When it’s a fake. I found a fake in my change yesterday, and another today. Today’s was a particularly bad fake:
You can see that the design on this side is not stamped in the centre of the coin. The letters “IRB” (for Ian Rank-Broadley, who designed the Queen’s head you see on the coin) which should be under the head are very indistinct, I can only see the R.
This side has the right design for the year (2001), which is a start. However, the design is very indistinct, and tellingly it is not aligned with the head side but almost 90 degrees out.
The motto, Decus et Tutamen, is correct for the year. The cross is present – this is absent in many fake coins. But the lettering is too deeply stamped, and edge of the coin (the grooves) is poorly defined.
If you think you have a fake, you can compare it with this handy chart from the Royal Mint.
I took yesterday’s fake back to the shop, and today’s fake wasn’t mine. But I think I may start collecting them from now on – they are quite interesting. Incidentally, check all your new (2008) 20p pieces for the year. Some were incorrectly stamped without the year, and these are now worth about £20. I’m definitely looking out for one of them!