The new design of Britain’s most common, and most forged, banknote has been unveiled by the Bank of England.
Security features on the next £20 note, featuring artist JMW Turner, will include two see-through windows on the note and a metallic hologram.
In the first half this year, 88% of detected banknote forgeries were £20 notes, the Bank’s statistics show.
The new design, which the Bank describes as its most secure, enters circulation on 20 February next year.
Why is the £20 note important?
The most commonly circulating banknote in Britain is the £20 note, with two billion of them in the system.
That is double the number of £10 notes in circulation, and far greater than the number of £5 notes (396 million) and £50 notes (344 million).
The popularity of the note is part of the reason for it also being the most likely to be forged.
The Bank discovered 228,000 counterfeit banknotes in the first half of the year, of which 201,000 were £20 notes.
It has easily been the most commonly forged Bank of England banknote in each of the past 10 years.
The new £20 note will be the first to feature the signature of Sarah John, the Bank’s chief cashier, who said: “The new £20 is an important part of our commitment to providing banknotes that people can use with confidence.
“Our polymer notes are much harder to counterfeit and, with the £20 being our most common note, this marks a big step forward in our fight against counterfeiting.”
What will the new banknote look like?
The banknote will feature Turner’s self-portrait, from 1799, currently on display in the Tate Britain, and one of his most eminent paintings – The Fighting Temeraire – which can be seen in the National Gallery.
In 2005, the painting – a tribute to the ship HMS Temeraire in Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 – was voted Britain’s greatest painting in a poll organised by the BBC.
The quote on the banknote – “Light is therefore colour” – comes from an 1818 lecture by Turner at the Royal Academy, where he first exhibited at the age of 15. His signature is from his will in which he bequeathed his work to the nation.
Others features include:
- A large see-through window, based on the shape of the fountains in London’s Trafalgar Square, with a blue and gold foil on the front depicting Margate lighthouse and the Turner Contemporary gallery in the town
- A smaller see-through window in the bottom corner of the note inspired by Tintern Abbey
- A metallic hologram which changes between the words “Twenty” and “Pounds” when tilted
- The Queen’s portrait in the see-through window with “£20 Bank of England” printed twice around the edge
- A silver foil patch with the 3D image of the coronation crown
- A purple foil patch containing the letter T, based on the staircase at the Tate Britain gallery
Bank of England governor Mark Carney said: “As the new Turner £20 testifies, money can be a work of art in everyone’s pocket.”
The note is replacing the current £20 note featuring the economist Adam Smith. Of the five characters on banknotes by the end of 2021, other than the Queen only Jane Austen – who has appeared on the £10 note since 2017 – is a woman.
News from BBC