Blog Archives

New money

Today the Bank of England has begun circulation of a brand spanking new £50 banknote. Behold!

I’ve previously discussed the beauty of British money. The latest banknote features the portraits of Matthew Boulton and James Watt, inventors of the steam engine, which later led to the manufacturing of coins that were difficult to counterfeit.

Note that this is the first time that two portraits have appeared side by side on the back of a Bank of England banknote. Real history in the making and fodder for future Jeopardy episodes.

Even more impressive is the fancy stuff. Since I’m not in the inner circle to get my mitts on one of the first £50 banknotes, I’ll leave the description to the BBC:

“The new version of the £50 banknote has a thread woven into the paper, rather than printed on it.

There are images on the thread of a £ symbol and the number 50 which move up and down when the banknote is tilted from side to side.

When the note is tilted up and down, the images move from side to side and the symbols switch.”

What??!! Numbers moving up and down?! Images moving side to side?! Symbols switching?! Is this currency or something courtesy of David Blane?! Why can’t the US put this kind of thing together? Oh US Treasury, I know you’ve got a lot on your plate, but please step up your game.


The Color of Money

British currency is a beautiful thing. Not only can it buy you a delicious cup of tea and an iced bun when you’re hungry for elevenses, but it is actually a rather colorful, lovely specimen in and of itself.

Maybe only those of us who have grown up with the dull and dreary greenback can appreciate the vibrancy of a British banknote. I’m fascinated that folks like Charles Darwin, Adam Smith and even a lively hummingbird have cameos on some of the notes (Charles Dickens, Florence Nightingale and William Shakespeare have also appeared on the notes, before the notes were taken out of circulation and replaced with another line-up). I don’t even mind Queen Elizabeth’s mug on the front – she looks so classically royal and Mona Lisa-esque. And who doesn’t love the delicious spectrum of colors including tangerine, lavender and lime.

My sister-in-law Liz has pointed out another use for such color, beyond beauty. The identifiable color scheme makes it easy to see, at a quick glance, how much you’ve got. Brits never make the mistake of thinking a 5 pound note is actually a 20 pound note. How many times have we all made the mistake of thinking we were carrying more money than we were, only to discover after close inspection, that we had three one-dollar bills? Not even enough for said cup of tea and iced bun.

Makeover and color code your money, Americans. That’s just good dollars and sense.