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.

If you’ve read the previous two parts in this ‘series’, you’ll probably be quite familiar with common mistakes that counterfeiters make. It never really occured to me before, but perhaps fakers intentionally make ‘errors’ so that they can distinguish their own dodgy currency lying around from the pukka stuff that can be easily spent / laundered / exchanged / banked etc…? You’ll perhaps see what I mean later.

Anyway, remember, about 1 in every one hundred poind coins is supposedly counterfeit, so you’ve probably had quite a few in the past and just never noticed… read on…!

Example #9:

Fake Coin #9

As far as fake pound coins go, this isn’t bad. Actually, none of the fakes in this post are particularly poor. They could all be quite easily passed on.

Here we’ve got a year 2000 coin (at least that’s what it’s stamped). We should find ourselves a nice Welsh dragon on the reverse. Oooh, we do! So far so good.

We can also expect a Welsh “PLEIDIOL WYF I’M GWLAD” inscription. Ahhh. This is where it goes a bit Pete Tong and we get a quite poorly inscribed “DECUS ET TUTAMEN” instead. The edge is only partially milled and the ‘cross crosslet’ or ‘Llantrisant Mint Mark’ is pretty much totally missing. That’s the little cross that sits between the word “TUTAMEN” and “DECUS” before you ask! Oh, you can see a picture of this at the end of the post…


Example #10:

Fake Coin #10

I would probably say that this is one of the better quality fakes I’ve seen! The front and back are quite clearly stamped. In fact, there’s a surprising amount of detail on both sides. It’s not been stamped totally centrally, but it’s 99.9% there. You can see the slightly raised edge on the reverse side at the top right which shows it’s not quite perfect.

Moving on. You can see it’s another year 2000 coin, this one has got a Celtic cross on the reverse though, not the Welsh Dragon that a genuine would have. It also has “DECUS ET TUTAMEN” incorrectly inscribed instead of “PLEIDIOL WYF I’M GWLAD”. But again, it’s the poor quality of the inscription that alerts you that this is a counterfeit coin.

Example #11:

Fake Coin #11

Probably the worst of the bunch. The colour is a bit too dark and makes it just look suspicious. I’m sure most people would think that it’s been discoloured naturally however.
1989 was a Scottish year and had a thistle on the reverse, which only goes to prove that this ’89 Ornamental Royal Arms backed coin isn’t legit.

We should have had “NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT” as the inscription, but yet again the fake reads “DECUS ET TUTAMEN“. I guess this is the phrase most people associate with one pound coins, regardless of the image on the reverse. It’s very poorly inscribed and only half the coin has a milled edge.

Last one then…

Example #12:

Fake Coin #12

This just looks a bit dodgy! It’s difficult to explain and doesn’t really come across in the scan above, but I guess it’s the detailing on front and back which don’t look quite as sharp as it should and the colour being very slightly off.

It’s been stamped 1997 and the Three Lion reverse does match correctly. Shock!

Most fakes seem to have “DECUS ET TUTAMEN” inscribed around the edge, so you’d almost expect this to have it too. It’s a fakers favourite and it would also be the correct inscription after all. Rather oddly then, this one has the Welsh “PLEIDIOL WYF I’M GWLAD” instead. Hmmm, odd! It’s this coin that made me think that perhaps these mistakes aren’t always intentional. The edge has been well milled, but the lettering is pretty dire in places.

…and finally…

Fake Coin Stack

I probably should of thought out this part a little more, but not to worry! The pic above has got all the coins I mentioned above, sandwiched inbetween 2 genuine coins for comparison. The first stack shows the coins lined up with the ‘cross crosslet’ I mentioned earlier. The second stack is rotated slightly to better show the quality of the lettering.

In order then, the coin stack is:

1st (top): Genuine 1985
2nd: Example #12
3rd: Example #11
4th: Example #9
5th: Example #10
6th (bottom): Genuine 2001

I probably won’t do another of these again (“hurrah” you say!), or at least not this angle for quite a long while. Mainly because I’ve again run out of hooky quids and also as I’ve covered most of the main ways of spotting them over the last few posts. I haven’t really covered coin weight, simply because I haven’t got an accurate enough way to measure it!

