said:

    It may be real, but not legal tender. It sounds like a double headed coin specially adapted from two one pound coins. They are very cleverly made and it is very difficult to see where the two sections have been joined so they appear to be a genuine mis-strike. You often see them on eBay for £7 or £8 and may be bought by conjurers or people who like such novelties. It should have the same date on both sides.

  20. hi all
    i have a pound coin with the queens face on the front and she is wearing a necklace but on the back there is a picture of a skull any ideas if it is fake also there is no writing around the edges either

  21. The Dark Numismatist said:

    Hi Beth,
    Your coin is a Gibraltar one pound coin which was issued to commemorate the discovery on Gibraltar of a neanderthal skull in 1848. It certainly looks a bit gruesome but is genuine.

  22. Hi all,I think I may have a fake £2 coin.On the wording around the side the letter “i” is missing from the word “standing”.Could this be a mis-strike or something else genuine?

  23. hello everyone,
    A friend of mine has a £1 coin from 1983 but it does not bear the Queen’s head on one of the sides.Could this be fake?thank you

    • The Dark Numismatist said:

      It could be fake, I do have several pound coins dated 1983 which are fakes, but most likely it is a genuine coin as the Royal Mint on its website states that it produced 443,053,510 one pound coins in 1983 exactly as you have described.

  24. Hello all, i got a pound coin that look like any other i droped it on the kitchen floor and it fell in two halfs it has a 1p inside and is held together with a magnet anyone had one of these’s before

    • The Dark Numismatist said:

      I’ve got two of these. They are props for magic tricks. The idea is that you show your audience two coins, the one pound and the one penny, taking care not to reveal the gaping hole in the back of the one pound coin and the pound coin design on the back of the penny. Then by various methods you can make the penny ‘vanish’ by fitting it inside the pound. Even very close inspection after it has disappeared will not reveal where the penny went (unless somebody checks the die axis alignment front to back which will invariably be incorrect as the penny enters the pound randomly). It is very effective and works because there is a magnet in the pound and ever since the early 90s pennies have been made of copper plated steel. Costs about £20 to buy new from a magic dealer when it will come with instructions for various ways of executing the trick. Sometimes they appear on eBay and go for anything up to £30.

      • Thanks you for the quick reply mystery solved. This is also the second one i have had passed to me in change i had one about three years ago gave it to my son and he spent it by accident didnt think i get another thanks again trev

  25. Hello There,

    Can anyone help please? I have been looking for the fault which is on the 1995 one pound coins. When you read the wording around the coin, in some case’s the apostrophie is missing and looks like I M instead of I’M,currently I have a handful of these. But, the main reason I have written here is I also have a 1997 pound coin Welsh Dragon all the coins I have looked at have been dated 1995. This coin appears sightly bronzed is this a fake? Appreciate any comments thank you.

    • Your 1997 Welsh Dragon is a fake with wrong reverse design for the date.

      The missing apostrophe on the others could just be wear. If everything else looks right on those, eg both sides align the same way, good detailing and clear & regular edge lettering and of the correct font, then the “missing apostrophe” ones are more likely genuine with just some wear. Nine times out of 10 a fake will be fairly obvious and you shouldn’t have to look too closely at small details to be able to tell.

      • The Dark Numismatist said:

        The I’M fault is fairly common and mainly applies to coins dated 1985. I think it appeared when damage to the die occurred. The apostrophe would be a very small piece of relief metal which would wear and shear off, thereby producing coins without the apostrophe until the fault was spotted by the machine minder. I have noticed quite a few in circulation but have never found them interesting enough to save. Presumably it can occur on other dates with the Welsh legend. There is somebody selling them on eBay at the moment but I don’t think that anybody’s buying. Loftybob is completely correct about your other coin. It is a fake, and a mule too, which makes it a little more interesting.

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