Time to talk money. I was contacted by Binz Sidhu, who owns a small shop in High Ercall, at Telford in Shropshire. He took over from his parents last October and says he’s been baffled by the not-quite-the-full-ticket coins that have come across his counter ever since. “I’ve noticed that people are bringing in coins from the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and Gibraltar, mainly pound coins and 20p pieces.

They look exactly like normal coins bar the name of the country on the back. I’ve contacted various people about this and I keep getting the same replies – don’t know/yes, legal/no, not legal.”

Welcome to the helpline club, Binz, where every professional you consult, you get a different answer. It’s almost always the same. You have to sift through all the responses, take a balanced view and then cross your fingers and hope.

But this one was easy. Royal Mint to the rescue. Ta da! Bad news is, none of these coins are legal tender ‘here’ if ‘here’ is mainland Britain. They are only legal tender on their own islands. All have their own independent monetary systems.

Here’s a bit of useful history for you to pass on to your customers. The Channel Islands have ‘owed allegiance’ to England since the Norman Conquest in 1066; the Isle of Man is a British Crown possession with home rule and its own legislature and judicial system. Gibraltar is a British dependency (captured back in 1704 from Spain).

And here is a weird bit of information, passed on to me by the spokesman for the Royal Mint, which he volunteered because it had surprised him too. English notes – £5, £10, £20 and £50 – are not legal tender in Scotland or Northern Ireland, although it’s okay the other way around. My, my, this island race – how did we ever manage to conquer the world?

Topics