c2a31 coins1 - The £1 coin - thirty years old and still going strong

Introduced in 1983, the £1 coin is one of our most popular coins largely due to its size and feel.

Whether routing through our purses, pockets or piggy banks, the one coin we’re always pleased to see is the £1. Incredibly, despite our reliance on plastic, phone payments and online banking, the £1 coin still plays a part in our daily lives, just as it did 30 years ago.

Why do most of us like it so much?
Introduced on 21st April 1983, the new £1 coin was an instant hit (although the Iron Lady herself, then PM, was said to dislike it). Big, bright and reassuringly chunky, it was built to last a lot longer than the paper pound note. A whole 40 years compared to a paltry nine months. It was also considered more practical for supermarket trolleys, parking meters and vending machines.

Not the real deal
Today there are an estimated one and a half billion £1 coins in circulation in the UK, according to The Royal Mint who struck them all. True to their word, original 1983 coins still turn up regularly in our change. On the down side, they’re easy to fake. It’s estimated that as many as 1 in every 35 are counterfeits.

Less for your money
During the last thirty years, the coin itself has had no less than 21 new reverse designs and 3 different portraits of the Queen. What it can actually buy you has also changed over time. According to the Office for National Statistics, a loaf of bread cost on average 38p in 1983. Thirty years later, that same loaf costs over three times as much. A pint of milk that was 21p back in ’83 has now more than doubled to 46p.

There have been changes to the way people pay for their shopping too. According to figures from the Payments Council, in the 1980s, cash accounted for 86% of payments in the UK, but by 2011 this had dropped to just 55%.

Whether the £1 coin will still be with us in another 30 years remains to be seen. For the time being though, it looks set to stay – a true British numismatics treasure.

 I recently reported that Royal Mail had revealed six of the best painted portraits from the Queen’s sixty-year reign as part of its new ‘Six Decades of Royal Portraits’ issue. A fitting tribute to the Queen as patron of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, sixty years after her Coronation.

The six included an early 1953 Coronation portrait plus the first one ever commissioned by Royal Mail. But which one gets your royal seal of approval? Here’s a brief reminder of all the contenders:

The Coronation portrait – by official Coronation artist Terence Cuneo 2nd class coro - Which is your favourite portrait of the Queen?
whose portrait depicts a young, newly-crowned Queen.

88p coro - Which is your favourite portrait of the Queen?

The Italian job – still the most iconic portrait of her reign? Fifty-seven years on, Pietro Annigoni’s portrayal continues to court controversy.

78p coro2 - Which is your favourite portrait of the Queen?

Chelsea pensioners’ portrait – Andrew Festing’s 1999 portrait, painted for the Royal Hospital Chelsea, home of the famous pensioners, where it still hangs today.

c2a31 28 coro - Which is your favourite portrait of the Queen?The new Millennium portrait – unveiled by the Queen herself in 2000, Sergei Pavlenko’s portrait is said to be the Queen’s favourite but is it yours?

c2a31 88 coro - Which is your favourite portrait of the Queen?

The first forty years – displayed at the National Portrait Gallery from 1992, Richard Stone’s portrait now hangs in the more modest setting of Colchester town hall.

1st class coro - Which is your favourite portrait of the Queen?

The Royal Mail world-exclusive – painted over three sittings by Nicky Philipps at Buckingham Palace at the end of her Diamond Jubilee year, 2012.

Vote now!
I know which is my favourite but which one’s yours?

In August last year, we reported the Football 50p to be the scarcest of the Olympic 50p designs according to our Olympic 50p Swap Centre data.  So how have things changed over the last 6 months?

olympic 50p triathlon - "Do you own a scarce Olympic 50p?" UPDATE: Triathlon kicks Football off Olympic 50p top spot

Triathlon is now the most in demand Olympic 50p

Well the news is that Triathlon has kicked Football off the top-spot with the latest information revealing the following are the top 5 most requested designs:

  1. Triathlon
  2. Wresting
  3. Judo
  4. Football
  5. Rowing

The Brownlee Effect?

Of course you might be forgiven for thinking that Brownlee brothers’ success at the Olympics boosted demand and perhaps it played a small part.  However, the biggest influence is how the Royal Mint has released the coins into circulation.

Unfortunately, we are unlikely to know the final figures of how many of each coin was distributed for another 3 and a half years, when the Royal Mint releases mintage information but I am pretty sure top 5 most wanted will be amongst the lowest mintage numbers.

Of course, in the meantime, if you are looking to complete your Olympic 50p Collection you can register to find other collectors to swap with absolutely FREE at the Olympic 50p Swap Centre.