Paper Money

Paper Money On the Block column

These rare papers document the first subscription fundraising effort to establish the Bank of England in 1694. They sold as one lot for £74,000 ($101,531 U.S.).

Images courtesy of Spink.

Two documents considered the first subscription (fundraising) to establish the Bank of England in 1694 sold at auction for £74,000 ($101,531 U.S.), including the buyer’s fee, by Spink.

The sale price surpassed Spink’s estimate of £15,000 to £20,000. The two documents were sold as one lot.

One of the documents is dated June 1694, when the government was “raising funds to create the bank.” The second is “dated September 1694, just after the bank had been formed, for the second payment of £125,” according to the lot description.

The very rare documents were graded by the firm as Very Fine and were among the 800 lots offered in the Nov. 28 sale conducted at the London office of Spink.

The documents are for the subscription of £500 made by Sir Ralph Radcliffe for his wife. The subscription provided funding for the Bank of England to get under way.

On the lengthier receipt are the signatures of Bank of England directors Sir Henry Furnese, Sir Theodore Janssen, Abraham Houblon, Sir James Bateman and Sir John Houblon.

Sir John Houblon served as the first governor of the Bank of England from its founding in 1694 until 1697. His portrait was used on the back of the Series E £50 notes issued by the Bank of England from 1994 to 2010. The design of the notes includes an image of John Houblon’s house on Threadneedle Street, the site of the present Bank of England building.

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