Posts by Kathryn Thompson

The fascinating history of the ‘Ten Bob’ banknote…

The 10 Shilling Note, or ‘ten bob’, was a goodly sum in the old days – in the 1960’s it could buy 6 pints of beer, 10 loaves of bread, or 17 pints of milk.

It’s hard to imagine its decimal equivalent, the 50p, buying so much these days!

This old banknote has a fascinating history, from being issued by the Government in a wartime emergency, changing colour to avoid forgery from the Nazis and eventually being replaced by the world’s most popular coin.

The Emergency Banknote

In August 1914, the British economy was in turmoil because of the instability brought on by the oncoming war on the continent. Bankers and politicians were desperately looking for ways to secure Britain’s finances and prevent the banks from collapsing.

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1914 10 Shilling Banknote

The Government decided that a large supply of banknotes had to be made available for the value of 10 shillings, making it easy for the public to make small transactions. However, The Bank of England was not able to prepare and print the required number of notes quickly enough, so the Government took the unprecedented step of deciding to issue the notes itself.

These banknotes became known as the Treasury banknotes and were unlike anything the British public had ever seen. Until this point the lowest denomination banknote was £5, and in those days this was such a large sum that many people would never have seen or used a banknote before.

That means that these Treasury notes now stand out as the first widely circulated banknotes in England.

The Wartime colour change

In 1928, the responsibility for printing Ten Shilling Notes was transferred to the Bank of England.

However, not long afterwards Britain once again found itself at war, and again found its currency under threat.

During World War II, Nazi Germany hatched a plan to undermine British currency. Through Operation Bernhard they believed that they had discovered a method to manufacture counterfeit ‘White Fivers’ and planned to distribute these in huge numbers to destabilise the British currency.

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Second World War 10 Shilling Banknote

The Bank of England decided to take preventative action and, as a result, the 10 Shilling note was changed for duration of the war to a distinctive pink and blue in an attempt to prevent counterfeiting. It was also revolutionary in the progression of banknote technology by incorporating a metal security thread.

The Nazis could not compete with this high level anti-forgery technology and hence the British 10 Shilling Note stayed strong and supported the British wartime economy as it had done since its conception.

The 50p revolution

After undergoing a colour change during the Second World War, the ‘ten bob’ note reverted to the familiar red-brown until 1961, when a new design featuring a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II was introduced.

Despite a new design for the 10 Shilling Note featuring Sir Walter Raleigh on the reverse being approved in 1964, as part of the process of decimalisation it was dropped in favour of the new fifty pence coin introduced in 1969.

50th Anniversary of the 50p Coin Pair 1969 - The fascinating history of the ‘Ten Bob’ banknote…
1969 ‘New Pence’ 50p coin

The principle reason for the change was to save the treasury money, the notes had an average lifetime of around five months, whereas a coin could last for fifty years. The 50p has since gone on to become the world’s most popular and collected coin, but nowadays few realise the fascinating history of its predecessor, the 10 Shilling Banknote!


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If you’re interested…

It’s now been 50 years since the last 10 Shilling Banknote was issued – which is why you now have the chance to pay tribute to this famous old note with a LIMITED EDITION DateStamp™. But only a very limited number of 10 Shilling Notes will be released in this way, so you’ll need to be quick if you want to secure one for your collection! Click here to order one today >>

As we unveil the brand new Official Red Arrows North American Tour Medal, Red 5 reveals what it takes to become a Red Arrows pilot…

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Squadron Leader Steve Morris, aka. Red 5

This year, the Red Arrows will embark on a special display season – not only wowing crowds up and down the UK with their dynamic displays, but also painting the skies of North America red, white, and blue during their largest EVER tour of the US and Canada.

And in the run up to the first display over the pond,we wanted to find out all things Red Arrows from the team themselves and Squadron Leader Steve Morris, aka. Red 5, was only too happy to give us an extensive interview.  Currently in his first season on his return to the team, Red 5 has told us how to become a Red Arrows pilot and what it’s really like to be part of the world renowned Red Arrows…


How long does it take to prepare the display and train to public display level?

