Whether you love them or hate them, it’s fair to say that when the Bank of England issued the very first polymer banknotes, UK currency was revolutionised. As well as refreshing the designs of the notes, these polymer versions were considered a cleaner, safer, and stronger alternative.
In 2016 it was the £5 that received the first makeover, and Winston Churchill was selected to feature on the note. Jane Austen soon followed on the £10 note and JMW Turner was selected to feature on the £20 polymer note last year.
Now, the scarcest and largest banknote in circulation – the £50 banknote – has received the same polymer makeover treatment, and on 23rd June 2021 the brand new polymer banknote featuring Alan Turning was released.
But it’s not only the design that makes this note special. You see, the Bank of England have described their polymer notes as the most secure series of banknotes yet. So, I’m of course curious to see what special security features have been worked into the design of our newest banknote…
Britain’s most secure banknote
Before the revolutionary polymer £50 came along, The Bank of England estimated that there were over 350 million £50 paper banknotes in circulation in the UK in 2021 – the lowest number of all UK banknotes.
Last year, approximately 20,000 counterfeit £50 notes were seized by The Bank of England – the second highest number of counterfeits out of all UK banknote denominations. When you consider that, it’s understandable that the need to make the new £50 polymer banknote difficult to counterfeit was at the forefront of the designer’s mind!
Let’s take a look at some of the security features incorporated into the design:
- Transparent windows – the foil in the large see-through window is green and gold on the front, and silver on the back. Within the gold foil squares the image changes between ‘50’ and a ‘£’ symbol when tilted. Plus, there’s a second, smaller window in the bottom corner.
- Changing holograms – the hologram beneath the large clear pane will alternate between reading ‘Fifty’ and ‘Pounds’ depending on what way you tilt the note.
- The Queen’s portrait in the transparent window – the Queen’s portrait is printed on the window with ‘£50 Bank of England’ printed twice around the edge.
- Foil patches – a silver foil patch contains a 3D image of the coronation crown. There is a second red foil patch which contains the letters ‘AT’.
- Ultra-violet technology – under UV light, the number ’50’ appears in bright red and green on the front of the note, against a duller background.
- Raised dots – you’ll find four clusters of raised dots in the top left hand corner. This tactile feature helps blind and partially sighted people identify the value of the note.
Alan Turing design
In 2018 the Banknote Character Advisory Committee chose to celebrate the field of science on the £50 note. Following this, nominations were accepted by the public over six weeks, accumulating over 225,000 nominations and 989 individual characters for consideration. 12 names were shortlisted, and Alan Turing was finally selected by the Governor of the Bank of England.
The note itself features a portrait of Turing based on a photo taken in 1951 by Elliot & Fry which is part of the Photographs Collection at the National Portrait Gallery. The artwork on the reverse of the note celebrates Turing’s pioneering mathematics and work with computers.
Most notably the design features technical drawings for the British Bombe, the machine specified by Turing and one of the primary tools used to break Enigma-enciphered messages during WWII.
Stationed at Bletchley Park, he played a pivotal role in cracking intercepted coded messages that enabled the Allies to defeat the Nazis in many crucial engagements, including the Battle of the Atlantic. It’s estimated that this work shortened the war in Europe by more than two years and saved over 14 million lives.
What do you think about the new £50 Polymer note? Let us know in the comments!
If you’re interested…
If you’re looking for a way to own this significant, revolutionary piece of British currency, then look no further than the UK 2021 £50 Polymer Banknote DateStamp™ issue. Each DateStamp™ issue has been postmarked by Royal Mail with the note’s first day of release – 23rd June 2021 – forever ensuring its provenance.
First issues are always valued by collectors and by owning the DateStamp™ issue you will be one of just 995 collectors able to forever mark the date the new £50 polymer banknote entered circulation. We have a limited number available, so click here to find out more >>