Her Majesty’s Treasury have unveiled the final images for the new £1 coin, which will begin circulation from March 2017. The £1 coin, which is currently a round piece produced in aluminum-zinc, is transitioning to a 12-sided shape. The composition will be bimetallic, with a golden-colored nickel-brass outer ring and a silver-colored nickel-plated center disc.
The new 2016-dated pound coin will be the most secure of its kind in the world in order to combat counterfeiters, who have produced an estimated 45 million fake £1 coins that are currently in circulation—at least 2.5% of all £1 coins in use. New security features include a hologram-like image that changes from a £ symbol to the number 1 when the coin is seen from different angles. It also has micro-lettering and milled edges.
Because of its different shape and metallic composition, the new coin will be a different weight and will not fit most existing vending machines, lockers, and shopping carts. These machines will all have to be updated, and that will not come cheap. The Automatic Vending Association estimates it may cost the industry up to £32 million to make sure the more than 500,000 vending machines across the U.K. are ready to accept the new coin. Businesses of all sizes are being encouraged to visit www.thenewpoundcoin.com to find out how to get ready for the change, and to download materials to help educate and train staff.
Between March and September (when the old coin will cease being legal tender), businesses will have to accept both the new and old coins. The Royal Mint is urging British businesses to get ready for the change, make sure their equipment can handle the coins, and train staff to recognize their security features. The original £1 coin was introduced into circulation in 1983, in order to transition the denomination from a paper banknote to a coin. The initial minting in the first year amounted to more than 440 million pieces. Since 1984, the coin has been issued with a variety of reverse designs and themes, each year representing one of the four constituent nations within the United Kingdom.
The new reverse design includes emblems of all four nations: the English rose, the Welsh leek, the Scottish thistle and the Northern Irish shamrock, all emerging from one stem within a royal coronet. The new design was created by David Pearce, who won a public design competition at the age of 15. The obverse includes the fifth coin portrait of Her Majesty the Queen, designed by Royal Mint coin designer Jody Clark and introduced in 2015.