When collectors think of paper money scrip, they will usually
associate it with adjectives such as dull, monochromatic, unattractive
but interesting, and similar terms. Even some of the more popular
recent scrip issues such as Disney Dollars, while colorful, are not
meant to evoke high artistry.
A reader would therefore be excused if he did a double take when on
the front page of the fashion and style section of the Sunday Aug. 9
New York Times, one of the three lead stories was about local
The story focused on the Brixton district of London and the nearby
city of Bristol, stating that with electronic payment systems now
growing, cash is becoming an “artisanal object.” Not only that, but
according to the Times, the term “cash only” has transcended tax
evasion and now represents “hipster entrepreneurialism.” What exactly
have these cities done?
It is not a new concept in Brixton, which is now celebrating the
fifth anniversary of its first local currency issue with the release
of a special Brixton £5 commemorative note designed by prize-winning
artist Jeremy Deller. The design itself can be described as
psychedelic with a face surrounded by a variety of lined patterns over
a multicolored background.
Charlie Waterhouse, founder of the creative agency, This Ain’t
Rock’n’Roll, and responsible for the designs of the Brixton currency,
called the new issue “the most amazing currency notes ever produced
... beautiful and mysterious; spiritual and politicising.”
And in what must be one of the most unique sales pitches ever
conceived, he added that the note “provides the most compelling
response to the rot that emanates from the Square Mile that I’ve seen
since we were all told we had to live under the yoke of Austerity.”
Each note has its own serial number. They are sold on the Brixton
Pound website, https://brixtonpound.org.
Pound was launched in September 2009 with the goal of supporting
local businesses and encouraging local trade and production. The £1,
£5, £10, and £20 notes are intended to circulate alongside, not
replace the U.K. pound. The local scrip is accepted by about 250 local
merchants. Since the scrip notes stay in the community and circulate
only there, they are said to provide local traders and customers the
chance to get together to support each other. According to the
website, when they are spent with a local independent business,
circulation within the local economy is up to three times longer than
when spent with national chains.
All Brixton notes feature local “heroes.” First edition Brixton
notes were used between 2009 and 2011 and had designs making pointed
political statements. The second issue is in use since 2011 and is
more avant-garde. Among the locals portrayed are Luol Deng, a
basketball player for the Great Britain national team as well as the
Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat, on the £5 note; and on the £10 note,
David Bowie, who lived in Brixton with his family from 1947 to 1953.
Pound made its debut in 2012 and is now accepted by more than 800
businesses. According to The Guardian newspaper, £1 million in
Bristol scrip has been issued and about £700,000 of that is still in
circulation. The program’s mission also is to support the local
economy, and the scrip can even be used to pay local taxes.
Each Bristol Pound is backed pound for pound by sterling deposits
(except when it has been sold outside the area to collectors, a caveat
that also applies to the Brixton issues). The first issue of £1, £5,
£10, and £20 Bristol notes will be recalled on Sept. 15 and will be
demonetized at the end of the year. Until then, locals can exchange
them for the new series. They are also available for sale to collectors.
A design competition was open to locals for the new 2015 series, in
which each denomination is dedicated to a particular theme.
The theme of the 2015 £1 note is “Bristol Green Capital” and the
note displays whimsical drawings of local wildlife and a woman
cyclist. The face of the £5 scrip note shows a nocturnal lemur from
Madagascar exploring the city, while the back has famous people
connected to Bristol, among them the author J.K. Rowling. The £10
note’s theme is “Community and Diversity” and pays tribute to the
woman’s suffrage movement and Bristol bus boycott of 1963. Finally,
the face of the £20 note is designed as a fun representation of the
area as a forward thinking city, and the back, the work of a
6-year-old, shows the diversity of the community as residents stand
together holding hands.
Each note has a hologram related to its theme.
More information and an online shop is located at http://bristolpound.org.
More from CoinWorld.com:
bingo hall purchase yields 1893 Barber dime obverse die cap with
full brockage of obverse on reverse
States Mint sells nearly half of 2015 American $1 Coin and
Currency sets on first day
American Eagles remain on allocation as U.S. Mint scrambles to
alleviate planchet shortage
a look at the Enhanced Uncirculated 2015-W Native American dollar:
the modern world coin third-party-graded market is growing
Keep up with all of CoinWorld.com's news and insights by
up for our free eNewsletters , liking
us on Facebook , and
us on Twitter . We're also on
Instagram ! VIDEO