Tag Archives: United Kingdom

Banknote from the Bank of England – One Pound from 1970-1977

I don’t know much about banknotes, but I had a chance to pick up this XXXX banknote for a song. I bought it at a “We Buy Gold” place from a fellow patron who was selling foreign silver and gold coins; the owner of the shop didn’t want the currency and let me make an offer for a dozen pieces of folding money that she had. Who knows how many hands it passed through before it got to me? I’m guessing it was saved as a souvenir by the seller’s father traveled around the world in the 1970’s.

I would grade this note in VF to EF condition.

The obverse is a lovely green on off-white pattern. It shows a young Queen Elizabeth II facing in 1/4 profile to the left. It has the legends “Bank of England” and “I promise to pay the Bearer on Demand the Sum of One Pound London For the Gov and Comp of the Bank of England”. There are what appear to be Tudor roses in the watermarks, as well as interesting spirograph patterns. The goddess Brittania is shown down and to the left of the queen’s portrait – she is holding out a sheaf of wheat and sitting with a shield at her hip emblazoned with St. George’s Cross.

Great Britain 1 Pound Note Obverse 1970-1977

Great Britain 1 Pound Note Obverse 1970-1977

On the reverse, the seal of the Bank of England (with Britannia again) is much larger and central to the pattern. A rectangle inscribed with “One Pound” overlaps the seal. There is a fair amount of white space in the upper right of the note.

Banknote - British One Pound from 1970-1977 Reverse

Banknote - British One Pound from 1970-1977 Reverse

Identification code: United Kingdom P-374g

Date: 1970-1977 (not dated, but that’s when this pattern was produced)

Printing Run/Mintage: unknown (but fairly large)

Country of origin: UK?

Size: I’m too lazy to measure right now…

Estimated Value: $4-6. It may still be valid currency in the UK (not sure about that).

1853 British Penny from the United Kingdom

This coin is in great shape – even though the scan doesn’t show it very well, there are traces of red mint luster in the fields.

On the obverse, there’s a young portrait of Queen Victoria facing to the left. The legend reads “Victoria Dei Gratia”.

On the reverse, the allegorical figure Brittania is shown holding a trident while sitting against a shield with the Saint George Cross on it. Below her, a long stemmed rose lays on its side. The legend reads “Brittania : Reg Fid : DEF :”.

1853 United Kingdom Penny Obverse

1853 United Kingdom Penny Obverse

1853 United Kingdom Penny Reverse

1853 United Kingdom Penny Reverse

Identification code: Great Britain KM-739

Date: 1853

Mint Mark: n/a – but (I think) this is a Type C date

Mintage: unknown (but fairly large)

Country of origin: England

Composition: Copper

Size: 34 mm

Weight: 18.8 grams

Other details: There were several varieties and types of errors that occur at the queen’s pony tail. This coin seems to be a Tie ribbon (Type3). I’ll try to post better pictures once I get the hang of photographing through a loupe.

As for identified varieties, this coin has the following going on. It has an ornamental trident, a colon after REG, and a far colon after FID. So, it is a Type 3 or an 1853:co.

Estimated Value: $50-70 (possibly more if it is the variety/error that I suspect). A hair ribbon variety sold on eBay for $516.25 in January of 2011.

How To Identify Counterfeit British £1 Coins

Fake British pounds are turning into a major problem in the United Kingdom. Up to 70,000,000 counterfeits are in circulation out of 1,474,000,000 £1 coins in use. That means anywhere from 2% to 5% of the circulating pounds are phony. £1 coins are widely used for everything from paying bus fare to making change at the supermarket, so there’s a good chance that the average citizen runs into multiple counterfeit £s in the course of a day.

Real Vs. Counterfeit UK Pounds

Real Vs. Counterfeit UK Pounds. Not so obvious, right?

Here are the diagnostics for identifying a counterfeit:

1) Check that the patterns on the obverse and reverse match for the year of mintage. There were 31 different designs in the last 27 years, so there are a lot of potential mis-matches. The Royal Mint has published a guide to obverse and reverse pairings from 1983-2010. Presumably, someone producing mismatched copies could argue that they did not actually counterfeit a circulating coin; this could be why so many false pairings have been produced.

2) The color of the coin should be a coppery gold. The color of forgeries is often noticeably lighter (from added aluminum or zinc content) or darker (from excess brass or bronze). Corrosion is also more common on counterfeits. On a related note, circulating coins rarely look like they came straight from the mint. A shiny 1985 £1 in your pocket change should set off alarm bells.

3) Check the edge lettering. The edge inscription changed over time, so forgers occasionally put the wrong one. I’ll put a list of the correct inscriptions in the comments section of this post. Pay special attention to the St. George cross – many fakes mess up this detail since it calls for a special engraving character.

