We all know what the £5 note looks like, but how many of us actually stop to think about this tatty blue note? As the value of our fiver decreases, we take look at the history and anatomy if the Fiver!
Let’s start with some quick facts which you may not know…
- Our well-loved fiver is actually made from linen rag and cotton fibre.
- A minimum of 249 million £5 notes are in circulation with the Bank of England pressing to have more of them dispensed from ATMs.
- The first £5 was introduced back in 1793 and was not quite so humble as it is today – Being worth (in today’s money) something in the region of £400.00! Quite a lot considering the highest current value denomination is £100.00
- Until 1928 all notes were printed in black and the reverse was blank. The current note is blue and the smallest note in circulation being approximately 135mm x 70mm.
A tale of two Lizzy’s
Since May 2002 Elizabeth Fry, a former prison reformer, has occupied the reverse of the fiver with Queen Elizabeth II being on the front.
Elizabeth Fry was a Norwich born Quaker and mother of 11, who lived from 1780-1845. She was a tireless charity worker who campaigned to improve prison conditions for women after being horrify by what she saw in Newgate Prison, where over 300 women and children were crammed into tiny cells. Everything in Gaol had to be paid for by the prisoners themselves so she arranged for materials to be provide to women so they could sew, knit and make goods to sell – She even started a school for the children in the prison. Ultimately her good work was rewarded with invitation to speak in Parliament about prison conditions and the passing of the 1823 Gaol act which improved conditions for prisoners in British jails.
She also followed a training course for nurses and helped improve the conditions for prisoners travelling to Australia, by giving women parcels of useful things for their long journey and successfully arguing against the need to have prisoners chained to the deck of the ship for the duration of the voyage.
Design and Security Features
Although it looks pretty humble, your fiver actually incorporates a number of advanced security features. A special ‘paper’ (linen rag and cotton fibre) is used and the print on our fiver is raised and can be felt by running a finger over the words ‘Bank of England’. Metallic thread, which appears as a silver broken line can be seen on the back of the note. If it is held up to the light however, it looks as if it has a continuous dark line. The watermark – a portrait of the Queen is seen when the note is shown up to the light.
The many further security and design features on our current fiver include the unique numbering system which has the numbers printed both horizontally and vertically. Those people who are partially sighted are assisted by the turquoise circle on the front of the note.
Who Signs your Fiver?
Every single note has a signature on it, so this really should be the most recognisable signature in the UK. The man behind the 3.2 billion English notes bearing his signature since he was appointed the 30th Chief Cashier at the Bank of England in 2004 is Andrew Bailey. The Bank of England was established in 1694 and it has always been one of the duties of the Chief Cashier to sign the notes. Of course, they aren’t signed individually now, but originally a cashier had to sign every note by hand!
|Written by :|
|Jan is a news & research reporter for compareandsave.com.
Having previously written about cookery, rural living she now concentrates on providing our readers with insights and tips on making the most of their money, by ensuring that they have all the relevant facts to enable them to make an informed choice.For press enquiries, please visit our Media Centre page.