For as long as there has been currency, there have been counterfeiters. With 2.5% of the £1 coins in circulation in 2015 estimated by the Royal Mint to be counterfeit, protecting the currency from fraudsters was the major motivation for changing the design of the coin.
The new coin is bimetallic, has milled edges and micro-lettering, and features a hologram-like “latent image” that changes from a ‘£’ symbol to the number ‘1’ when seen at different angles.
It’s a far cry from the methods used to protect from counterfeiting in the past, as a delve into the Barclays archives shows.
1. Coin shears
Coin shears and other filing implements could be used by criminals to “steal” gold from coins while still using the reduced coin as currency. The heavy scissors also had a use on the right side of the law – banks would clip counterfeit coins to render them useless, as these examples of half-crowns, sixpences and shillings from the early 19th century show.