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Secure By Design – The Boulton & Watt £50 Note
24 November 2011 – 23 March 2012
To mark the introduction of the new £50 note, this exhibition focuses on the design of the new note and its security features. Using a powerful microscope camera, visitors can examine the intricate designs and security features, including the new motion thread, holograms and fluorescing inks. For children, answering three questions correctly about the new note will reveal a code to open a safe containing a prize.
The exhibition also traces the evolution of the £50 denomination from its introduction in 1725 to the Christopher Wren note of 1981 and the John Houblon note of 1994. It features a number of historic objects from the Bank’s collections, including the earliest known Bank of England £50 note dated 1732 and the original record of the decision by the Bank’s Court of Directors that £50 notes should be issued.
Also on display are the engravings on which the portraits of Matthew Boulton and James Watt on the new note are based. Boulton and Watt were responsible for accelerating the progress of manufacturing steam engines during the 18th and 19th centuries. Watt was seen as the founder of the Industrial Revolution. Until the start of the 20th century, a Boulton and Watt steam engine was responsible for driving the printing presses which produced the Bank of England notes at Threadneedle Street.
Bank of England Printing Department, 1894. From 1843 until 1904 a Boulton and Watt steam engine powered the note-printing presses
Matthew Boulton, 1798
James Watt, 1812