Vault Face

The Bank of England Museum has revealed its (dare we say it) much-needed makeover, and celebrates with an exhibition of previously unseen objects from its extensive 300 year old collection. 

Large case 10   nightingale obverse intaglio test

Series D £10 note, Intaglio test

For those who haven’t visited, The Bank of England Museum (with its Wind in the Willows display, stuffed cat and scary mannequins) has always been one of the city’s more eccentric repositories, more akin to somewhere you’d stumble across in an out-of-town location than one found nestled in the heart of most affluent square mile of the metropolis. Its new exhibition Curiosities from the Vaults: A Bank Miscellany features everything from a mahogany secret ballot box designed by Sir John Soane to a letter offering Lawrence of Arabia a job at the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street. Banknotes also feature, with a set of original sketches, printing plates and test prints from the classic 1970s ‘Series D’ £10 note, which featured Florence Nightingale (a woman on a banknote – whatever next?).

Large case 10   nightingale obverse litho test

Series D £10 note, litho test

Bank note aficionados will know that this was drawn by Harry Ecclestone (1923-2010), the bank’s first inhouse designer, who was also responsible for its first fully pictorial banknotes. Ecclestone’s ‘Series D’ notes were issued between 1970 and 1981, and featured Isaac Newton, the Duke of Wellington, Florence Nightingale, William Shakespeare and Sir Christopher Wren on the £1, £5, £10, £20 and £50 notes respectively. One can only wonder what Ecclestone would make of the bank’s recently announced plans (after using cotton and paper notes for the past 100 years) to introduce plastic banknotes in 2016...

Large case 10   nightingale obverse paste up

Series D £10 note, paste-up

Curiosities from the Vaults: A Bank Miscellany 
31 March to 12 July 2014 
Bank of England Museum