How to spot a fake coin

Counterfeit British Coin Guide

Counterfeit coin guide – how to spot a fake

Counterfeit £1 coins are becoming a huge problem in the UK with an estimated 3% of all £1 coins now thought to be fake. This would mean that there are £44 million pounds (yes, that’s 44 million pound coins) in circulation. Indeed, you may have received fake coins in your change from a store and been worried about spending them. The problem is huge and it can become harder and harder to spot the fake coins.

With this many coins floating around it’s highly likely that you’ve had a few counterfeit £1 coins – but how do you spot them?

According to the Royal Mint it’s important that you check your change and if you spot a fake coin then ask for a replacement immediately. However if you don’t notice the dud coin until later the advice is to take it to a Police station. This helps the Police spot trends in counterfeiting in certain areas and ultimately helps prevent it.

The sophistication of counterfeit coins varies and the methods employed by forgers varies, however here is a simple guide to help you spot the most common mistakes.

Dates and designs

Each year the design of reverse side of the £1 coin is changed and so date of the coin should match the design for that year.

Coin quality

Real £1 coins will lose a bit of their shine and lustre after they have been in general circulation for a while. Some of the fake coins don’t lose their shine and can appear not to show signs of age.


The orientation of the designs on both sides of the coin should be aligned when turned round.

Edge Lettering

The inscription on the edge of a real coin will always correspond to the year date of the coin. Usually, with counterfeits the milled edge of the coin will be badly defined with the lettering uneven or spaced incorrectly.

What do you do if you have a fake coin.

Using any counterfeit coins is illegal. If you have a fake coin or suspect that a coin is fake you should hand in to your local police station.

More information on counterfeit coins can be found on the Royal Mint website. 

At Cash4Coins we have a vast knowledge of the coins that are in circulation and those that are no longer legal tender. Whether you have lots of old British or Irish currency at home or you are a charity wanting to exchange foreign coins for Sterling or another currency, we can help.  Of course, we cannot help you with your fake coins but we can help you with those legal coins you have collecting dust at home.

It’s easy to send us your coins and if you have in excess of 10kg of coins waiting to be exchanged we can even pick these up from you free of charge! That’s a great service.  We will also count and sort them for you.  Once our team has counted your coins we will send you a no obligation valuation to consider at your leisure.

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