In Brief

When do old £1 coins go out of circulation?

How to spot a new pound coin that's worth £250

150318_12-sided_pound.jpg

With just under three weeks left to spend old £1 coins, an estimated £500m worth of them are still in people’s possession.

The new 12-sided £1 coin has been in use for more than six months as the Royal Mint eases it into circulation. During that period the old round one pound coin has been accepted as legal tender in shops, but that is set to end on 15 October.

 The Royal Mint’s chief executive, Adam Lawrence, told the Daily Star that since the start of September businesses have been encouraged to return any old pound coins to banks.

“Businesses and their frontline staff should, where possible, prioritise the new coin when giving customers their change” he said. However, there is no legal requirement for them to do. “Customers are entitled to ask for their change in any way they wish, but until 15 October, businesses can continue to give out the old coin,” he said.

Yet despite the impending deadline, The Sun says the phasing out of old £1 coins is taking longer than expected as businesses keep “wrongly returning” the new 12-sided coins.

According to cash management company Vaultex, half of the coins being returned to banks are the new version, meaning the deadline could have to be extended.

There is also concern that the necessary upgrades to self-service check-outs, ticket machines, lockers, vending machines and shopping trolleys will not be completed in time.

What happens if I find an old pound coin after the deadline has passed?

While the old pound coin will not be accepted in shops from 16 October, if you do happen to find one down the back of the sofa or in the piggy bank, you can still swap it for a new £1 coin at the bank or Post Office.

Any note or coin that has been in legal UK circulation in history can also always be swapped for one of an equivalent value at the Bank of England.

What is the difference between the old coin and new one?

Hailed "the most secure coin in the world", the first thing you'll notice about the new coin is that it's thinner and lighter than its predecessor – and a completely different shape.

The new £1 coin is 12-sided with 'one pound' inscribed around the edge. The coin it's closest-to looks wise is the £2 coin as it's also bimetallic, or made of two colours of metal. It has a silver centre made of a nickel-plated alloy, surrounded by a gold-coloured ring made of nickel-brass.

An updated portrait of the Queen appears on the coin – the fifth coin portrait of her reign. The portrait was chosen from anonymous submissions but happens to be by a Royal Mint engraver, Jody Clark.

On the "tails" side of the coin there's an English rose, Welsh leek, Scottish thistle and Northern Irish shamrock emerging from one stem inside a royal coronet. It's the winning image from a competition that saw over 6,000 entries and was designed by 15-year-old David Pearce.

What was wrong with the old coin?

The old pound coin was too easy to fake. The design hadn't changed since the coin was introduced in 1984 and over that time forgers became very good at producing fake £1 coins.

As a result one in every 30 coins, or 45 million in circulation in total, is now believed to be counterfeit.

The decision was made to tackle the problem by completely redesigning the coin, making it a lot harder to copy. The new 12-sided coin has numerous security features, including a hologram-like image that switches between a £ symbol and the number 1 depending on the angle you view it.

The Royal Mint has not shared details of the other security features but it includes a "hidden high security feature", according to sources.

Which £1 coins are worth more?

More than 200,000 'dummy' £1 coins distributed in the UK are selling for up to £250 online.

The trial coins were issued to businesses before the nationwide release on 28 March of the official new 12-sided coins.

The dummy versions were supposed to be used for calibrating coin handling equipment such as vending machines, so they would be ready for the change.

The pieces are marked with the word 'trial' and the Royal Mint says they do not have legal tender status.

But The Independent reports that it has not stopped them from being sought after online. eBay sales of the trial coins are starting at between £150 and £250, while one optimistic seller stuck a £10,000 price tag on their coin.

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