Since 1983, when the new pound coin was issued, the designs on the reverses of the coins have been changed in cycles of five years, one 'British' version, and four other designs each representing the four constituent parts of the United Kingdom. The next series of four national designs is based on bridges. As the coins are pattern coins, they have no denomination and are not legal tender. For this reason the coins are not considered investment gold, meaning they would be subject to VAT if purchased new. As these coins are secondary market, the only VAT you pay is on our profit, and is included in the premium. At 5% premium, they're lower than some of our bullion coins - including sovereigns! And these are proof coins that you're getting! This item is sold as an investment product.
We have never had an explanation from the Royal Mint as to why this set was issued as "patterns", and also why they are all dated 2003 when we expected them to be dated 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007. We can only conjecture that they are not permitted to produce or release legal tender coins bearing a future date, and there may have been some complex legal reason why permission could not be obtained to release them as legal tender coins. Whatever the reasons, the coins bear the inscription "PATTERN" where they would normally say "ONE POUND". They also have a plain edge rather than a reeded and inscribed edge, and the coins are hallmarked on their edge, the first time this has been done on British coins, although we note this has also been done on the new 2004 pattern issue. The issue limit was 3,000 sets.
It seems strange that the Forth design is the first design, but the 2004 pound will be the "Scottish" version, therefore will have a representation of the Forth Railway Bridge as its reverse design. The next design, that for 2005, is the Welsh version featuring the Menai Straits Bridge in Wales. The 2006 design is the Northern Irish version with the Egyptian Arch Railway Bridge, which is on the main Dublin to Belfast railway line. The last of the four designs 2007, is the English one, which has the Gateshead Millennium Bridge.