Secrets of the new ‘Quid’

The new 12-sided British £1 coin – which came into circulation today (28 March 2017) to replace the existing £1 coin, of which about one in 40 are thought to be fake – incorporates some novel security features never before used when minting coins. These make them not just difficult to counterfeit but what one Bank of England official called, “The most secure coin in the world.”

As when any new coin is introduced into circulation, the shape, weight and width of the coin — together with the depth, shape and frequency of edge ridges — gives the coin a unique physical signature. But, for the first time, three additional security features have been included, two of which can be seen by the naked eye. The first is a minted image that works like a hologram, and the second takes the form of micro-lettering inside both rims. This is less easy to read without a magnifying glass.

The third feature is not just invisible … but apparently TOP SECRET.

All the people who produced the coin, The Royal Mint, will say on the subject is that it involves material inside the coin itself which can be detected only when it is electronically scanned by coin-counting or payment machines.

While this is no doubt true, the ‘feature’ is probably not ‘secret’ at all, and merely refers to the fact that all coins, like all banknote denominations, have their own electronic signature due to the conductivity of the materials from which it is made … in this case, a blend of nickel alloys. This is simple physics, and really not ‘secret’ at all.

Whatever the technology employed, though, Adam Lawrence, chief executive of the Royal Mint, says “The new pound coin has been designed to be fit for the future, using security features that aim to safeguard our currency, and currencies around the world, for years to come,”.


[Thanks to: Brian Milligan, Personal Finance reporter, BBC]

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[Photo Credit: The Royal Mint]


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