13th March 1961. Take a Note.
Today in 1961, the large, black and white £5 note, in circulation for many years, ceased to be legal tender.
Signed by Chief Cashier K.O.Peppiatt, only the well-paid would receive one of these in their 1940s pay packet.
The first bank-note to carry the Queen’s portrait was the £1 issued on March 17th 1960.(1)
It served two purposes: to recognise public ownership of a Bank Nationalised in 1946, and second as an aid against forgery.
It was the 1826 Act which established Bank of England notes for sums of £5 or more as legal tender in England and Wales, thus ensuring a measure of standardisation. Joint stock banks and note issues were allowed outside 65 miles of London-the Country Banks.
The 1833 Bank Act allowed issues inside that area and made all Bank of England notes legal tender.
The Bank Charter Act 1844 now concentrated note issue in the Bank of England. However Bills of Exchange and cheques were increasingly being used instead of notes, thus rendering note control less effective.
With war in 1914, came the need to conserve gold, and so flimsy £1 and 10 shilling notes were issued and printed on postage-stamp paper, with the same watermark. They bore the signature of John Bradbury, the Treasury Permanent Secretary.
The notion of £1 and 10/- notes had long been debated since the late 19th century, when Chancellor Goschen favoured their introduction owing to a shortage of of gold bullion.
In 1928, later familiar designs to the Author, the £1 and brown 10-shilling note appeared, with the amount circulated limited to the amount of gold held, as we were on Gold Standard parity.
When introduced these were known as Treasury Notes, as the Treasury was responsible for their printing; the Bank of England was still a private company until nationalised in 1946.
The later designed £1 (pound) note, portraying Isaac Newton ceased to be legal tender at mid-night on March 11th 1988, to be replaced by a coin.
Over the years Wellington, George Stephenson and Elizabeth Fry have appeared on £5 notes, and over the years the £10 note has featured Florence Nightingale and then Charles Dickens. He was replaced in the autumn of 2000 by Charles Darwin, who was himself to be superseded by Jane Austen.
£20 notes were the first to portray a figure-Shakespeare-in 1970, followed by Faraday, to be superseded in June 1999 by Elgar and then Adam Smith.
£50 notes have portrayed Christopher Wren and Boulton and Watt.
The Scottish economist Adam Smith shown on the most forged English £20 note. It must be pointed out that Scottish banks have their own currency, which causes confusion south of the border.
The £50 pound note showing the famous inventors and engineers, Boulton and Watt.
(1) It was designed by Robert Austin, updated in 1963 by Reynolds Stone, in 1970 by Harry Ecclestone and finally in 1990 by Roger Withington.
The lowest denomination notes ever printed were 2s 6d black on pale blue, notes in 1941, signed by the Chief-Cashier K.O.Peppiatt. In 1989 one was sold for £18,700.
In October 2004 a black and white £1 note issued by a Burton bank in 1817 was sold for £207. It bore the name of Harding, Oakes and Willington which existed 1813-19 and featured a blue sunburst design and a Coat of Arms.
At the same sale a Uttoxeter Bank’s £5 black and white note of James Bell dated 1829 and again with a coat of arms, was sold for £322.
The last Welsh bank notes ceased after the closure of the North and South Wales Bank in 1908.
Ref: Daily Mail Article, Frances Wilson 29.7.2013.
Ref: Last Word, Bharat Tandon, ‘Austen is the perfect choice for the £10 note-she was an expert on money worries.’ Daily Telegraph, 3.8.2013.
Ref: HC Debate 23 Feb 1891 vol 350 cc 1358-9.
Ref: A Brief History of Bank Notes. bankofengland.co.uk/banknotes.