Planned to coincide with the introduction of its new £5 note, the Bank of England Museum opened its refurbished
Banknote Gallery on Sept. 7. The Bank of England was established in
1694 and the bank says the exhibit is intended to trace this long
history, from primitive paper receipts all the way to the polymer
notes of today.
On display are historic notes, sketches and bank note artwork, along
with printing plates and test prints. Of course the new Winston
Churchill “Fiver” will have its own dedicated space. Displays in
the gallery include the origins of paper money in China, and how the
“running cash” notes, the receipts the goldsmith-bankers of 16th
century Britain gave for gold deposits, became the precursors to
modern paper currency.
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Showing that counterfeiting is as old as money itself, the story of
the “Inimitable Note” competition in the early 1800s is told. This was
an attempt to create a note that could not be copied and, as with the
U.S. paper money of the 19th century, resulted in an array of
beautiful and complex designs. It also offers a glimpse into the
advanced technology used for the same purpose today. Another section
gives visitors a chance to trace the life cycle of their bank notes
from initial design and manufacture to destruction and recycling.