Letter: Counterfeiters felt the rough edge of the law

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The Independent Online
Sir: Alan Davies asked (letter, 10 July) the reason for, and the meaning of, the various phrases to be found on the edge of our pounds 1 coins. Edge inscriptions have been used for several centuries and were originally introduced to prevent the illegal practice of 'clipping' coins made from gold and silver. The modern practice of using edge inscriptions is most likely a deterrent to prevent counterfeiting.

The phrases he mentions are 'Pleidol Wyf I'm Gwlad' (True I am to my Country), which is taken from the Welsh national anthem; 'Nemo Me Impune Lacessit' (No one provokes me with immunity) which appears on the Scottish coin; and 'Decus et Tutamen' (An ornament and a safeguard), which appears on the English and Northern Ireland coins.

The latter phrase is a direct reference to the reason for the inscription - a safeguard or device to prevent 'clipping'. 'Clippers', incidentally, faced the ultimate penalty if caught in the act.




10 July

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