This odd looking and quite distinctly flawed 2017 dated £1 coin appeared in circulation in about November 2018. About eight visually very similar coins are known. All came to light within weeks of each other and the two I examined were accepted as genuine coins by bus drivers – they were only noticed during counting and coin processing. Conclusion – they are forgeries and fairly sophisticated ones at that! That makes these the first fake new £1 to hit the streets.
In the large pictures above, the coins look quite obviously wrong, but in-hand they are actually quite convincing, even when among normal genuine £1 coins.
A neodymium slide contains powerful neodymium magnets mounted at 45 degrees. They are used primarily as a means of testing silver coins. All non-ferrous metals are affected slightly by the magnets contained within the slide and the speed at which they slide over the magnets can help identify coins made of alloys with properties that are not as they should be.
The two coins I examined both slid down with very slight resistance. Known genuine £1 coins don’t slide at all, they stick firmly to the magnet (due, I suspect to the pure nickel layer on the centre part of the coin).
Here’s a video of the neodymium slide test (turn on subtitles for captions).
I performed X-ray fluorescence tests on both coins. X-ray fluorescence is a non-destructive analysis method which gives a reading showing the metal make-up (alloy) of any metal object.
The centre pill tested as 75.5% copper, 10.5% nickel, 14.7% zinc and the outer ring as 74.1% copper, 20% nickel, 5% zinc. Both pieces of genuine coins should be 70% copper, 5.5% nickel, 24.5% zinc and on genuine coins the centre is plated in pure nickel to give it it’s silver colour.
The XRF machine should ignore the first few microns of potential plating. However, where there is thick plating, readings can be inaccurate due to the influence of the plating on the XRF reading.
Both of the cu-ni-zn alloys mentioned above should, as far as I can tell, be silver coloured. I wondered if the gold part of the coin is plated (and confirmed that it is, following destruction, see below). There are a few silver coloured specks on the gold part, e.g. above the letter ‘E’ in ‘ELIZABETH’.
The owner of the two coins allowed me to destroy one of them, and with great pleasure I took a hack saw to it! I was expecting the coin to be made of one piece of metal, but after cutting through the outer ring and almost completely through the centre pill I was surprised when the pill came lose and with some wiggling I was able to remove the centre pill and to bend both pieces slightly to reveal their core metal.
The core of the outer ring is indeed a silver coloured metal which has been plated with some kind of gold coloured metal. A genuine outer ring should be brass coloured all the way through. The centre pill is silver coloured all the way through. A genuine centre pill should be made of a brass core plated in nickel.
For more info on fake £1 coins and other fake UK coins, see my friend Steve B’s website: http://www.thefakepoundcoindatabase.co.uk/
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.