"Quids in: the £1 fakers"

[Source "Big Issue", 22-28 April 1996]

A feature article in, "The Big Issue", allegedly described the operation of a four man gang of counterfeiters. The counterfeiters claimed to be each clearing up to 2,000 per week making the fake coins in a barn outside Oxford. Although they were all described as having legitimate day jobs, they claimed to be working a shift system to manufacture 10,000 counterfeits per week. The gang estimated that there were about eight "firms" working in the South East producing counterfeits. [ In August 1993, the London "Evening Standard" printed an article under the headline, "Wave of fake 1 coins floods London shops". They quoted an unnamed police spokeman as saying, "they are being mass produced as a 'cottage industry' by several gangs of forgers".]

The gang sold the counterfeits for about twenty pence each. Previously the counterfeits had often been passed through "slot coin machines such as parking meters or phone boxes". However they claimed technical advances were causing the machines to reject the counterfeits and they were currently usually passed on to clubbers and "at the bars of Jungle or Acid raves".

The article describes a manufacturing process the details of which need to be treated with some caution. They "melted down a combination of cheap metals ... from a hardware store". Presumably these were solders and similar lead/tin alloys. The metal was cast into A4 size sheets of metal. One-pound discs were "guillotined" from the sheets. The coin design was impressed into the discs using a mould based on a children's toy designed to make plasticine coins. The grey fakes were then sprayed with an artist's gold spray and when dried polished with a cloth. No mention was made of copying the pound coins edge lettering.


There were a lot of internal inconsistancies in this story. For instance 10,000 counterfeits retailing at 20 pence would produce an income of 2,000 per week yet the claim was that up to 8,000 per week was being made. These inconsistancies may be just due to sloppy sub-editing. However they also could be symptons of a larger problem so I believe this article must be approached with caution. That said the production method outlined is interesting in producing a "struck" white metal counterfeit. This is the only reference to this type found by the author.

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