Hopefully that little lot has been mildly interesting. Good job I gave a geek warning before I began isn’t it! ;-)

Comments on: "Fake One Pound Coins – Part Three" (129)

  1. Tony Hodson said:

    Managed to take some photos/scans of the coin, not sure how to make available for you to view, can you advise?

    Thanks Tony

  2. Good stuff, can you pop them on an image hosting site, like Imageshack and post the links (like comment #46)?

  3. Tony Hodson said:

    Just as a reminder why I think this one is a fake…
    1. 1997 coins should have the 3 lions not the royal arms as on mine
    2. on rotating the coin the queens head is set to a different orientation to the reverse of the coin (can’t show this on the photo but it is different by about 15 degrees.
    3. the text on the edge decus et tutamen is very very faint and the u of decus, t of et, and tutn of tutamen have all been rubbed off, as has the cross.

    Thanks Tony

  4. Interesting. I have a 2005 pound coin that I thought looked funny. On closer inspection, it is probably the worst fake ever. I found another 2005 coin and compared it. The picture is lacking detail and clarity, the stamping is off centre and not flat, causing a raised rim and it is the wrong colour.

    Thats when I looked at the side. I had never realised that they were meant to have lettering on. The squigles seemed fine-until I read your article.

    Then, looking back at my two coins, I realised the other one had squigly writing on too! I was comparing a fake to better fake!

    On reflection, the better fake was pretty good. Slightly too yellow, and also slightly off centre, but pretty damn good all the same.

    I am now off to complain to the guy who gave them to me (and tell him that his fake mint is pretty good)…

  5. Well, its no surprise that were in a recession then, now if I could just perfect the outer edge I could ride out the storm ;)

  6. Interesting stuff! I’m surprised there’s little mention of weight – is this because the counterfeiter usually gets it right?

    A handy way of checking is with a balance, or scales. A 50p (8g) and a 10p (6·5g) coin should equal a £1 (9·5g) and a 20p (5g) at 14·5g.

  7. I’ve put up a page with some that I’d found here:


  8. upoun reading this artical i was shocked to hear there are so many fake pound coins. but i have heard nothing more since last year. whats shocking is shops are unaware of these coins and it’s letting these people get away with it. if a machein is refuseing coins they are just swaping them for new ones if this keeps up 1 out of 10 coins will be fake. it’s not on and whats worse is the quality is getting worse. my questoin is what can we do about it ?

  9. Mr Godfrey Harrison said:

    I have found some £1 coins have a ribbon type pattern on the edge of the coins not lettering, the coins are dated 2005/6.Please can you advise me if these are fake coins thank you.

  10. It is impossible to give an answer without seeing pictures. In 2004-2007 the Royal Mint released a series of one pound coins with images of British bridges on the reverses and these are the coins with the ‘ribbon’ type edges – they are officially called ‘rivers and pathways’. In my experience the first three designs have been counterfeited, but as yet I have not seen a 2007 forgery.

  11. I’ve just googled this site, and thought i would add my two cents worth. I was given what we thought was a fake two pound coin (£2) last night at my local. The barmaid noticed it didn’t sound right, and carved the edge off with a fifty pence piece. It felt, sounded, and looked like printer’s metal, and I was able to warp it with my fingers. I wish i had taken it back now, so sorry but no photos.

  12. I liked reading this article. I just want to point out that there is an error on example 10. The edge inscription is not supposed to be “DECUS ET TUTAMEN”. It is supposed to be the Welsh “PLEIDIOL WYF I’M GWLAD”. So this also tells us the coin is a fake.

    • Hi Jas, it’s nice to hear that you enjoyed reading the posts. You are quite right about the error in example 10, so I’ve corrected this – thank you for pointing it out.

