Tam's Tall Tales

- Polymer Bank Notes From Clydesdale Bank

Clydesdale Bank Forth Rail Bridge Commemorative Banknote (Front)

Innovative Bank Note Commemorates Forth Rail Bridge Anniversary
In most countries it is only the central bank that can issue bank notes. But in the UK, thanks to the efforts of Sir Walter Scott who was instrumental in persuading the UK Parliament to pass Banknote (Scotland) Act in 1845 which allowed the three major Scottish banks to continue issuing bank notes. Nearly all banknotes circulating in Scotland today are from these three banks (Bank of Scotland, The Royal Bank of Scotland and Clydesdale Bank).

From time to time some of these banks issue special commemorative notes (the opening of the Scottish Parliament, the Queen's Golden Jubilee and 700th anniversary of the crowning of King Robert the Bruce, for example) The illustration on the right is a composite of three of the Scottish bank notes.

This week, the Clydesdale Bank went a step further and issued the first polymer (a fancy name for plastic) bank notes in Great Britain (in 1999, Northern Bank of Northern Ireland issued a polymer 5 commemorative note celebrating the year 2000). This new note commemorates the 125th anniversary of the opening of the Forth Rail Bridge and incorporates images of the bridge and of Sir William Arrol whose company constructed that bridge and many other landmarks, including the Tower Bridge in London and the replacement for the Tay Rail Bridge.

The Bank of England is planning to put plastic bank notes into circulation next year - no doubt pushed by the Governor, Mark Carney, who was recruited in November 2102 from the Bank of Canada where such polymer notes have been in circulation for some years. They are also used in Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Romania and Vietnam. Research suggests that compared to present bank notes made of a cotton and paper mix, the plastic ones will stay cleaner for longer, are more difficult to counterfeit and are at least 2.5 times longer-lasting. Certainly our current 5 notes are often very dog-eared.

The new bank notes are a "limited edition" - if two million notes can be regarded as a limited edition. They have special security features to counter forgery - in particular there is a clear plastic "window" in the notes, a hologram of a capital "C" and serial numbers printed in lettering that starts small and grows larger in the successive digits.

The notes are now in general circulation and a limited number were sold at face value at the bank's counters - maximum of two per customer!

For other Scottish Commemorative bank notes see Scottish Bank Notes on another section of Rampant Scotland

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

Tam O'Ranter

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