Millions of old pound coins missing

Aug 8, 2018


By Lyndsey Hall

Are you sitting on a gold mine? You can still exchange your old pound coins at the bank.

According to the Royal Mint, around 169 million old pound coins are still unaccounted for since the new hexagonal coin was launched in March 2017. The old round pound fell out of circulation and ceased to be legal tender in October of the same year, with around 138 million being melted down in order to make the new two-colour coins.

But nine months later millions of the old coins are yet to be returned to the Royal Mint, suggesting many people are sitting on a pile of gold with an expiration date. If you or your children have piggy banks, coin dishes or junk draws full of change, take some time to sort them into coin bags and take all your old pounds to your local branch to be deposited into your bank account. Check coat pockets, car cup holders, and down the sides of your sofa for old pound coins. Supermarket and gym bags are great places to look, anywhere you might use a pound coin for a trolley or locker, but consider keeping one for those places that haven’t quite caught up with the changes yet.

The new coin was introduced to combat forgery, as 1 in 30 of the old coins were estimated to be fake, costing the UK economy £2 million every year as the forgeries were removed from circulation. The new 12-sided coin is much more difficult to fake, with technology inside that can be electronically scanned by coin-counting machines, as well as a hologram and micro-lettering inside both rims.

The Royal Mint estimated that 85% of the 1.7 billion old coins (around 1.4 billon) would be returned during the six month transition period, based on the number of 50p pieces returned when the new design was launched in 1997-8. But nine months on 169 million remain in the wild.

A spokesperson for the Mint said: “We do not expect that all round £1 coins in circulation at the time of the transition will be returned to the Mint. Also, based on the returns of other demonetised coins we expect there to be some returns for a number of years to come as people find these.”

Could you be sitting on a gold mine?


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