The £1 coin in your pocket is turning 30

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The £1 coin celebrates its 30th birthday tomorrow – although it does not go as far now as it did in 1983.

The coin was first issued on 21 April, 1983 as it was felt that it would be more useful than the less-robust £1 note amid the decline in its spending power and the growth of the vending machine industry.

A note lasted for just nine months on average, while a £1 coin can survive for upwards of 40 years.

The reverse designs of the coin represent the UK and its four constituent parts – Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England – and the first series of designs took floral emblems as its theme.

The purchasing power of the £1 coin has changed considerably since it first became legal tender.

A loaf of bread cost 38p in 1983 according to Office for National Statistics figures, compared with £1.24 by 2012. A pint of milk was just 21p in 1983, but by last year it had more than doubled to 46p.

A £1 coin would have stretched to a whole pint of lager back in the 1980s, with the average pint costing around 93p in 1987. By last year, the average price was £3.18.

With a thickness of 3.15mm, the coin was designed to be easy to make out from other loose change, although this has not stopped it from being targeted by counterfeiters – almost three in every 100 are thought to be fake.

Ways to spot a fake include looking at how even the lettering is and seeing if the milled edge of the coin is even and well-defined.