Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Coins of the Realm
The UK is in the process of replacing its ubiquitous £1 coins. Apparently the old ones were ridiculously easy to counterfeit, and there were reports that many of the coins in circulation weren't genuine. So the Royal Mint devised new coins, of two different-colored metals, with a more geometric 12-sided shape and other security features that supposedly make it the most secure coin in the world.
This has been going on for some time, and the new coins have gradually been seeping into our pocket change. I mentioned back in April getting my first one while visiting Newcastle.
Well, now we're coming down to the wire. The old "round pound," which has been in circulation since 1983 with a variety of designs, will no longer be legal tender after Oct. 15. So those of us with round pounds are supposed to get out there and spend or donate them -- after this weekend, they can legally be refused by shopkeepers.
Whether shops and banks will really be that strict, I'm not sure. But I'm not taking any chances. I got rid of all our round pounds, and it occurred to me yesterday that the library cash box at work (which we keep to take money for lost books and that kind of thing) was full of round pounds.
Fortunately, I had another problem to solve yesterday that required a small amount of cash. Someone returned to our library a book recently checked out from a branch of the San Francisco public library system! Why they did this, I'm not sure, but people can be surprisingly clueless about library books. (We get Westminster library's books all the time, and I simply take them to the local branch and drop them in the book return.)
The San Francisco book obviously posed a greater challenge. But I stuck it in a padded envelope, looked up the address of the library branch in question, and took it to the post office. For eight of our old pound coins, I was able to send it back home to the other side of the planet!
I traded in the remaining old pounds at the bank, and now the library also won't be stuck with any "round pounds" after this weekend. I'll miss the old coins, which made a unique "clacking" sound owing to their metallic composition. But the new ones are shinier and nicer-looking -- I'll give them that.
(Photo: An ice cream truck on Sunday at a park in Bromley.)