  13. I cant find my coin on there, i’m sure its a fake. it has the queens head like normal but sais “GIBRALTAR 2000” on the left side but “ELIZABETH II” on the other. it also has a ring around it which i found unusual. Turning it to its side there’s a ridge of lines – no latin at all… odd?
    THEN turning it to the “tail’s” side, there’s 3 castle tower’s ON TOP OF A RIBBON SAYING “montis insignia carpe” , does anyone know if this is fake or real…? thanks in advance

  14. loftybob said:

    I wonder where a casual collector of these (say with a dozen or so examples) stands legally?

    Given that Sub-section 16(2) of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981 says:

    16(2) It is an offence for a person to have in his custody or under his control, without lawful authority or excuse, any thing which is, and which he knows or believes to be, a counterfeit of a currency note or of a protected coin.

    Does merely collecting them for one’s own curiosity, with no intention whatsoever of either selling them or passing them on, constitute a reasonable ‘excuse’ as referred to in 16(2)?

    My guess is that this is a bit of a grey area. Has anyone had this clarified beyond doubt?

    • I don’t know is the short answer, as far as I know that hasn’t been clarified “beyond doubt”.

      I would very much hope that any action would be taken against the creators of fake coins, rather than the unlucky folk who just happen to notice them in their change. Besides, aren’t ‘casual collectors’ actually doing other unsuspecting people a favour by NOT knowingly passing them off as legit and effectively taking them out of circulation?!

      • loftybob said:

        I agree entirely. Anyone taking these out of circulation is in effect doing the banks/Royal Mint/shopkeepers and everyone else a favour.

        I’ve been amazed at the variety of designs copied, but having said that there seem to be reverse designs that are faked most often, and they seem to be the Celtic cross, Ensigns Armorial of UK and English Three Lions. I don’t know whether anyone has tried to compile stats of which designs turn up faked most often?

        It also strikes me that having different designs would mean they would be more likely to be passed off as legit in the first instance; a bag full of the same design would obviously arouse suspicion. It makes you wonder whether different forgers might be ‘sub-contracted’ to make different designs which are then channelled to a central location to be mixed and then distributed ‘into the system’?

  15. I have a bridges 2004 pound with the ribboned pathways and river pattern on the edge. However the pattern is quite off centre, and doesn’t seem to match up at the dot. Is this common or sign of a forgery?

    I would post pictures but I have no scanner, and will probably spend it before I get a chance to take a pic.

  16. loftybob said:

    Some rather geeky tips for finding fake pounds:

    1. Check for ‘chocolate money’ slightly fuzzy appearance

    2. Check for rough edge lettering and whether the alignment head/reverse matches

    3. Knowing the design that goes with the date is useful as these frequently mismatch on fakes. Learning these is not as hard as it looks, as the designs stick to the same 5 year cycle, always in the order UK, Scottish, Wales, Irish, English.

    Last digit of date goes with a particular country’s design in these 5 year cycles:

    3/8 = UK (Ensigns, Shield, Ensigns, Ensigns, Ensigns, Shield)
    4/9 = Scottish (thistle, thistle, Lion, Lion, Forth bridge)
    5/0 = Welsh (leek, leek, dragon, dragon, Menai Straits bridge)
    6/1 = Irish (flax, flax, C.cross, C.cross, Egyptian Arch Newry)
    7/2 = English (oak, oak, 3 lions, 3 lions, Millenium Bridge Gateshead)

    Having an idea of the above allows you to quickly check whether the date matches the design.

    4. Look out for the most common faked reverses, which seem to be Celtic Cross, Ensigns Armorial of UK, English 3 lions, Scottish Lion Rampant and Welsh Dragon. Most common dates seem to be in the range 1989 to 2004 with many around 2000 to 2003 – admittedly this is a big range but it saves looking too closely at the earliest in the pound series (1983 to 1988) which seem to be more rarely faked.

    Curiously, all the ‘Scottish Lion Rampant’ fakes I’m aware of have been with the wrong date (should be 1994). Also used on 1999 pound but this was not issued for general circulation.

    I warned this post would be geeky!

  17. Loftybob,

    I’ve been collecting ‘fakes’ since the start of 2009 as a by-product of collecting one of each design/year for my children as a keepsake.

