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The coin that won’t die continues

Great Britain’s “round pound” £1 coin is no longer legal tender. It has been replaced by a ringed bimetal £1 with better security features. So, why is the old £1 continuing to be accepted at certain shops throughout Britain?


There is risk in accepting the now-obsolete coin, first introduced in 1983. Not only could it be challenging to redeem the coins either at banks or at the British Royal Mint at some later date, but there are significant numbers of counterfeits circulating. It has been estimated that about three percent or £50 million in value in fakes were in circulation at the time the coin was recalled. This is a primary reason why the coin has been replaced by a 12-sided ringed bimetal version of the same face value. The “round pound” or “the Maggie” officially ceased to be legal tender on Oct. 15. (The coin was dubbed “the Maggie” due to its lack of popularity when Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher first introduced it, replacing a paper note of the same value.)

Big-name retailers including Iceland Foods Ltd. (groceries), The Entertainer (toys) and The Food Warehouse are still accepting the older coin. So is the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal fund. According to the Nov. 12 Plymouth Herald newspaper, so are the shopping trollies at Tesco stores.

The Entertainer has 140 stores, while The Food Warehouse has somewhere north of 890 outlets. Each of these merchants has agreed that they will accept the now-obsolete £1 through the end of 2017.

Iceland Group Managing Director Tarsem Dhaliwal said, “We try to help our customers in any way we can, and the statistics tell us that very many people must still have old pound coins stashed away in their homes or cars. So we are happy to save them the trouble of changing these old coins at a bank by allowing them to spend round pounds in our stores until the end of the year.”

On Nov. 1, the BRM indicated that it estimated between 400 million and 450 million “round” £1 coins still in circulation. The mint didn’t sound particularly consumer-friendly when it issued a statement reading: “Businesses told us they wanted certainty on a cut-off date for the old pound coin, which is why we introduced the Oct. 15 deadline. While the majority of firms tell us they are ready, the small minority who choose to keep accepting the old coin will have to make their own arrangements with their banks.”

On Oct. 31, The Guardian newspaper reported, “Some high street banks will take old £1 coins as deposits into bank accounts, but they have different policies on how long they will continue do so and whether they will exchange old coins for new. The Royal Mint has said it is entirely up to individual banks. The new 12-sided, bimetal coin came into circulation on 28 March as part of efforts to cut back on counterfeits. The old pound, which had been in circulation since 1983, was one of the most counterfeited coins in the world.”

The £1 coin at first circulated alongside, then replaced, the Bank of England bank note of the same value on Dec. 31, 1984. Although the official date on which the note was no longer to circulate is March 11, 1988, the notes are still redeemable at the Bank of England offices.

There was initial resistance to the concept of a coin rather than a bank note being used for this denomination. Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey and the Royal Bank of Scotland continue to issue £1 bank notes, although the British coin circulates in these places as well.

The “round” £1 coin remains as legal tender on the Isle of Man. Official coinage of the Isle of Man are in Manx pounds. The Pobjoy Mint struck circulating as well as commemorative Isle of Man coins between 1971 and 2016. The 2017 circulation coinage was struck by the Tower Mint.

The Isle of Man introduced a circulating £1 coin five years earlier than did Great Britain, in 1978. The IOM also has a circulating £5 coin rather than bank note.

This article was originally printed in World Coin News. >> Subscribe today.

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