Britain Unveils A New 1-Pound Coin

Mar 18, 2015

The Royal Mint in the U.K. has unveiled a new 1-pound coin that it says will be the world's most counterfeit-proof coin.

The 12-sided coin, which is set to be released by 2017, will still feature a likeness of Queen Elizabeth II on one side. But the "tails side" will have a new design representing the four symbols of the U.K.: an English rose, a leek for Wales, a Scottish thistle and shamrock for Northern Ireland. They emerge from a single stem within a crown.

The new design was created by a 15-year-old schoolboy, David Pierce, who beat out more than 6,000 competitors. Other U.K.-themed entries included cups of tea, maps and a Rolling Stones logo.

The Independent says the new design is a break in tradition from the round, brass-colored coin that has been used for more than 30 years.

Besides a new look, the Royal Mint says the pound coin has a number of features to make it the most secure coin in the world. That includes the 12 sides, bi-metallic construction of two colors, and anti-counterfeiting technology that can be authenticated by high-speed, automated detection.

The Royal Mint estimates that about 3 percent of the 1-pound coins in circulation are counterfeit, a number that can rise as high as 6 percent in some parts of the U.K.

The Independent says the decision to replace the 1-pound coin came after police broke up an international smuggling ring that had flooded Britain with at least 30 million pounds (roughly $45 million) worth of fake coins.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.