By 1980 it had become apparent that with the general decline in purchasing power, the £1 unit of currency was more appropriate to a coin than a banknote. After consultation with many groups including retailers and special interest groups, the Government announced on 31 July 1981 that a new £1 coin that was to be issued on 21 April 1983. Since its launch the £1 has always represented the United Kingdom and its constituent parts; England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The £1 coin in base metal (as opposed to the gold sovereign, which has a nominal face value of one pound too), nickel-brass was introduced in 1983, as a replacement for the £1 banknote. The reverse design of the first £1 coin showed a detailed and intricate depiction of the Royal Coat of Arms. This design, representing the United Kingdom as a whole, was issued until 2015 in rotation with other designs representing England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, alternating each year.
In 1988 only, the United Kingdom was represented by this design by Derek Gorringe - the Shield of the Royal Arms only, and not the entire Arms. It differs from the later Shield design by Matthew Dent, which was issued between 2008 and 2016 and is not crowned.
According to the Royal Mint, "The reverse of the 1988 £1 was designed by a senior member of The Royal Mint's engraving department; Derek Gorringe. He chose to depict one of our nation's noblest heraldic emblems - the Royal Arms of Her Majesty The Queen, surmounted by the Crown of St Edward. Displayed in regal splendour on the obverse and perfectly complementing the Royal Arms on the reverse, is Raphael Maklouf's masterly portrait of The Queen."
The coin’s edge inscription is in Latin: DECUS ET TUTAMEN, which may be translated as an "ornament to safeguard".
Coins issued in 1988 circulated for 29 years until they were demonetised in 2017 and replaced with the current bimetallic one pound coin.