50 years in the making – from 3d to £1: the story behind the new £1 coin

In just a few weeks, Britain’s one pound coin will undergo a major makeover. The familiar round pound will change to become bi-metallic and 12-sided and will also have several new security features. But the shape of this new £1 coin is actually a throwback to the thrup’nny bit – an old favourite from the pre-decimal era.

The 12-sided threepenny is fondly remembered for its individuality. There was quite literally nothing like it before, and it holds the proud title of Britain’s first non-circular coin.

But, of course, it’s not the first major change in the nation’s £1.

I’ve taken a look back at some of the key changes for Britain’s coinage over the last 50 years to welcome the brand new 12-sided £1 coin, when it is issued on 28th March.

The 28th March 2017 is sure to become a historic day as we welcome the new coin which has been billed to become the most secure circulating coin in the world. This will be the first specification change to our £1 coin in more than 3 decades.

But the Thrup’nny Bit deserves recognition for being the inspiration behind our new £1 coin which is sure to become a collecting sensation. The Thrup’nny Bit was eventually withdrawn from circulation in 1971  after the introduction of decimal coinage which didn’t include Three Pence as a denomination. However, its legacy lives on, and is still widely regarded as one of the most iconic coins in British history.

The Story of the new £1 Collector’s Pack

Click here to secure the ‘Story of the £1 Collector Pack’ which has space for you to house the new 12-sided £1 coin once you find it in your change, alongside the UK Brass 12-Sided Threepence Coin.

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Poll: What is your favourite round £1 Coin design? – Scotland

As part of the Great One Pound Coin Race, we want to find out Britain’s favourite £1 coin.

Last week we asked you to vote for your favourite UK £1 coin design – over 40% of Change Checkers voted for the 2016 Last round pound.

This week we want to know your favourite Scottish £1 coin design.

Let us know by voting in our poll below:

More information about the Scotland £1 coin designs

Scotland: Thistle

The Thistle £1 was issued in 1984 and 1989

The first reverse design series of £1 coins took floral emblems as its theme to represent the United Kingdom and its four constituent countries. They were designed by Leslie Durbin – one of the most highly-regarded silversmiths of the 20th Century. The Thistle is used on this coin to represent Scotland.


Scotland: Lion Rampant

The Scotland Lion Rampant £1 was issued in 1994



This coin features a Lion Rampant which is used to represent Scotland. The term ‘rampant’ refers to the position of the lion standing upright with forelegs raised and claws unsheathed, and this symbol was first used to represent the Scottish kingdom by King Alexander II in the 13th century.


Scotland: Forth Railway Bridge

The Scotland Forth Railway Bridge £1 was issued in 2004


This coin features the Forth Railway Bridge to represent Scotland. The Forth Bridge is a cantilever railway bridge to the East of Scotland which connects the capital city Edinburgh with Fife. Construction began in 1883 and it was the first major structure in Britain to be constructed of steel, using ten times as much as the Eiffel Tower.


Scotland: Edinburgh City

The Edinburgh City £1 was issued in 2011


The fourth series of £1 coins used the capital cities of the four constituent countries as the basis of the reverse design. Designed by Stuart Devlin, Goldsmith and Jeweller to the Queen, this coin depicts the circular Coat of Arms of Edinburgh as the principal focus to represent Scotland.


Scotland: Thistle and Bluebell

The Thistle and Bluebell £1 was issued in 2014


The fifth series of £1 coin designs uses pairs of floral emblems designed by Timothy Noad to represent the United Kingdom and its four constituent countries. This coin features a thistle alongside a bluebell to represent Scotland.


Next week- Part 3: What’s your favourite Northern Irish £1 coin design?

last-round-pound-cc-packaging-banner-330x330This could be your last chance to secure Britain’s last ’round pound’.

If you want to get your hands on the last ‘round pound’ they are available here protectively encapsulated and certified as superior Brilliant Uncirculated quality. 

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The NEW £1 Scarcity Index reveals which £1 coins are the rarest

Can’t wait – click here to reveal the UK’s “scarcest” £1 coin

With the Great One Pound Coin Race underway, collectors across the UK are desperate to know which £1 coins are the hardest to find in their change.

Up to now, change collectors have relied upon mintage figures for their indication as to which coins in circulation are the rarest.  But the story is not that simple.

650 million coins lost from circulation

The £1 coin has been in circulation since 1983.  During that time a total of 2.2 billion £1 have been struck for circulation.  But they are not all still in use.

"British coins. Could be The economy, wages, home finance, savings, etc."

There are 1.5 billion coins in circulation but probably fewer than 800,000 of the rarest design

The last available figures for coins in circulation, published by The Royal Mint for 2014, suggest that 1,553,000,000 £1 coins are in circulation.

In other words, 650 million of the coins struck no longer circulate, presumably withdrawn over the years as worn or damaged.

The majority of those 650 million coins are from the early issuing years, meaning that although some of those years may have high mintages, the actual number of coins available to collect from your change is far lower.  In fact our research suggests that only a little more than half of the early years’ £1 coins are still in circulation.  Far fewer if you’re trying to secure one in good collectable condition.

Scarcity breeds scarcity

But even that is only part of the story.  Of course, scarcity breads scarcity.

Even before the launch of the Great One Pound Coin Race, we noticed a rise in collector interest for £1 coins on the back of the introduction of the new 12-sided £1 coin.  And the demand is always disproportionately high for the more difficult coins.  The result is a continued ratcheting up in demand for the rarer coins.

The NEW Change Checker £1 Scarcity Index

That’s why Change Checker has launched the new £1 Scarcity Index.  Rather just relying on mintage figures, we have combined them with the two critical points above – the actual numbers of coins in circulation and real collector demand, measured by Change Checker swap data – to create a unique Scarcity Index for the £1 Coin.

Scaled from 100 to 1, the scores represent the relative scarcity of each coin, with 100 being the most scarce.


So will I ever find the Edinburgh City £1 Coin in my change?


With a scarcity rating of 100, the Edinburgh City £1 Coin is the rarest Round £1 in circulation

With the Edinburgh City £1 Coin topping the Scarcity Index, will you ever actually find one in your change?

Well certainly it won’t be easy – but it’s definitely possible.  Our calculations suggest there are probably somewhere between 600,000 – 800,000 Edinburgh City coins still in circulation.  In other words, it is of similar rarity to the recently issued 2015 First World War Navy £2 but far less scarce than the rarest current circulation coin – Kew Gardens 50p, which had a mintage of just 210,000.

On average, it means that you will have to examine roughly 3,000 mixed £1 coins to find the Edinburgh City £1 Coin.  But with over 6,000 Change Collectors already listing the Edinburgh City £1 Coin in their collection, it is certainly an achievable goal.

Plus keep following Change Checker because we’ll be giving away any Edinburgh City £1 Coins we come across as competition prizes, all as part of the Great One Pound Coin Race.

Read more tips on how you can find those hard to get coins.

the-great-one-pound-coin-race-banner-350x350It’s not too late to join the Great One Pound Coin Race.

Simply click here to enter today and you too could own a complete collection of £1 coins direct from your change before they’re gone for ever.

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