Evolution of the UK Banknote
[UK, 25/10/2022] The history of banknotes in the UK dates back to 1694, when the Bank of England was created. They began issuing banknotes that were 'payable to bearer' from this time onwards, and they became a very popular medium of exchange used throughout the country.
The early banknotes were simple in design and often one-sided, with the issuer's name and details embossed in gold. In the 18th century, however, banknotes began incorporating various security features that were much more sophisticated than before.
Aside from the sophisticated features, the banknotes also became smaller. Early banknotes were very large, with 1943 £50 twice the size of 2021 £50.
The evolution of banknotes has continued to this day, with increasingly sophisticated security features introduced as technologies have advanced. By the 1980s, for example, it had become clear that traditional watermarks and complex engravings were no longer enough to deter counterfeiters.
In 1984, the Bank of England used a windowed metallic thread on the new 'Series D banknotes. This thread was visible only when held up to the light and would appear dashed if copied. The Series E banknotes introduced an embedded foil patch, ultra-violet feature and micro-lettering.
Changes to the Banknote
Banknotes also need to be durable and secure. This led to the switch from paper banknotes to polymer notes. This change was made after scientific research on the durability and security of different materials.
Polymer banknotes are more durable, meaning they stay in better condition for longer and are more difficult to counterfeit. Accessibility features have been included using high complexity and detail on all the banknotes.
New Monarch, New Banknote
Queen Elizabeth II's passing and King Charles III's ascent to the British throne have meant changes to national symbols, including a new banknote design. The Bank of England announced that the new banknotes bearing the likeness of His Majesty King Charles III will enter circulation by the middle of 2024.
The new banknotes' design should illustrate the king's values, according to Debi Ani. She added that capturing the spirit of values in a portrait is challenging, especially when it has to become an instantly recognizable symbol. Debi Ani also highlighted the importance of the portrait for anti-counterfeiting purposes, as humans are finely tuned to recognize differences and mistakes.
Oro&Co is a creative agency for luxury brands. It helps global brands, celebrities, and luminaries elevate their simple designs. Its team of world-class creatives transform narratives into authentic, timeless designs that transcend luxury. Debi Ani is the founder and creative director of the London-based design studio specialising in luxury brand design. Visit https://orodesign.co.uk/ for more information.