Tam's Tall Tales

- Historic Scottish Banknote


Clydesdale Bank 20 Note Signed by Debbie Crosbie



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Fifty years ago, female staff were never encouraged or expected to study for professional banking exams which were required for all management staff. Female bank staff were employed to do the routine branch and administration jobs, even if they remained in the bank untill they retired.

In recent years, of course all that has changed and there are women branch managers and senior positions in head offices. But Debbie Crosbie has made history as being the first woman to have the "honour" of having her signature on a Scottish banknote. Ms Crosbie, who is Chief Operating Officer of Clydesdale Bank, has added her rounded signature to a recently issued 20 note. The bank note includes a graphic of Robert the Bruce and incorporates a number of anti-forgery devices.

Bank of England notes had their first female signature in 1999, but the Scottish ones have been an all-male preserve until now. Only Bank of Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland and Clydesdale Bank are still allowed to issue bank notes in Scotland. It was Sir Walter Scott in the 19th century who famously persuaded the UK Parliament to allow these Scottish banks to continue to issue bank notes.

The issue of female historic characters as illustrations on banknotes has become a hot issue with an ultimately successful campaign to have Jane Austen's likeness put on a Bank of England note becoming a matter of public debate. The Pride and Prejudice author will replace Charles Darwin on the Bank of England tenner in 2017.

Apart from the royals, there have been precious few female faces on Scottish banknotes. Exceptions have been Mary Slessor, a missionary (pictured here) and Elsie Inglis who was a pioneering Scottish doctor and suffragist.

Clydesdale Bank is facing some more fundamental changes. Its current owner, National Australia Bank, is putting it up for sale in 2016 in a public flotation. Perhaps the Crosbie banknote will become a collectors piece.


Please give me whatever feedback comes to mind via tamfromrampant@gmail.com.

Tam O'Ranter
May 2014

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