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.)


  1. My wife is called Shirley so Shirley's Super Whip is something I associate with Saturday nights rather than ice cream. Ouch! Ouch! I submit!

  2. Just imagine all the talk and chatter and wonder that will ensue after the SF library receives your package. When I send stuff overseas I always ask for pretty stamps instead of a meter-strip, and I cover the box or envelope with postage. There's still something absolutely thrilling about receiving a package with foreign postmarks and stamps.

    Some people go to the trouble of counterfeiting the one pound coin? I guess you mean they use slugs in vending machines, that sort of thing. I'm going to check my loose change and see if I have left over pounds to keep as souvenirs. And yes! I know that sound they make when you put a few pound coins in your hand, but I wouldn't have thought of it until you mentioned it. So, now I hope I ave at least TWO pound coins to keep.

  3. Is Shirley's Super Whip a local thing or is it a well-known brand? (And I don't mean YP's wife, either.)
    I LOVE that you sent that book all the way back to San Francisco.
    What was the name of the book? And won't they be surprised!

  4. no picture of the new pound coin? I wish they would get rid of the penny and the paper $1 bill here.

  5. I love that you used those last of the round pound coins to send a book back to my neck of the woods, here on the other side of our beautiful planet. That's really cool!

  6. Now I'm going to have look in my desk drawer to see if I have any remaining in my little foreign currency bag. I guess if I do, I'm out of luck.
    Back in 2013 when I visited London, I had (if I remember correctly) a five pound note that I tried to use immediately upon landing to buy an underground pass. The agent wouldn't take it and said it was a decommissioned note. A few days later, I went into a bank to see if I could exchange it and the teller said they weren't supposed to exchange them for non-customers but I think he felt sorry for me and exchanged it anyway. Making certain money obsolete seems a strange concept to me but, I guess it's pretty common in other countries.
    Good job getting all your pound coins in order!

  7. When we toured Europe back in '85, we were fascinated by the different coins in different countries. I still have a collection of them around here somewhere. And that ice cream truck would certainly tempt me!

  8. Changes result in many unexpected issues.

  9. Hey, that looks like a cross between our loonie ($1 coin, see here: ) and our toonie ($2 coin, see here: ) . . . we kept a couple of our paper one- and two-dollar bills when the coins came in, just for sentimentality.

    Most recently our penny was discontinued, and I believe the next on the chopping block is either our $5 dollar bill or our nickel . . . I wonder where it will stop!

  10. Can you post some home photos I love picking over interior design

  11. YP is NOT RIGHT. Or maybe it's Shirley who's not right...

    I have some kwacha & ngwee from Zambia, and I think I kept some pound coins from my trip home from there. I might even know where they are... I shall have to look & see!

  12. i can remember shillings and pence.

  13. Out with the old and in with the new, pound-wise. And what was that person thinking when they returned the SF book to your school library? A happy ending for the book anyway.


  14. I love that they're called "round pounds."

    I love even more that you actually returned the book to the San Francisco library. What was it, anyway?

  15. YP: You crack me up! You are out of control!

    Vivian: No, I think people forge the actual coins. The statistic we heard was that as many as 1 in 30 round pound coins are forgeries.

    Ms. Moon: I don't recall seeing Shirley's before, so she may just be a woman with a van. Or maybe there are lots of vans and I haven't seen them before. Not sure! The book I mailed back to San Fran was called "The Red Pencil," a book for young readers about a refugee girl from Sudan. We actually have it in our library too!

    Ellen: I'm with you on the penny, but dollar bills are still useful, aren't they? Do you think people should switch to dollar coins? I've never understood why dollar coins don't succeed in the USA.

    Robin: It's a bit irrational, but my sense of order wants that book back in its proper place. I figure it's a small price to pay for us to support a public library elsewhere!

    Sharon: It's surprising how often the money changes. The five-pound notes all changed several months ago, and now we're changing all the tens to a new design. (These are the new "plastic" notes that don't degrade as quickly as paper.)

    Catalyst: Coins are always interesting in other countries -- and paper money, too. I usually try to save some low-value paper bills when I travel.

    Red: Indeed.

    Jenny-O: They want to do away with the nickel too? Now THAT seems excessive.

    John: Of our house? It's not really designed. It's more just an accumulation. :)

    Bug: Collector's items, now!

    37P: Now that's going WAY back. I'm so glad I wasn't here during that time. It sounds confusing as heck.

    Alphie: My guess is they just saw a book with a plastic cover and a spine label on their shelf and threw it in the bag to return to the library, not thinking WHICH library it may have come from. The bigger question is, how did they move it to England without being aware of it? Or maybe they think all libraries are connected, and we can simply treat it like an inter-library loan! (Which I guess we did, unofficially.)

    Elizabeth: Isn't "round pound" great? It seems like such a British thing to say. The book, as I mentioned to Ms Moon above, was "The Red Pencil," a book for young people about a Sudanese refugee girl.