    As far as fakes go, I now have 33 with 7 others being legitimate Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey coins which seem to turn up on a reasonably frequent basis.

    I was starting to compile stats for which coins tended to be copied more often and have noticed, as most others have, that it seems to be the Celtic Cross, Welsh Dragon and 3 Lions designs in particular, with the dates ranging usually from 1990 to the start of the ‘Bridges’ series.

    With the Bridges I notice that these seem, in my area anyway, less frequently copied and in my ‘collection’ I currently just have the two.

    The forgers rely heavily on peoples ignorance as to the designs, year dates and inscriptions as the Scottish Thistle fake tends to usually have the ‘Decus’ inscription rather than the ‘Nemo’ one.

    The Queens head also is a giveaway when identifying as I tend to say that the forged coins have a ‘soft’ look about them, ie the finer details on the Queens head sort of blend in and arent defined (and despite fear of treason) the Queen looks fatter on the forgeries.

    Also on the 3rd portrait of the queen, the designers initials are under the head, IRB, but on forged coins these are either missing or indistinct blobs.

    God, I’m also a coin ‘nerd’

  18. When I first heard about fake pound coins I looked through every one that passed through my hands, excited about trying to find a fake. Today I finally got my first one and it was just annoying, because I am now really poor and needed the money! So I took it back to the shop that gave it to me and made them swap it for a real one.

    The fake was quite good – a 2002 coin with the correct (3 lions) picture and pictures were fairly well-aligned, maybe a few degrees off if at all. But the edge milling was all wrong and the inscription (while the correct DECUS ET TUTAMEN +) was wonky, poorly spaced and the + was more like a ‘. Part of me wishes I’d kept it, bet the shop just put it back in the till.

    I know fake coins are meant to feel heavier but the coin they replaced it with is definitely real and feels heavier and more substantial than the fake to me.

    Think I will keep the next one I come across!

  19. Ok, heres a thought.

    If we are ‘collecting’ fake pound coins and are therefore taking them out of circulation for the good of others and have no intention of using them ourselves, then surely we are providing a legitimate service to the Mint Office.

    By us all joining forces and sharing information that others can read and become more aware of the situation then this can only be a good thing.

    This blog site was my starting point for finding out about the fake pound ‘scene’ but I’ve found that collecting them has become addictive and although I’m slightly out of pocket because of it, in a way it’s a bit of fun and an interesting subject.

    I’m going to create my own website with my own ‘fake’ info on and I invite you all to come take a look but would always ask that you always still refer to this blog as well, as its what I consider to be the parent site.

    I will post up the website address shortly.

  20. Ok, thought I’d set it up as a specific ‘Fake Pound Coin’site.

    Type into your browser http://fakepoundcoin.blogspot.com/

    I’m on holiday for a few days but aim to add stuff when I get back. Feel free to post comments.

    • Great idea, I have been to your site and posted a comment. It will be good to have a site dedicated to the study of fake pounds.

  21. Can anyone help me with a couple of questions:

    Firstly, has anyone seen a mule (obverse date and reverse not matching) of any pound coin from 2004 onwards, i.e. from the start of the Bridge series? I’ve not yet found any, though they were common with dates up to 2003 and seem especially frequent with dates between 1989 to 1997.

    Secondly has anyone attempted to compile a list of all the known fake pound mules? D.J.Cane published a list of 26 mules in Feb 2000 edition of ‘Coin News’ and I know of at least 11 further varieties. Five reverses are known for each of the dates 1993 and 1996, in addition to what the reverse actually should be! My guess is that the total figure for known mule varieties could be rather more than this 37 – can anyone confirm?

