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.
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.
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.
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!
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 >>
All those in full time education on the Isle of Man recently received a specially minted coin to mark the First World War Armistice Centenary.
In a move designed to ensure the younger generations do not forget the sacrifices made by those who fought in First World War, they were each given a distinctive 50p coin featuring selectively coloured red poppies. Each coin, commissioned by the Treasury, was presented in its own individual display case to ensure that it could be kept safe and handed down to future generations.
The reverse of this coin features the First World War soldier from the Douglas war memorial, with the words ‘Their name liveth for evermore’ and the dates ‘1914 1918’, beneath which are the Roman numerals ‘XI.XI.XI’ as a reminder of the final time and date of the War’s end.
Coins to enter circulation
There’s also great news for collectors on the Island as Cupro-Nickel versions of these coins, without the selective colouring, will be released into general circulation.
A launch event was held at the Legislative Buildings on the Island with the President of Tynwald, Speaker of the House of Keys, the Chief Minister and Treasury Minister in attendance, along with a number of other specially invited guests.
Specially commissioned Proof version
Working in partnership with the IOM Government, The Westminster Collection developed a proof version of this hugely poignant coin, struck to the highest possible finish. When you consider the importance of the centenary anniversary alongside the tiny worldwide edition limit of just 1,950,it comes as no surprise that they sold out in a matter of days.
However, The Westminster Collection are also offering specially struck collector quality “Brilliant Uncirculated” coins that are guaranteed not to have the scratches and chips of normal circulation coins.
What’s more, this coin has been officially approved and produced in partnership with The Royal British Legion.
10% from the sale of each coin will be donated to the Legion who provide lifelong support for the Armed Forces community- serving men and women, veterans and their families.
If you’re interested…
Today you can secure your very own First World War Centenary 50p. All you have to do is click here >>
100 years ago this year, at 11 o’clock on 11th of November, the guns of war finally fell silent. The First World War was over.
While many fathers, sons, uncles and brothers came home, millions lay where they fell, on the Battlefields of Europe. Those who were lucky enough to be identified were placed in makeshift graves, often only identified by a rifle placed in the earth with his steel helmet placed on top as a final memorial.
To commemorate the Armistice Centenary, The Royal Canadian Mint have issued a remarkable new coin that honours each and every fallen soldier.
Struck in the shape of a WWI Brodie Helmet, it is more deeply curved surface than any other concave or convex-shaped coin I’ve seen before. The design is so unique in fact, that the Mint have kept the minting technique a closely guarded secret.
Although the original helmet would have been cast from Steel, this coin has been struck in the very finest .9999 or “four nines” silver, this is the purest grade of silver available. The Royal Canadian Mint is one of the very few Mints in the world with enough minting expertise able to strike coins with this incredible high relief finish. It’s an exceptional feat of craftsmanship.
What’s more the attention to detail is outstanding, each coin has been given a final antique finish and there are even engraved cracks and markings which complete the helmet’s battle-worn appearance. A reminder of the hardships endured by those who fought.
The amount of 2018 Silver ‘Helmet-Shaped’ coins available is very low. A worldwide edition limit of just 6,500 has been set by the Mint, but of course many of these won’t even make it out of Canada. Without any doubt, this has to be one of the most collectable issues ever struck.
The First World War will always be known as one of Man Kind’s darkest hours but poignant issues like this one allow us to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
If you’re interested…
We have just 500 WWI Lest We Forget Silver ‘Helmet-Shaped’ coins available for UK collectors, but to get one you’ll have to act quickly.