Paper Money

Ulster Bank delays note issue, changes obligation from earlier proof

The latest image for the Ulster Bank’s upcoming polymer £20 note shows a change in the obligation when compared to images of a proof unveiled in 2019.

Images courtesy of Ulster Bank.

News that the three banks in Northern Ireland that are authorized to issue paper money would all release their new polymer £20 notes on July 20 was a bit premature.

The Bank of Ireland and Danske Bank versions were issued on schedule, but nothing was found, without digging, about the one from Ulster Bank, which was, ironically, the first design to be published, on April 21, 2019.

The Association of Commercial Banknote Issuers, the organization responsible for assisting the Bank of England in coordinating currency issues in Scotland and Northern Ireland, is circumspect on its website, saying only that the note will be issued in October 2020 and providing a link to a photo. De la Rue, the printer for all three banks as well as for the Bank of England and those in Scotland, issued a glowing press release on its work for the Bank of Ireland and Danske Bank, but said nothing concerning Ulster Bank.

Coin World’s Sept. 8, 2019, article on the Ulster Bank £20 note included an image of the note provided by the bank. That version is different in only one respect, the obligation printed on it, from the photo now shown by the association. The first version reads in six lines, “Ulster Bank Limited promise to pay the bearer on demand Twenty Pounds Sterling at Head Office Belfast For Ulster Bank Limited 22 February 2020.” The second one is different, saying, “National Westminster Bank Plc, trading as Ulster Bank, promise to pay the bearer on demand Twenty Pounds Sterling at Belfast 1 March 2021.”

National Westminster Bank Plc was known as the Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc until a name change was filed (coincidentally?) on July 20, 2020. Officially, the new name is Natwest Group Plc. Its main banking companies are NatWest in England, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Ulster Bank.

No explanation is made public yet for why the date on the note is March 2021 but the Association of Commercial Banknote Issuers says it will be issued this October. Nor is it known yet whether notes of the first type were printed, printed and subsequently destroyed, or just made as proofs. If they were made and not destroyed, a potential collector’s item is in the waiting.

Northern Ireland’s Bank of Ireland UK and Danske Bank each placed their new polymer £20 bank notes into circulation on July 20. The issues retain the basic designs of the paper versions they replace, but have enhanced security elements including clear windows, holographic foil, a tactile feature with three arrangements of four dots in a square formation, and color changing ink.

The face of the green Bank of Ireland note has an oval vignette of Hibernia seated at the left half, with the country’s six county shields at her right.

The blue Danske Bank £20 note still features the portrait of County Down born inventor Harry Ferguson, who is best known for developing the modern tractor.

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