Until the introduction of the dodecagonal bimetallic pound coin in March 2017, the round pounds had suffered extensively at the hands of counterfeiters. The problem began almost immediately after their introduction in 1983. Of the 1.5 billion or so round pounds in circulation in 2016 it was estimated that 3% were counterfeit. Now that the coins are no longer circulating, and ceased to be legal tender in October 2017, this might be a useful time to make some observations about these counterfeits before they are forgotten and lost. The counterfeits fall into several groups and in this first article I will make some brief observations about the lead alloy issues which were typically produced between 1983 and 2006.
This short note will present two documented cases of counterfeiting where sufficient information is included to allow surviving specimens to be identified.In the first case from Aberdeen in 1799, a counterfeit shilling with an Anne Obverse but with a 1720 reverse, the present author is seeking readers’ help in providing illustrations to complete the note.In the second case from Portsmouth in 1915, a counterfeit shilling dated 1877, the unusual choice of metal for the counterfeit and its grade when issued makes the surviving pieces stand out from typical counterfeits of the period.”
The extremely rare 1818 8 over 7 Half Sovereign is sometimes mis-identified due to existence of a variety that appears as if it could be due to a defect on the right side of the second 8, making that side of the coin appear fatter. There is however no trace of the upper side of the 7 which would be clear if this was indeed the rarity. This article illustrates the two types.
The long term effects of inflation have left us with a debased coinage that is overdue for reform. Our highest denomination circulation coin – the £2 piece – is no longer even capable of buying a copy of the Sunday Times or a Starbucks coffee. Lower denominations are fast becoming functionally useless. Rishi Sunak’s COVID-19 stimulus programme represents money printing on an unprecedented scale and this heaps further inflationary pressure into the system. Contactless payments are on the rise and without some drastic action coin use may become obsolete. What should the Royal Mint do? Perhaps go back to basics rather than deluging us with yet more “collectible” and “commemorative” offerings.
The topic that I address in my blog piece is to ask the question: “In the light of the current anti-racism protests, should numismatists be concerned about the obvious slave trading associations of certain British coins in their collections?”. I then go on to examine the origins of the metals which went into the “Elephant” and “Elephant & Castle” guineas (Royal African Company link) as well as the silver coins minted with SSC on the reverse (South Sea Company link).
Contemporary counterfeits of Victorian silver coins are typically cast from pewter-like metals, more rarely silver plated brass and very unusually silver. This note presents two shillings dated 1863 and 1882 which are of good weight and good silver and struck from hand engraved dies. The pieces also share the same obverse die. Being rare dates it is speculated that they are not contemporary but were manufactured in the third quarter of the twentieth century. This issue is compared with the halfcrowns that have been noted with dates 1861, 1866, 1868, and 1871 which were first discovered in the 1960’s during the change checking that accompanied decimalisation.
A small hoard of counterfeit silver coins with dates ranging from 1816 to 1845 will be described. All of the pieces fall into the category of cast white metal, tin, pewter or lead-alloy counterfeits and many have been mutilated by cutting, sometimes into pieces. That many of the fragments of the broken pieces have remained together suggests that this group might have been together since the middle of the nineteenth century.