The first confirmed fake new £1 coins

By on 23rd December 2018

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.

Their specifications:

  • Size: 23.65mm 23.84mm flat to flat (normal is 23.03mm).
  • Weight: On calibrated scales one was 7.83g and the other 7.87g (official genuine coin weight is 8.75g. 8.7-8.8g seems a normal range).

Visual easy-to-spot differences compared to genuine £1 coins:

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.

  • They are noticeably larger in diameter than a genuine £1 coin, very easy to see when stacked/held next to a genuine £1 coin.
  • They are missing the micro writing around the edges of both sides (normally the heads side has ‘ONE POUND’ repeated x24 times and the reverse edge sections show the date with long incuse lines on either side).
  • They have a distinct raised line (die break) from the edge, through the ‘E’ of ‘ONE’, continuing through the ‘PO’ of ‘POUND’.
  • Detail in the centre of the reverse is very weak, the main part of the thistle is completely smooth.
  • The edge is different, the corners are sharper and the milled sections have 15 raised ridges, shown below (genuine coins have 13).
  • There are no ‘DP’ initials on the reverse. Genuine coins have ‘DP’ below the right of the crown.
  • The ‘hologram’ on the obverse doesn’t properly show alternating ‘1’ and ‘£’ symbols like genuine coins.
  • The truncation of the Queen’s neck has a very different shape, shown below.

15 raised ridges per milled section


Queen’s neck – Genuine coin on the left, fake on the right.

The neodymium slide test:

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).

XRF test:

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.

Other observations:

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’.

And finally, the destruction!

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.

Outer ring cut to show silver coloured centre.

Centre pill cut to show silver coloured centre.

For more info on fake £1 coins and other fake UK coins, see my friend Steve B’s website:

Posted in: Fakes

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.


  1. Tony Hall
    10th July 2019

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    On examination of a suspect £1 coin I have, using the checks on this site, I clearly have a fake £1 coin.

  2. Dr K.A. Rodgers
    11th December 2020

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    Any chance of an image of an obvious fake ex change of the new pound coin? I write for Coin News and am doing a brief introductory piece on fakes for beginners. Full acknowledgment will be given.

    kerry rodgers

    • CYC-Admin
      22nd December 2020

      Leave a Reply

      Sorry for late reply. I did have a quick look to see if I can locate the image without the watermark text. Or is the one on the website good enough?

  3. Dr K.A. Rodgers
    29th December 2020

    Leave a Reply

    I’d rather not use one with the watermark. Whatcha got?

    Christmas has kind gotten in the way. So I’ve been abit slow too.


  4. Stephen
    1st June 2022

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    I’m new at this, so I lack the is and is not’s.
    I’ve just picked up a £1 coin, it didn’t feel right but looked ok, except that I cannot see ‘pound coin nor year’.
    Checking against the one her I would have to say mine is good except for the said, year and words missing, so can any of you wise people help me please.

    • CYC-Admin
      3rd June 2022

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      Impossible to say without seeing it. Recent fakes are a bit better than the earliest ones.

  5. Stuart
    22nd March 2023

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    Regards fakes and vending machines, did the pre-2017 £1 fakes usually work with electronic coin discriminators? I am thankfully long out of the gaming industry (since 2001!) and we always left mech programming to the experts, but remember vividly the whole ‘two 20p “fruit machine*” tokens wrapped in foil’ incident which even fooled the latest MARS and Coin Controls mechs that a pound had been inserted (both companies long since merged) until desperate and rush reprogramming took place across the country. For various reasons, but since that time, these long obsolete tokens bizarrely hold their face value to this day. I imagine the ones that were a lump of lead wouldn’t have worked in any half decent coin mechanism.

    These days I suspect most remaining gaming machines are increasingly non-coin and those that do, are upgradable over-the-air (WiFi, 4G) when fakes are found. But, how are these new fakes (which we were all assured wouldn’t happen, and if they did wouldn’t work, ha ha!) getting on?

    *Until a year I can’t remember, but I think as late as the mid-late nineties, the law was that large wins were not allowed from amusement machines, so all wins over £3 had to be paid in industry standard 20p tokens, these be put back into the machine or in a pub, used at the bar to buy drinks etc…

    • CYC-Admin
      22nd March 2023

      Leave a Reply

      Thanks for the insight. I remember as a kid, hearing about wrapping coins in foil and even trying it in a phone box, which didn’t work at all. I’ve certainly seen some very good old round fake £1 coins where the brass alloy looks incredibly good. In fact I’m sure I must have had some XRF tested in the past, but I can’t remember what the alloy was made up of. I don’t know if the best fakes would have been accepted in vending machines etc. I have a feeling some less sophisticated mechanisms probably would have taken them.

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