Pound Currency Facts You Didn’t Know

December 3, 2021
Pound Currency Facts

The pound is used all around the world, not just in the United Kingdom. The currency is used as far away as the Antarctic (at least in the part Britain claims – not sure how many shops are there! Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands, and a few islands in the mid and South Atlantic, in addition to the independent islands of Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man that surround the British Isles.

Fact #1

A local version of the currency is used in most of these locations, and it cannot be used in other Pound-using countries. Here are some facts you may not know:

Banknotes can be issued by a variety of banks in the United Kingdom. The Bank of England prints banknotes that can be used in England and Wales. Scotland’s banknotes are issued by the Bank of Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Clydesdale Bank.

Bank of Ireland, First Trust Bank, Danske Bank, and Ulster Bank are the banks that issue notes in Northern Ireland. Scottish and Northern Irish banknotes, on the other hand, are not actually legal tender, even though they are legal cash! This implies they don’t have to be accepted as payment for an item; rather, they exist as a promise to pay, similar to a check.

Nonetheless, they will be accepted everywhere in their home nations and in most locations in England and Wales, albeit with some complaining and resistance from the recipient! The Bank of England’s notes and coins are legal tender in all nations that utilize the Pound Sterling currency.

Fact #2

There are various coins and notes that make up the Pound Sterling currency. 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1, and £2 coins, as well as £5, £10, £20, and £50 notes, are often used in the UK.

The Royal Bank of Scotland also issues £1 notes in Guernsey, Jersey, the Isle of Man, and Scotland. In addition to Northern Ireland, these areas also have £100 notes. The Bank of England took £1 notes out of circulation in 1988. Commemorative 25p and £5 coins have been made, and they can be used to pay for items. Since 1981, no new 25p coins have been issued, with the most recent commemorating Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s wedding.

Fact #3

In 1971, the decimal system was implemented. It was essentially a replacement for the previous money, which featured odd and fantastic coins and notes like farthings, florins, threepenny pieces, crowns, half crowns, and guineas, among others. In 1968, 5p and 10p coins were created, which had the same shape and size as 1 shilling and 2 shillings and had the same value.

In 1969, 50p coins were introduced to replace 10 shilling notes, then in 1971, 12 penny, 1p, and 2p coins were released. After decimalisation, some ancient coins were nevertheless legal tender for a while. Until 1980, the ancient sixpence coin could be exchanged for 212p. Until 1990, 1 shilling coins and 2 shilling coins could be used, and until 1993, 2 shilling coins could be used.

They were only taken out of circulation because the 5p and 10p coins were lowered in size. In 1982, 20p coins were released, followed by £1 coins in 1983 and £2 coins in 1998. In 1984, 12p coins were phased out of circulation.

Fact #4

There are also £1 million and £100 million notes in circulation. Giants and Titans are the names given to these two groups. Banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland hold these.

This is due to the fact that they must hold the same amount of pound sterling in their possession as the notes they issue in their own currency.

Fact #5

Nazi Germany produced massive quantities of counterfeit British pound notes during WWII in order to weaken the currency and destabilize the British economy. By the end of the war, in 1945, forgeries accounted for 12% of the total value of the notes in circulation.

Britain retaliated by discontinuing the use of larger denomination notes and replacing them with notes with metal threads. These metal threads can still be found in modern banknotes.

Fact #6

Although images of the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom have appeared on coins for at least 1000 years (and were often the only way a person living in the country knew what their monarch looked like), King George V was the first monarch to appear on Bank of England banknotes, which appeared on £1 and 10 shilling notes issued during World War I. Since 1960, all Bank of England banknotes have included a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.

Fact #7

Images of renowned British people appear on the back of Bank of England notes.

  • Sir Winston Churchill is currently featured on the back of £5 notes 
  • Jane Austen is featured on the back of £10 notes 
  • Adam Smith is featured on the back of £20 notes, and James Watt and his business partner Matthew Boulton are featured on the back of £50 notes. Sir Isaac Newton (£1 notes from 1978 to 1990), the Duke of Wellington (£5 notes from 1971 to 1990) 
  • George Stephenson (£5 notes from 1990 to 2002), Elizabeth Fry (£5 notes from 2002 to 2016) Florence Nightingale (£10 notes from 1975 to 1992), Charles Dickens (£10 notes from 1992 to 2000), Charles Darwin (£10 notes from 2000 to 2016) 
  • William Shakespeare (£20 notes from 1970 to 1991) were among the previous famous faces on the notes.
  • Michael Faraday (£20 notes from 1991 to 2000), Sir Edward Elgar (£20 notes from 1999 to 2007) 
  • Sir Christopher Wren (£50 notes from 1981 to 1994) and Sir John Houblon (£50 notes from 1994 to 2011) 
  • Artist JMW Turner will be the face of £20 notes from 2020

Fact #8

The Royal Mint stamps the date of creation on every coin it creates. In 2009, however, it made the mistake of allowing certain 20p coins to circulate without dates. A total of 200,000 copies were printed. 

Several of them were listed for sale on internet auction platforms for much more than their true monetary value.

Final Thoughts

The writers can achieve their purpose of imparting additional ideas to the readers. Giving some little-known facts regarding the pound currency will raise everyone’s awareness of the subject.

This demonstrates why we must respect and place enormous value on keeping money separate from its value. History speaks to us to respect and live with it.