Paper Money

Catherine Cranston debuts on latest Royal Bank of Scotland note

The Royal Bank of Scotland on March 5 released a new £20 note, the third denomination in its polymer Fabric of Nature series.

Images courtesy of Royal Bank of Scotland.

The Royal Bank of Scotland has released a new £20 note, the third denomination in its polymer Fabric of Nature series.

The series will eventually contain five denominations. The £5, £10, and £20 notes have now been issued. The £50 and £100 bank notes will follow in the future. The face of every note highlights a significant Scottish woman, while an indigenous species of Scottish wildlife is featured on the back of each note.

The purple and pale red £20 note first entered commerce on March 5. Measuring 139 by 73 millimeters, it is the Royal Bank of Scotland’s first new £20 note in 23 years. It is also the first of that denomination to feature a woman other than the queen on its face.

The £20 note, with £736 million in circulation, is the bank’s most demanded circulating note.

The bust of Catherine “Kate” Cranston dominates the face side. The background picture is of Cranston’s Tea Rooms. Although the legendary entrepreneur had a central role in promoting tea rooms as a genteel alternative to pubs, she was also a major patron of architect, designer and watercolorist Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and was an astute businesswoman; when she died at 85, she left two-thirds of her estate to the poor of Glasgow.

Royal Bank of Scotland board chairman Malcolm Buchanan explained the bank’s decision in depicting Cranston, “At Royal Bank of Scotland, we feel that a banknote’s value is more than just the figure printed across its front — it is our symbol which lives in people’s pockets and touches everyday lives. … Kate Cranston’s legacy touches so many aspects of Scottish life that we, as a nation, are justifiably proud; entrepreneurship, art, philanthropy and dedication.”

The back features a pair of red squirrels cavorting on a tree limb, a midge, and an excerpt from the poem “Cupid and Venus” by Mark Alexander Boyd. In the background on the right is imagery of plants used in the dyeing process, along with the same weave pattern created by textile designers Alistair McDade and Elspeth Anderson for the £5 and £10 notes.

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