sound as a pound




Here’s a question of cash from Dave from Australia, where the banknotes are made of plastic so you don’t kick yourself for leaving a tenner in your trouser pocket when you put them through the wash. Dave says:

A mate of mine went on a holiday in the UK, when he returned he had a one pound coin in his jacket pocket.

He noticed this coin had some writing on the edge.

So answer me this:

What does this writing mean? Is it on all of your coins or just the one pound?

As all Brits are fluent in Latin, we know that the slogan ‘Decus et tutanem’* which appears on the edge of a pound means ‘An ornament and a safeguard’: the writing is ornamental, because otherwise the edge of the pound might look boring; and historically it was also a safeguard, as people used to shave metal off the edges and sell it on, back when coins were still made of precious metals. Though nowadays a pound coin is not worth that much, and a few tiny scrapings off the edge will not attract many bids on eBay, we still have not altered this system. It’s surely only a matter of time before there are advertising slogans around there.

There is only writing on the £1 and £2 coins, as the others are not thick enough to have much good reading around the sides. On the £2 coin it says ‘Standing on the shoulders of giants’, in tribute to the fourth album by that most British of bands, Oasis.

If you are enthralled by the subject of the £2 coin and crave more, I direct you to AMT166.

*Yes, Wales and Scotland, I know you have regional variants, but let’s not force Dave to run before he can walk.


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