World Coins

One place the UK’s round pound is sticking around

“Round Pounds” like these will lose their legal tender status in the UK on Oct. 15. But there's a different place where they won't be losing legal tender status.

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On March 28, the Royal Mint’s new 12-sided £1 coin will be launched into circulation, and pound users will have to spend or exchange all of their “Round Pounds”  by Oct. 15, when the old pound coins will lose legal tender status.

Well, not all pound users.

The “Round Pound” will continue to be used on the Isle of Man, a small self-governing British crown dependency in the Irish Sea that has fewer than 100,000 residents.

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“The Isle of Man will not be following suit this year when the United Kingdom introduces a new 12-sided one pound coin and phases out the round version,” a press release from the Isle of Man government reads. “The Manx round pound will continue to be legal tender here, alongside the new and old UK pound coins.” 

The Manx pound is the circulating coinage issued for use on the Isle of Man. (Manx is also the name of one of the island’s official languages.)

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As the release explains, the United Kingdom’s new 12-sided coin, which is being implemented to reduce the number of counterfeit £1 coins being produced and circulated, will be accepted on Isle of Man, as will old U.K. pound coins, “with the latter being gradually repatriated to the UK.” 

The Isle of Man’s treasury department will consider a 12-sided Manx pound coin in the future.

Why can the Isle of Man opt not to eliminate the round pound? 

In short, because the Isle of Man is not part of the United Kingdom. It is a British crown dependency, but it issues its own official coinage, the Manx pound. 

The United Kingdom pound is generally accepted as legal tender on the Isle of Man. However, the Isle of Man’s Manx pounds are not generally accepted in the United Kingdom.

So the Isle of Man’s release confirms that United Kingdom pounds, round and 12-sided, will continue to be generally accepted on the island along with the round Manx pounds. 

Why is the UK’s £1 coin changing from round to 12-sided?

As many as 3 percent of the current round £1 coins (about 45 million) are fake, according to the Royal Mint.

To strike back against counterfeiters, the Royal Mint designed a larger, ringed-bimetallic, 12-sided £1 coin that they first announced in March 2014, just about three years before it would be put into circulation.

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The coin incorporates the latest in security features, namely the Royal Mint’s patented iSIS technology, which is “a revolutionary new high security coinage currency system,” according to the Royal Mint. “iSIS — Integrated Secure Identification Systems — enables not just coins, but the whole cash cycle to be more secure, protecting the public, vending machine operators, retailers, and the wider banking system.”

The United Kingdom’s new 12-sided £1 coin will begin circulating on March 28. The Royal Mint got out in front of the major change to change by launching on Oct. 31, 2016.

The site is dedicated to providing U.K. residents and businesses with information about the switch, and tips on how to prepare for it. 

What will the UK’s new £1 coin look like?

The latest portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, which was designed by Royal Mint engraver Jody Clark and has been in use since 2015, will be on the obverse of the ringed-bimetallic coin.

To design the reverse of the new 12-sided coin, the Royal Mint held a public competition. The winning designer, among the more than 6,000 entries, was 15-year-old student David Pearce. 

The winning entry was announced in March 2015.

Pearce’s design features a rose, leek, thistle and shamrock — four well-known symbols of the United Kingdom — all emerging from a royal coronet. 

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