Paper Money

Scotland note celebrates women’s advocate Stevenson

The Royal Bank of Scotland placed an important woman on its first polymer £50 note, education advocate Flora Stevenson.

Image courtesy of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The Royal Bank of Scotland placed an important woman on its first polymer £50 note. The June 25 reveal was held in Edinburgh with the assistance of students of the Flora Stevenson Primary School.

Stevenson is the note’s subject. She was born in Glasgow in 1839 and made a name for herself as a social reformer dedicated to the interests of impoverished and neglected children, and improving educational opportunities for girls. One of her first projects was literacy for messenger girls, and later she worked with her sister to make a university education available to women. In addition to being an advocate for women’s suffrage, after Scotland’s Education Act was passed in 1872, she became one of the first women in the United Kingdom to be elected to serve on a school board.

The bank note was designed with public participation. Its face is dominated by a large three-quarters facing bust. One of its security features, visible only under ultraviolet light, is a reference to Victorian era schoolyards. It is an image of the classic 19th century iron playground toy known in Scottish as a “gird and cleek,” or “hoop and hook.”

The £50 note is the fourth in the Royal Bank of Scotland’s “Fabric of Nature” series, so the back contains images of the Scottish osprey. The other three are £5, £10, and £20 notes.

The Royal Bank of Scotland’s regional board chair, Malcolm Buchanan, said, “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. Flora’s impact on education, directly and indirectly, has led to opportunities for many generations. It feels right to celebrate her impact in this way.”

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