The all-new polymer £20 note featuring one of Britain’s greatest artists JMW Turner has entered circulation and will soon be in tills and cashpoints across the country.
Bank of England bosses have hailed the new polymer note as the most secure it has ever produced, replacing the former £20 note featuring economist Adam Smith, which has become Britain’s most-forged banknote.
There are over two billion paper £20 notes in circulation and these can still be used as normal, with the Bank confirming it will give six months notice ahead of their legal tender being withdrawn.
The new £20 note sparked controversy among a number of vegan groups who slammed the use of animal by-products in its creation.
Available now: The all-new polymer £20 note featuring lauded artist J.M.W Turner has entered circulation
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The Bank expects half of all cash machines across the UK to be dispensing the polymer £20 banknotes in around two weeks time.
Turner’s self-portrait, as featured on the new £20 note, is on display at Tate Britain alongside the banknote.
The new note joins the Sir Winston Churchill £5 and the Jane Austen £10. A new £50 note, featuring Alan Turing, will follow in 2021.
What makes the new £20 note so secure?
The new £20 note is packed with security features aimed at thwarting counterfeiters and crooks.
It incorporates two see-through windows, a metallic hologram and under a good quality ultra-violet light, the number ’20’ appears in bright red and green on the front of the note, against a duller background.
The existing £20 note is the most common of the Bank’s notes in circulation, and also the most forged, making up around 88 per cent of detected banknote forgeries in the first half of this year according to Bank of England statistics.
The Bank says the print quality on the new note is ‘clear and free from smudges or blurred edges.’ If you use a magnifying glass you’ll be able to see the value of the note written in small letters and numbers below the Queen’s portrait.
Like the polymer £10, the new £20 note also has a tactile feature to help vision impaired people identify the denomination.
David Clarke, RNIB director of services, said: ‘Handling cash can often be a challenge if you’re blind or partially sighted, because it can be difficult to tell the difference between the different notes and coins.
‘We hope the creation of these notes will help enable people with sight loss to use money more easily and with confidence.’
Why was Turner chosen for the note?
The Bank chose Turner, who died in 1851, from a shortlist of visual artists which included filmmaker Charlie Chaplin, sculptor Barbara Hepworth, painter William Hogarth and designer Josiah Wedgwood.
Turner produced more than 550 oil paintings, 2,000 watercolours, and 30,000 sketches and drawings.
The man himself: Turner produced more than 550 oil paintings, 2,000 watercolours, and 30,000 sketches and drawings
Stunning: The new note depicts Turner’s celebrated painting the Fighting Temeraire
Turner in film: Timothy Spall played Turner in the 2014 film Mr. Turner
The new note depicts Turner’s celebrated painting the Fighting Temeraire – a tribute to the ship HMS Temeraire which played a role in Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
It was voted the nation’s favourite painting in a 2005 poll run by BBC Radio 4.
Key features of the new £20 note
Here are some of the main features of the new £20 note:
– A large see-through window with a blue and gold foil on the front depicting Margate lighthouse and Turner Contemporary. The foil is silver on the back. The shape of the large window is based on the shape of the fountains in Trafalgar Square.
– Turner’s self-portrait, painted around 1799 and currently on display in Tate Britain.
– One of Turner’s most celebrated paintings The Fighting Temeraire – a tribute to the ship HMS Temeraire which played a distinguished role in Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. It was voted the nation’s favourite painting in a BBC Radio 4 poll.
– A metallic hologram which changes between the word ‘twenty’ and ‘pounds’ when the note is tilted.
– A purple foil patch containing the letter ‘T’ and based on the staircase at Tate Britain.
– A quote ‘Light is therefore colour’ from an 1818 lecture by Turner referring to the use of light, shade, colour and tone in his pictures.
– Turner’s signature from his will, in which he bequeathed many of his paintings to the nation.
Other features of the new banknote include the quote: ‘Light is therefore colour’, taken from an 1818 lecture by Turner referring to the use of light, shade, colour and tone in his pictures.
Turner’s signature from his will, the document with which he bequeathed many of his paintings to the nation, also appears on the new note.
While unveiling the design of the new £20 note in October, the Bank’s governor Mark Carney said: ‘As the new Turner £20 testifies, money can be a work of art in everyone’s pocket.’
Why is the new note made out of a form of plastic?
The new £20 note is made from polymer, which is a thin and flexible plastic material. It contains traces of tallow, which is a substance made from animal fat.
It’s supposed to be more durable than paper and, in theory, less susceptible to counterfeiting.
A previous freedom of information request by the PA news agency found that nearly 50 million plastic £5 and £10 notes have had to be replaced since they were launched by the Bank of England due to wear and damage.
Around 20 million of the Bank’s new polymer £5 notes were replaced in the first three years since they were introduced.
And about another 26 million £10 notes were replaced in the two years since they were launched in September 2017.
The new £20 note is the third banknote to be made from polymer, following the new £5 note and new £10 note.
Banks in Northern Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man have also issued plastic banknotes in the past.
Who was JMW Turner?
JMW Turner is regarded as one of the finest landscape painters of his generation
Joseph Mallord William Turner was born in Covent Garden, London in 1775 and studied at the Royal Academy.
He was renowned for touring during the summer creating sketches which he would develop in his studio over the winter months.
His work soon attracted considerable attention and was regarded as one of the best painters of his generation.
By 1800, he was able to afford his own central London gallery where he displayed watercolours completed from the sketches during his earlier tours.
He was renowned for his English landscapes although in 1817 he visited Holland and Belgium to wander the site of the Battle of Waterloo, which resulted in his 1818 masterpiece The Field of Waterloo.
He also travelled widely in France and Italy to find inspiration for new artworks.
His painting the Fighting Temeraire – was inspired by a chance sighting of the vessel as it was being towed up the River Thames in 1839 by a steam tug where it was to be scrapped.
The HMS Temeraire was part of Nelson’s fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
He died in 1851.
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