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  1. Wealth
June 1, 2009

New faces of £50 banknote unveiled

By Spear's

The renowned 18th century business partnership of entrepreneur Matthew Boulton and engineer James Watt provides the historical figures to be portrayed on the Bank of England’s redesigned £50 banknotes.

The renowned 18th century business partnership of entrepreneur Matthew Boulton and engineer James Watt provides the historical figures to be portrayed on the Bank of England’s redesigned £50 banknotes.

Bank of England Governor, Mervyn King, made the announcement this evening when he opened a new exhibition at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery: ‘Matthew Boulton: Selling what all the world desires’.

Commenting on the choice, the Governor said, “Just as the Bank of England plays an essential role in the economy as the United Kingdom’s central bank, so too did Boulton and Watt’s steam engines and their many other innovations as essential factors in the nation’s Industrial Revolution.

“So many of the advantages society now enjoys are due in large part to the vital role of engineering and the brilliance and foresight of people such as Boulton and Watt whose development and refinement of steam engines gave an incredible boost to the efficiency of industry.”

“The unique and rare opportunity that the Bank has through its banknotes to acknowledge and promote awareness of our nation’s heritage of artistic, social and scientific endeavour is an honour for us.

“The Bank’s choice of Boulton and Watt, a reminder of the invaluable contribution from engineering and the entrepreneurial spirit to the advancement of society, I think, well reflects this.”

The Boulton and Watt £50 banknote, to be launched in around eighteen months time, will be the second note in the Series F ‘family’which began with the introduction of the Adam Smith £20 note in 2007.

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Therefore its overall appearance will be similar.  But for the first time two portraits will appear together on the reverse of the note, those of Boulton and Watt, along with the image of a steam engine and the Soho (Birmingham) Manufactory.

As with the Adam Smith £20 banknote however, continuity is provided with the current portrait of Her Majesty The Queen, which was first used in 1990 and which will be retained on the front of the note.  Further details of the design and the range of security features to be included on the new note will be revealed when the new note is launched, within a full promotion and awareness campaign.

Andrew Bailey, the Bank’s Executive Director – Banking Services and Chief Cashier, whose signature appears on Bank of England banknotes, also attended the Birmingham exhibition opening.

Commenting on the plans for the new £50 banknote, he said, “Not only am I delighted with the proposed design for the banknote but I am pleased too that the Bank has the opportunity again to introduce advances in anti-counterfeiting measures which have come on stream.”

As new-design banknotes are introduced so the notes they replace are withdrawn – although they can always be exchanged at the Bank of England for their face value.  The Boulton and Watt £50 banknote will therefore circulate in tandem with the current £50 banknote first introduced in 1994.

This earlier note, which features Sir John Houblon, the first Governor of the Bank of England, will be gradually withdrawn from circulation with the final date for its status as legal tender to be announced in due course.

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