    • I’ve not seen a list of mules, but then I can’t say I’ve looked for one either! Here are my stats though, out of 29 fakes collected…

      14 of which have an incorrect obverse/reverse/edge combination, but only two of those had the same error. The full list is:
      1989 – DECUS ET TUTAMEN – Royal Arms
      1992 – DECUS ET TUTAMEN – Thistle Coronet
      1993 – DECUS ET TUTAMEN – Celtic Cross
      1993 – DECUS ET TUTAMEN – Welsh Dragon
      1996 – DECUS ET TUTAMEN – Lion Rampant
      1996 – PLEIDOL WYF I’M GWLAD – Welsh Dragon
      1997 – DECUS ET TUTAMEN – Lion Rampant
      1997 – DECUS ET TUTAMEN – Royal Arms
      1997 – PLEIDOL WYF I’M GWLAD – Three Lions
      1997 – PLEIDOL WYF I’M GWLAD – Three Lions
      2000 – DECUS ET TUTAMEN – Celtic Cross
      2000 – DECUS ET TUTAMEN – Welsh Dragon
      2001 – DECUS ET TUTAMEN – Royal Arms
      2001 – PLEIDOL WYF I’M GWLAD – Welsh Dragon

      Two things surprised me there. 1) That only 14 had mismatching errors, as I had thought it would be much more than that. 2) of the remaining 15 coins, seven of them were 2003 coins – so that seems like quite a popular year for fakery.

      I also have one other coin dated 2005 that I suspect to be a fake – but that appears to be a very, very good copy indeed if it isn’t genuine. I might try and scan that one day to see what other peeps think.

      • Thanks C, that’s very useful.

        A correction to my earlier post, ignoring differences in edge letter types, Cane listed 28 ‘mules’ in his Feb 2000 article, not 26 as I had posted above.

        Your list gave me an additional 3 mules which brings the total known to me now to 42 mule varieties, plus 2 where the reverse is correct but the edge legend is wrong for the date (2000 Welsh Dragon/Decus and 1997 Three Lions/Pleidiol). This ignores any differences in the style of edge lettering, which Cane divided into 10 different types at the time of his article 9 years ago.

        You’re right that 2003 is a common date for fake pounds, that year and 2001 Celtic Cross are the most frequent that I’ve seen.

        The Welsh Leek design (1985/1990) doesn’t seem to have been used on any mules (either as a obverse or reverse), though a very few fakes dated 85 and 90 with correct reverse have been found by one collector I know.

        As you might expect, Royal Arms seems to be the reverse found on the most number of different dates, known on fake pounds dated 1982,83,88,89,91,92,93,95,96,97,98,2001,2002,2003 (only 4 of those being the correct dates!)

        There may be many more types; I’ve not been looking into this for as long as other peeps.

  22. Its actually supposed to be one in forty

    How the hell are people/businesses supposed to be identify these tough. People who handle hundreds of the things in the course of a day can hardly be expected to examine every coin and check it against some “anorak list” Having to do so for banknotes is bad enough (especially in Scotland/NI/IOM/CI where there are multiple types) Its high time the Royal mint withdrew all pound couns from circulation and came out with something more secure. While theyre at it get rid of the 1 and 2 p coins and regional banknotes as well whats the point in this day and age ?

  23. Hello,
    It feels a bit like digging up a very old post…
    So I have a 2005 Menai Suspension Bridge coin that presents a mistakes. There is a sludge of metal at the bottom of it that made me thought it was an imperfect one that escaped the Royal Mint’s inspection but upon finding your website I wonder if it isn’t fake.
    Everything else is there, the IVB inscription under the Queen’s bust, the lines on the side, the bust is a tad slightly off centre if I look very closely but I wonder if it’s not my eyes playing a trick on me from too much looking at the coin :D
    If you want a picture, let me know!

  24. The Dark Numismatist said:

    Hello ????

    I would be interested in seeing a picture of your coin. There are quite a few fakes of that particular coin doing the rounds, but also there are many genuine coins that look suspicious too. I think that it is because the quality control at the Royal Mint has slipped.

    I have a 2006 Egyptian Arch coin with a huge piece of metal on the reverse – known as a ‘cud’ in numismatic circles – and I am still not certain whether it is genuine or a fake. Paste the link below to see it.


    • That’s a toughie. Scan it next to a genuine 2006 coin? Might be easier to compare the level of detail. But based on that picture though, I’d probably say I’m currently 60/40 in favour of it being genuine (as what little I can see of the edge looks good).

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