LIGHT GOLD. When gold coins fall below a certain weight they cease to be legal tender. The least current weight, troy, for a half-sovereign is 61125 grains, for a sove reign 122•5 grains, for a two-pound piece 245 grains, for a five-pound piece 612.5 grains.
The seventh section of the Coinage Act, 1870, gives a person power to cut or deface a light coin, but this is never done in the ordinary course of business, as gold coins, even though they are below the prescribed least current weight, pass from hand to hand without question. The words of the Section are : " Where any gold coin of the realm is below the current weight as provided by this .Act, or where any coin is called in by proclamation. every person shall, by himself or others, cut, break, or deface any such coin tendered to him in payment, and the person tendering the same shall hear the loss. If any coin cut, broken, or defaced in pursuance of this Section is not below the current weight, or has not been called in by any proclamation, the person cutting, breaking, or defacing the same shall receive the same in payment according to its denomination."
There is no penalty attached for non compliance with the Act.
By the Coinage Act, 1891, gold coins which are not more than three grains below the standard weight may be exchanged at the Mint for their full value.
No light gold coins are paid out by the Bank of England. As the Bank only makes a charge for receiving light gold coins where there is clear evidence of ill-usage, there is now no tendency for such light gold coins to continue in circulation.
The Bank of England has special machines for separating light coins from those of full weight. The machines weigh the coins one by one and shoot off those of full weight in one direction and those which are light in another. (See COINAGE.)