By Lyndsey Hall
There’s a lot of change coming to our pockets in the next few years, and it’s definitely a good thing. With the design for the new £1 coin being chosen as 15-year-old David Pearce from Walsall’s artistic rendering of four well-known symbols of the British Isles; the rose, the thistle, the leek and the shamrock, all rising from the same stem within a crown, symbolising unity under one monarchy, it’s a good job the Scottish voted to stay in the United Kingdom!
The new polygonal £1 coin will go into circulation in 2017, and is designed to prevent forgeries by way of state of the art technology built into the coin that can be authenticated throughout the cash handling process. The current £1 coin is thought to be the most forged coin, with around 45 million counterfeits in circulation; costing the UK economy approximately £2 million every year to remove them.
The announcement that Winston Churchill will be the face of the new fiver in 2016, while Jane Austen will appear on the tails side of the £10 note, has come as a welcome shakeup of the British currency for many. When Caroline Criado-Perez heard that Churchill would be replacing Elizabeth Fry, the prison reformer, on the £5 note, she realised that there would no longer be a woman other than the Queen on our currency. Her subsequent call for Jane Austen to replace Charles Darwin when the note undergoes the plastic treatment in 2017 received a shocking response on social media, with Criado-Perez even receiving death threats. However, the petition managed to collect an amazing 30,000 signatures, and a crowd-funding page to raise money for legal fees in order to take the Bank of England to court over Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) hit £13,000 in just two weeks. Upon his appointment, the new BoE governor Mark Carney invited Criado-Perez to their offices to announce that Austen would be appearing on the new note. Carney also decided to review the selection process for future banknote characters, welcoming more input from the British public. The money that was raised by the protest was consequently donated to women’s charities the Fawcett Society, Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis.
The new banknotes will be made from a polymer that is resistant to staining and tearing, and can even survive a washing machine cycle, but will melt under the heat of an iron. They are estimated to last around 2.5 times longer than the current notes, saving the Bank of England, and the taxpayer, millions, although the initial cost of production will be higher than the current notes. The notes will also be slightly smaller in size, however the phased introduction will allow ATM operators to alter machines gradually to accommodate the new notes.
Around one billion polymer five and ten pound notes will be in circulation within three years, and now the £20 note is going to join them in receiving the plastic treatment. On 19 May 2015 the Bank of England opened a two month nomination period in which the British public can vote for their choice of character on the new twenty pound note. The BoE are suggesting that the face of the note should be a figure from the visual arts, which they have defined on their website:
“Visual artists include architects, artists, ceramicists, craftspeople, designers, fashion designers, filmmakers, photographers, printmakers and sculptors. The Bank will not feature fictional or living characters, with the exception of the Monarch, who appears on the front of our notes.”
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