We start our winter training in October, and the team’s development is like building blocks – we don’t display as a 9 straight away.  We practice as 3 aircraft together, and then build up to 4, and then 5 – that’s ‘Enid’.  Reds 6 through 9, the back 4, will be doing the same.  It’s only in February that we’ll put the 2 sections together.  So it takes 4 to 5 months before we’re there as a 9, and then another 2 and a bit months of us flying as 9 until we get up to the standard that we would expect to be for the display season.

What happens if one pilot is unable to take part in the display? Do you have reserve pilots?

We would display as an 8.  The only caveat is if the Team Leader (Red 1) is unavailable, we can’t display.  At some sites, Red 6, 7, 8 and 9 (the back 4) might go and do their second half performance where they do their hide speed passes, but we wouldn’t display as a 9.  We practice as an 8 in case anyone is ever missing, and we try and keep it as symmetrical as possible.


‘we get to meet so many extraordinary people’


What’s the best thing about being a Red Arrow?

For me, it’s the ground interactions that you have with people.  Earlier this year, when we were operating from Farnborough, we bumped into a 90-year old Dakota pilot who was there to be with his grandson, who is now a fast jet pilot, and he came over to us and had a cup of tea and a chat – we get to meet so many extraordinary people that you would never meet if you weren’t doing this job.

How does the Hawk T1 compare to other fast jets you’ve flown?

It’s a bit like a sports car, but think track-day kit car.  There isn’t much on the inside in terms of modern technology, but let’s not forget the jet’s 40 years old!  There aren’t things like a moving map, synthetic weapons and head-up display, so if you compare it to the difference between an Aston Martin and a Westfield Kit Car, it’s probably actually more fun flying the Hawk, but there isn’t as much avionics inside the cockpit.

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The 2019 Red Arrows Team with their North America Tour Medals

What is the first manoeuvre you learn as a Red Arrows?

You start with what are our ‘basics’ of flying.  I know it sounds odd, but as everything is called by the Team Leader, you need to work on everything, so start with left and right bends.  Then you progress to do a standard loop, in one of our formation references which is called ‘Battle’, but you’re a little bit further away from the nearest airplane than what the public will see when we display – which is a good thing when you start practicing!  Then you’ll move on to more challenging loops and rolls, and then you start to build it up, getting closer adding more airplanes on.  Then, finally, you start to change shapes, moving from one formation to another.

What is the Red Arrows selection process like, and how were you selected?

Everyone who’s on the team has to apply to be on the team, so we’re all volunteers.  In order to apply you have to have 1500 fast jet hours, you have to have been assessed as ‘above-average’, and you have to have done an operational tour.  We get about 30 applicants each year, shortlisted down to about 9 – based on a flying record that we all have as pilots – and then for a week-long period the 9 shortlisted candidates come and spend a week with us, normally out in Cyprus or Greece where they are asked to perform a flying test, which includes loops and rolls.  There’s also a formal interview, and a PR interview – where you’re put in front of a camera.  But the biggest thing by far is peer assessment – how do you fit in? – not just with the 9 display pilots, but we have 130 engineers and display staff.  You need to fit in with everyone.  You could be the best pilot in the world but if you’re going to upset the team dynamic slightly, you’re not right for the Red Arrows.


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If you are interested…

You can now own the Official Red Arrows North America Tour Medal, the very same that the Red Arrows own themselves! Click here to find out more >>

Paddington returns in 2019 for two more adventures!

For over 60 years Paddington, the famous bear from deepest darkest Peru, has been beloved by children and big-kids across the globe. Since Michael Bond gave him life in 1958, Paddington has featured in more than twenty books, including being translated into thirty languages and selling over thirty million copies worldwide!

On 11th April the Royal Proclamation confirmed that Paddington’s adventures in London would continue this year with two brand new 50ps.

And today, we’re delighted to reveal the brand new designs with you! Plus of course, letting you know how you can add these new UK 50p coins to your collection.

