United Kingdom’s new polymer plastic £5 Churchill note unveiled

New note, set for September issue, honors ‘one of the greatest statesmen of all time’
By , Special to Coin World
Published : 07/11/16
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Bank of England Governor Mark Carney unveiled early in June the design of the new £5 note, scheduled for issue on Sept. 13. It is the first English bank note printed on polymer plastic, and will feature Sir Winston Churchill.

Speaking at Churchill’s birthplace, Blenheim Palace, Carney said the new £5 note, colloquially referred to as a “Fiver,” “will commemorate the achievements of the only Prime Minister to win the Nobel Prize for literature and one of the greatest statesmen of all time — Sir Winston Churchill. As he himself said, ‘a nation that forgets its past has no future.’”

Digging into the design

The design of the back of the note hews closely to the concept unveiled nearly a year ago. It includes a portrait of Churchill, from a photograph taken by Yousuf Karsh in 1941, in front of a view of Westminster and the Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben’s tower) from the South Bank of the Thames. The hands of the tower’s clock are at 3 o’clock — the approximate time on May 13,1940, when Churchill said in his first speech as prime minister: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” This statement is quoted beneath the portrait. Also shown is a background image of the Nobel Prize medal he was awarded in 1953 for literature, together with the wording of the prize citation.

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The face of the note has the familiar portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.

Carney said the new £5 note is expected to last 2.5 times longer than paper notes and that it will be far more difficult to counterfeit. Among its security features are a see-through window with the queen’s portrait, in which window the border changes from purple to green; a separate view of Big Ben in gold foil on the face of the note and in silver on the back; a hologram with the word ‘Five’ changing to ‘Pounds’ when the note is tilted; a hologram of the coronation crown appearing in 3D and multi-colored when the note is tilted; a green foil hologram on the back, of the maze at Blenheim Palace; micro-lettering, found beneath the queen’s portrait, with tiny letters and numbers visible under a microscope; and the words BANK OF ENGLAND printed in intaglio (raised ink) along the top of the note. It will also have features to aid the visually impaired.

After Sept. 13, paper £5 notes will be gradually withdrawn from circulation. They will be legal tender until May 2017, after which they can still be exchanged at the Bank of England.

The new £10 note will be issued in summer 2017 and the new £20 note by 2020, according to the Bank of England.

In addressing Churchill’s selection for the note, Bank of England governor Sir Mervyn King said on April 26, 2013: “Our banknotes acknowledge the life and work of great Britons. Sir Winston Churchill was a truly great British leader, orator and writer. Above that, he remains a hero of the entire free world. His energy, courage, eloquence, wit and public service are an inspiration to us all. I am proud to announce that he will appear on our next banknote.”

The £5 note will not be the first polymer notes of the United Kingdom. The three note-issuing Scottish banks have all announced polymer notes.

Here's some more information on the new release.

Who was Winston Churchill? 

The famed and complex British statesman and author lived from 1874 to 1965, and was known for his leadersnhip as British prime minister during World War II as well as his writing. Both showcased his one-of-a-kind political thoughts. 

Churchill was a focal point in leading various social reforms in Great Britain. He was a firm defender of democracy and one who never shyed away from criticsm. 

His Nobel Prize in Literature in awarded in 1953 was "for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values," according to the official website of the nobel prize.

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