The Nation Celebrates | Silver Coins

The Nation Celebrates

A matter of note

THE current announcement by the Bank of England (BofE) that Sir Winston Churchill is to appear on a future banknote (possibly the £5 in 2015/16, but that could change) has been greeted with the predictable responses from the predictable quarters. There are those who are praising the choice of “Winnie”—after all he is one particular of the most recognisable of Britons—but inevitably there are other people who are bemoaning the decision. A particular faction with political motivation is stating that the choice of a second Tory Prime Minister to grace a BofE note (the Duke of Wellington appeared on the series D £5) is both monstrously unfair and plain incorrect, specifically in today’s political atmosphere, as the two males gained fame/notoriety (pun intended) defeating a European enemy . . . aren’t we all friends now . . .? Others are complaining that the only woman to be portrayed on a banknote, Elizabeth Fry on the present £5, is to be replaced by however an additional man, why not a woman? This argument holds some weight (unlike the political 1 which just seems to be point scoring for the sake of it), even so, a list of names offered by the public to the BofE for achievable inclusion on future notes shows handful of girls and fewer of those are as nicely recognized as Churchill. I can certainly see Jane Austen or Elizabeth Browning, Grace Darling or a single of the Bronte sisters turning up in our wallets and purses in the future, but other folks, such as Elizabeth Garret Anderson or Octavia Hill, might have the public scratching their heads in bemusement. The basic truth is that the “Great Britons” we would like to see featured on our coins and notes are much more likely to be guys than ladies, that’s because in order to be considered genuinely wonderful the possibilities are you would have to have done some thing quite remarkable and also have been dead for a while—the nature of our society up till the late 1800s meant that it was less probably ladies would be in a position to do something “remarkable” (at least one thing recognised by everyone) and so the pool to select from is inevitably smaller sized. As time passes the number of girls who fall into the category of “likely to be on a banknote” will grow, even though with the recent furore over her death and funeral I don’t see Baroness Thatcher turning up on a tenner any time soon! Of course, as 1 of the (female) members of the Token Team pointed out: each single BofE note has a woman on it so men and women genuinely shouldn’t be complaining about sexism!

The choice of Churchill is intriguing though—not least due to the fact he becomes one of the couple of who can be noticed on a coin and a note. Every single coin collector in the country (and beyond) is familiar with the Churchill Crown (no sorry, they truly aren’t worth that considerably) and with this new note he will join Darwin and Dickens as the only three guys to be noticed on each forms of currency in England (Darwin appeared on the 2009 £2, 200 years following his birth and Dickens was similarly honoured in 2012, 200 years after his birth. Each guys appeared on the £10 note, Dickens on the Series E, Darwin at present). Florence Nightingale, of course, also appeared on a £10 and the 100th anniversary of her death in 1910 was also commemorated on a £2 coin, but only her name, not her image was shown. And no, the £2 coin with the steam locomotive was celebrating Trevithick and not Stephenson’s Rocket so the Series E £5 doesn’t count, though I do accept there was a £25 gold proof coin depicting the Rocket struck in 2004—but that isn’t going to be broadly seen so I don’t believe that counts either. However, for me the true reason Churchill’s depiction is of interest is from a design point of view. I bear in mind when Charles Darwin was selected for the £10 note and Sir Edward Elgar’s face was observed on the £20, the BofE told us then that a single of the causes they had been selected was simply because of their fantastic beard and moustache respectively, a lot more hair getting far better for banknote design as it was an added anti-counterfeit measure. Nicely, in case no-1 has noticed, Churchill didn’t have a lot of a beard or moustache, in truth the final time I looked at a picture of him he wasn’t quite hirsute at all! I will be extremely interested to see what security measure the new note has to make up for the distinct lack of hair on the new subject!
Token Publishing

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