New polymer note design revealed by Bank of Scotland
- Published: May 17, 2021, 8 AM
The Bank of Scotland revealed the design of its new polymer £50 bank note on April 21 with one difference noticeable immediately — a change in color from the familiar green of the paper version, to red for the polymer piece.
The 156- by 85-millimeter note is part of the bank’s 2007 Bridges Series, which also includes £5, £10, £20, and £100 denominations. The £100 note is now the only denomination not changed to the polymer substrate.
It is similar to its paper predecessor. The face continues to feature the standard portrait of Scottish novelist and poet, Sir Walter Scott and the headquarters of the Bank of Scotland, known as The Mound, in Edinburgh. Whereas the other denominations each carry images of traditional bridges on the back, this one has a view of a boat “bridge,” the world’s first and only rotating boat lift, the Falkirk Wheel.
An addition to the new note is an image of a pair of 300-ton horse’s heads representing mythological water spirits known as kelpies. They are included to recognize the contribution of horses to the history of Scotland.
A new ultraviolet feature shows a horse pulling a canal barge, one of the ways the animals shaped the geographical layout of the Falkirk area. It also has parts of the poem “Steam Barge,” by William Muir, written after the poet saw a new invention, the steam boat, on Scotland’s Grand Canal.
The note will have tactile embossing to aid the visually impaired, and a host of new security features, including transparent windows within the image of The Mound, and a transparent vertical stripe on the face of the note. Inside the vertical stripe is a holographic foil strip, which displays the Prosperity statue on top of The Mound, the bank’s logo, and £50. The foil also emits a Northern Lights effect, with stars and colors resembling that phenomenon when the note is tilted.
The 115-foot-tall Falkirk Wheel was officially opened in 2002. It is one of only two boat lifts in the UK and is the only rotating boat lift in the world. It connects the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. Remarkably, it uses the same amount of energy for one rotation as boiling eight tea kettles. Elements of its design are based on a Celtic double-headed spear, a turning propeller of a Scottish built ship, the rib cage of a whale, and the spine of a fish.
A “kelpie” is a mythical, shape-changing Scottish water horse said to haunt rivers and streams. The kelpies on the note are a pair of 98-foot-tall horse’s heads commissioned by Scottish Canals to stand guard over the canal connecting the Forth and Clyde Canal’s eastern end with the sea. They were officially opened in July 2015.
The Bank of Scotland continues a recent UK tradition attendant to the introduction of a new bank note. On June 30, the day before the official release, it will auction through Spink in London 92 notes with the most sought after serial numbers, those with an AA prefix. Another two notes will be auctioned with the offer for a personalized serial number. All proceeds will go to Mental Health UK. Information about the auction will be on Spink’s website in mid-June.
The Bank of Scotland is one of three private banks authorized to issue paper currency in Scotland. The others are Clydesdale Bank and the Royal Bank of Scotland. Although they are legal currency approved by the UK Parliament, they are not legal tender, even in Scotland. In fact, the Committee of Scottish Bankers points out, no bank note whatsoever, including those of the Bank of England, qualify for the term “legal tender” north of the English border.
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