10 years ago: counterfeit coins


© Shutterstock

Recently I discovered a £1 coin which was slightly more golden than others, and a more detailed examination showed a minting date of 1990 and a Scottish reverse. A report of these facts to the Royal Mint confirmed that this was a counterfeit coin. Despite the above information, and certain other minute details, this was clearly a match for a true £1 coin and had escaped the attention of previous recipients. Having sent the coin to the Mint, I have now been informed that x-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometry showed it to be made of leaded brass rather than the usual alloy.

Letter from J D R Thomas in Chemistry World (February 2004)

 

Ed. Recent surveys have shown that as many as 3% of all UK £1 coins are indeed counterfeit, though the number has fallen slightly in the last year or so.As a result, there have been several calls for the Royal Mint to scrap the entire denomination and reissue it. Genuine £1 coins consist of an alloy of approximately 70% copper, 5.5% nickel and 24.5% zinc. XRF analysis remains the favoured technique for the analysis of coins both ancient and modern.


Related Content

Coin isotopes unravel ancient inflation riddle

24 May 2011 News Archive

news image

Isotope analysis of silver coins sheds important light on economic inflation in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries

Chemistry World podcast - December 2013

3 December 2013 Podcast | Monthly

news image

We discover how spin chemistry guides migrating birds and explore the science of cheese

Most Read

Quintuple bond activates small stable molecules

19 September 2014 Research

news image

Exotic complexes suggest route to synthetic feedstock

Computer simulations point to formamide as prebiotic intermediate in ‘Miller’ mixtures

16 September 2014 News and Analysis

news image

Electric field may have provided more than just energy for primordial chemistry

Most Commented

Big name coffee chains drawn into acrylamide fight

23 September 2014 News and Analysis

news image

Starbucks and other coffee chains are being sued in California by a non-profit that wants carcinogen labels slapped on their ...

US genomics lead being lost to China

17 September 2014 News and Analysis

news image

NIH senior leaders are sounding the alarm bells, saying the US's pre-eminence in genomics research is under threat