Bank of England Museum reopens refurbished note gallery in London

Exhibit traces history from primitive paper receipts all the way to the polymer notes of today
By , Special to Coin World
Published : 09/26/16
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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.

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