4) The edge milling should be regularly spaced and of uniform depth. This security reeding is particularly difficult to counterfeit (based on the error rate – I haven’t tried ripping off Her Majesty myself).

5) Check the weight. Genuine UK £1 coins weigh 9.5 grams. While this may be tricky to measure at the cash register, some fakes have been reported to weigh noticeably light (6 grams or less).

6) The orientation of the obverse and reverse should be medallic. That is, if you hold the coin at 12 and 6 o’clock and spin the coin, the front and back should line up perfectly. The design doesn’t align properly on some fake lbs. If the obverse and reverse do not line up, that indicates misaligned dies. The Royal Mint does occasionally make this mistake, but it is rare on genuine coins.

Unfortunately, this counterfeiting problem is going to make error collecting challenging for United Kingdom pounds. I wonder – is anyone cataloging the counterfeits & forming a list of die varieties? These counterfeits may be collectible in their own right some day.

If you have scans of counterfeits, I’d love to see them. Please share links in the comments!

Decus et Tutamen

Portugese Angola 1969 2.5 Escudo

IMO, this coin is in VF 20 – VF 30 condition.

The obverse of the coin shows the Lesser Coat of Arms of Angola atop a horizontally stiped circle with a diagonal. The COA is a shield in 3 segments. On the left is a cross formed by estruchions, the bottom third shows waves, and the right shows an elephant over a donkey. On top is a castle with 5 turrets. The legend reads “Angola * 2$50”.

The reverse shows a sigil on a circle ontop of a cross. The legend reads “Republica Portuguesa” with the date at the bottom.

Angola 1969 2.5 Escudo Obverse

Angola 1969 2.5 Escudo Obverse

Angola 1969 2.5 Escudo Reverse

Angola 1969 2.5 Escudo Reverse

Identification code: Angola KM-77

Date: 1969

Mint Mark: n/a (Kings Norton)

Mintage: 5,000,000

Country of origin: England (Produced for Portugese Angola)

Composition: Copper Nickel

Size: 19 mm

Weight: unknown

Other details: This coin has one of the most counter-intuitive denominations of any coin I’ve cataloged. I mean, seriously? 2$50 is 2 1/2?

Shortly after this was minted, Portugal gave Angola its independence. That didn’t go particularly well. A 27 year civil war broke out between the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).

Estimated Value: $0.75-$1 in VF

The Frome Hoard May Be The Largest Roman Coin Cache Ever Discovered In England

This is what metal detectors dream of – a hobbyist found a massive jug of coins while searching through a farmer’s field outside of Frome.How big was it? Try 25 inches across, with about 350 lbs of coins inside. These 52,503 coins date from 253 to 293 AD and were valued at £320,250 (almost $500,000 at the current conversion rate of 1 pound sterling to 1.55 US$).

Dave Crisp With Coins From The Frome Hoard - courtesy of Somerset Libraries on Flickr

Dave Crisp Shows Off Coins From The Frome Hoard - courtesy of Somerset Libraries on Flickr

England has a clever system that encourages metal detection hobbyists to work with landowners and archaeologists to catalog and preserve their finds. When significant discoveries are made, specialists are called in to evaluate the loot and make a fair market offer for the items which is then split between the finder and the property owner. The Treasure Act 1996 prevents looting, encourages farmers to allow metal detectors on their land, and preserves the context that archaeologists need to understand many discoveries.

If the Art Fund is unable to raise funds to buy the hoard by February, some of these coins may end up on the open market. The coins are certainly affordable: the valuation works out to $9.50 per coin, on average. Most of the coins in the pot were low value bronze radiate or silver washed bronze. Despite their low denomination, many are from small series and all date from a time when the Roman Empire was starting to fall apart. The hoarde includes many scarce coins, including nearly a thousand produced by the little known emperor Carausius (a usurper who set up his own empire in Gaul and Brittain).

The hoard may have been buried as a ritual offering. Due to the location of the burial, the composition of the hoard, and the way that the ground was waterlogged in antiquity, experts do not think that it was meant to be recovered. Unlike other hoards (which are thought to be the buried savings of someone who never came back to recover their money), the Frome hoarde may have been a religious offering to boost fertility in the soil.

Engraving Portraits Can Be A Royal Pain

The coin commemorating the royal wedding coin of Kate Middleton and Prince William is stirring up controversy. Some pundits have suggested that the likeness on the coin is unflattering to the bride-to-be. Despite being approved by the Royal Couple, the critics may have a point.

What do you think? Compare the image on the coin to pictures of Kate Middleton:

Kate appears to have gained weight, while William looks older and larger than life.

The coinage of British monarchs often receives colorful nicknames, such as the Large Head George VI 1/4 rupees (minted for India from 1942-1945). Will this coin go down in history as the “Chipmunk Cheeked Kate” variety or the “Al Gore Headed William”?