More than 120 million old pound coins still missing three years after they were replaced with new design

The old, round pound coins can no longer be used in shops as they were replaced by a new 12-sided design in October 2017. Credit: PA Images

More than 120 million old pound coins are still missing nearly three years after they stopped being legal.

The Royal Mint, based in south Wales, said while £1.58 billions-worth of the former round pound coins were returned and swapped for new ones, 122 million were never sent back.

New 12-sided pound coins were made by The Royal Mint to replace the old design in a bid to stop counterfeits being made. In fact, 1.5 million counterfeit coins were among the one-pounds returned to be melted down and swapped.

The newer 12-sided design includes a hologram and micro-sized lettering as measures to help prevent counterfeits being made. Credit: PA Images

The old one-pound coins were replaced by the newer versions in October 2017 because fake coins "could not readily be distinguished from the genuine" round coins.

A Royal Mint official said their "internal records show since 2017 approximately 1.45 million counterfeits have been returned, though this is a significant underestimate".

A total of 122 million of the old design were left outstanding despite the coin no longer being legal tender, meaning it cannot be spent in shops.

The Royal Mint said the old pound coins can still be deposited at most high-street banks.

Some of the last round pound coins were made at the Mint in 2015. Credit: PA Images

About 138 million round pound coins have been melted down to help create some of the new ones at The Royal Mint's base in Llantrisant, near Cardiff.

The newer design has been described by The Royal Mint as the most "secure in the world", with a string of anti-counterfeiting details embedded into it. These include a hologram and micro-sized lettering inside both of the rims. It also has material inside which can be detected when electronically scanned by coin-counting or payment machines.

During the pandemic, The Royal Mint have turned the hands and machines away from coin making and manufactured PPE for NHS staff.