LONDON • Britain's new £1 coin with the symbols of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland went into circulation yesterday, on the eve of the launch of a Brexit process that has put national unity in doubt.
The 12-sided coin is the first change to the shape of the £1 coin since its introduction in 1983. Britain's finance ministry said the new coin would be "the most secure of its kind in the world", to prevent a rise in counterfeits.
About 3 per cent of the current round-shaped coins are fakes.
The new pound coins are thinner, lighter and slightly bigger than the old ones. The new coins also have a hologram-like image that changes from a "£" symbol to the number "1" when viewed from different angles.
"Staying ahead of sophisticated counterfeiters remains a constant challenge and this coin helps in that battle," said Mr Adam Lawrence, head of the Royal Mint, which is producing around 1.5 billion new coins.
The new bi-metallic coin has the same shape as the popular old "threepence" or "threepenny bit" introduced in 1937, which went out with decimalisation in 1971.
Queen Elizabeth II's portrait will be on the obverse side of the new coin; England's rose, Scotland's thistle, Wales' leek and Northern Ireland's shamrock will be on the other side, held in a crown.
The old coins will cease to be legal tender on Oct 15.