The 2014 trial £1 has now been confirmed as an authentic Royal Mint product. These coins were lent to members of the European Vending Association for testing of the basic shape. Approximately 20,000 were made and it isn’t yet known how many were returned.
(further information on the new £1 coin types can be found here)
The first basic analysis of the 2014 ‘Trial Piece’ £1 coin –
Many don’t realise that a trial 2014 new-shape £1 even exists! I didn’t know either until a couple of weeks ago. The vending machine companies that were supplied new £1 coins for testing were required to return all trial coins by the end of 2017 and as that date has now passed I suspect it may be the reason that a few of these anomalies have appeared for the first time – the vending machine companies safe in the knowledge that the return date has been and gone and the coins no longer belong to the RM (which may or may not actually be true, especially in the case of the 2014 coins if they were supplied unintentionally).
The coin I examined was said to have been found in a sealed bag of the more common 2015 dated trials, supplied direct by the Royal Mint. It’s quite different to the 2015 trial coins but I have no reason to doubt its authenticity. The coin has very sharp, repeated micro ‘ONE POUND’ incuse lettering inside the obverse rim, the main legend is sharply struck and well executed, the detail on the Ian Rank-Broadley bust of the Queen is very good as is the detail on the Royal Mint emblem on the reverse.
The coin has a very different feel in the hand, due to the very straight sides (circulation coins and 2015/2016 trial coins have slightly curved sides) and much sharper edge angles. It seems a little smaller and a bit chunkier. It has alternate milled and plain edge sections. The lowest edge section (under the date) is milled. The rim appears thinner between the top of the micro ‘ONE POUND’ and the edge of the coin. It is made of one piece of a brass coloured alloy.
On calibrated scales it weighed 8.85g (the official weight for the circulation coins is 8.75g. 2015 trial coins seem even lighter, often under 8.6g). The diameter is 22.00mm from flat to flat and 22.65mm from point to point (circulation coins are officially 23.03mm flat to flat and 23.43mm point to point). The thickness of the coin measured at the rim in a few places is 3.00-3.20mm (circulation coins are officially 2.8mm thick). Each milled edge section has 12 raised ridges (2015 trial coins and circulation coins have 13 raised ridges per section).
Comparison to the 2015 Trial Pieces:
Initially, I thought the 2014 trial coins would be very similar to the 2015 trial coins, i.e. perhaps a common reverse die, same collar, same portrait ‘punch’ of the Queen etc. The sharper edges, reduced size and reduced rim millings prove that the collar used for the 2014 coins is different to the later collar. But what about the portrait of the Queen and the reverse die? Those are different too! Evident not just from the reduced overall size of the coin, but also from the devices, which are measurably smaller on the 2014 coin. The Royal Mint crest is 12.1mm high, compared to 12.5mm on the 2015 dated trial coin. The Queen, measured from top of crown to lower tip of neck is 13.2mm on the 2014 coin, whereas she is 13.5mm high on the 2015 trial coins.
A few ‘error edge’ 2014 trial £1 coins have been seen on social media and on eBay. These coins have suffered what appears to be a partially engaged collar error resulting it three step-like horizontal ridges on the edge of the coin – the largest (highest) step very much resembles the slightly larger and rounded appearance the standard circulation new £1 coin. I wonder if these ‘edge errors’ were in fact deliberate and are as a result of experimentation with the size and shape of the coin.
There are also known weak strike versions of the coin which may be die adjustment pieces.
The Royal Mint have been asked for some information on the 2014 dated trial £1 coins, so hopefully they can clarify at what stage of production they were made and what purpose they served.
The Check Your Change admin is Mr C H Perkins, publisher of numismatic publications in printed and eBook format. Author of "Collectors' Coins - Decimal Issues of the UK" and other books on British coins and related subjects.