Paddington at the Tower

The first new design to be released today, 13th August 2019, features Paddington at his third iconic London destination – the Tower of London.  You’ll see the most British of bears tucking in to his signature marmalade sandwich outside the famous fortress which is engraved in intricate detail.

This new 50p is available to own today in a range of specifications. Find out more about each of them below…

Paddington at the Tower Limited Edition Silver Proof 50p

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This is the ultimate way to own this new Paddington coin! Thanks to the use of colour printing minting technology, everyone’s favourite bear, and his iconic red hat and blue coat, are brought to life perfectly in vibrant full colour detail.

Each coin has been expertly struck from .925 sterling silver to a perfect proof finish and is beautifully displayed in a contemporary Perspex block complete with bespoke Paddington themed packaging.

Importantly, just 25,000 single coins will ever be issued worldwide. Considering the rapid sell-out of The Gruffalo Silver Proof 50p that was released earlier this year with the same edition limit – 25,000 – collectors will need to be quick to secure one for their collection. You can order this limited edition coin for the Royal Mint issue price of just £65 (+p&p). Click here to secure yours >>

Paddington at the Tower Brilliant Uncirculated Collector’s Pack

2019 Paddington at the tower BU 50p coin product images bu pack front - Paddington returns in 2019 for two more adventures!

The Royal Mint has also issued this coin in a special collector’s pack, including the coin in Brilliant Uncirculated quality. This finish is coveted by collectors as it means each coin is free from any marks you would find on circulated coins.

Each one is protectively encapsulated in its attractive official Royal Mint packaging to preserve its quality for generations to come. What’s more, you can secure this BU Pack at the Royal Mint issue price of just £10 (+p&p). Click here to order your pack >>

Paddington at St Paul’s

The second design to be revealed for 2019 – making it the fourth in the series – shows Paddington doffing his battered old bush hat (I suspect there is a marmalade sandwich hiding in there!) outside the iconic dome that’s instantly recognisable as St Paul’s Cathedral.

It has been confirmed this coin will be officially launched later in the year. But I’m delighted to offer you the opportunity to beat the queues and pre-order this coin today. Making you one of the first collectors in the country to secure one for your collection!

Paddington at St Paul’s Limited Edition Silver Proof 50p

2019 Paddington at st pauls Silver proof 50p coin product images obverse reverse - Paddington returns in 2019 for two more adventures!

Each coin comes beautifully presented and ready to display in its bespoke Royal Mint packaging. The coin is struck from .925 sterling silver to a perfect proof finish and features a charming full-colour image of Paddington at St Pauls.

Again, just 25,000 single coins will ever be issued worldwide. Given the record-breaking sell out of The Gruffalo Silver Proof 50p with the same edition limit, you really will need to act quickly to add this to guarantee you don’t miss out. You can secure this limited edition coin for the Royal Mint issue price of just £65 (+p&p). Click here to pre-order yours >>

All pre-ordered coins will be despatched after the coin has officially launched and is available for purchase worldwide on 12th September. If you pre-order your coin today you won’t be charged until the coin is despatched, meaning you pay no money now.

Paddington at St Paul’s Brilliant Uncirculated Collector’s Pack

2019 Paddington at st pauls BU 50p coin product images pack front - Paddington returns in 2019 for two more adventures!

The Royal Mint has also issued this coin in Brilliant Uncirculated quality. Collectors covet this finish as it means each coin is free from any marks you would find on circulated coins.

Each one is protectively encapsulated in its attractive original Royal Mint packaging to preserve its quality for generations to come. What’s more, you can secure this BU Pack at the Royal Mint issue price of just £10 (+p&p). Click here to reserve your pack >>

All pre-ordered coins will be despatched at a later date once this coin has officially launched and is available for purchase on 12th September. If you pre-order your coin today you won’t be charged until the coin is despatched, meaning you pay no money now.


Given the collecting frenzy generated by the release of the 2018 Paddington coins, it is highly advised that you secure your favourite coins from the range today. This is especially the case for the limited edition Silver Proof 50p coins which are renowned for their rapid sell-outs.

To check out the full range, please click here >>