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Bank of England 10s note

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67 mm

Years of printing

140 mm

Paper type

Queen Elizabeth II

Bank of England 10s note

The Bank of England 10s note was a banknote of the pound sterling. Ten shillings in pre-decimal money (written 10s or 10/-) was equivalent to half of one pound. The ten-shilling note was the smallest denomination note ever issued by the Bank of England. The note was issued by the Bank of England for the first time in 1928 and continued to be printed until 1969. The note ceased to be legal tender in 1970 and was removed in favour of the fifty pence coin.



In the 18th and 19th centuries, banknotes were handwritten or part-printed and could be exchanged, in whole or in part, for an equivalent amount of gold when presented at the bank. During the First World War the British Government wanted to maintain its stocks of bullion and so banks were ordered stop exchanging banknotes for gold. One pound and 10 shillings notes were introduced by the Treasury in lieu of gold sovereigns. These notes were nicknamed "Bradburys" because of the prominent signature of Sir John Bradbury, Permanent Secretary to the Treasury displayed on the notes. Britain returned to the gold standard in 1925, although the Bank of England was only obliged to exchange notes for gold in multiples of 400 ounces or more. The responsibility for the printing of ten-shilling notes was transferred to the Bank of England in 1928, and the ability to redeem banknotes for gold ceased in 1931 when Britain stopped using the gold standard.

The first Bank of England ten-shilling notes were two-sided, red, printed banknotes featuring the declaration "I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of ten shillings" on the front. This declaration remains on Bank of England banknotes to this day. In 1940, following the outbreak of the Second World War, ten-shilling notes were issued in a new mauve and grey colour scheme in order to deter counterfeiters, although the design remained the same. At the same time, a metallic thread running through the paper was introduced as a security feature. After the war ten-shilling notes were issued in their original red colour. The earliest post-World War II notes did not have the metallic thread security feature, but those issued from October 1948 onward did.

A new design for ten-shilling notes was introduced in 1961, with the old notes ceasing to be legal tender in 1962. These new series C notes were slightly longer and narrower, and were the first ten-shilling notes to feature a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the front. The reverse design incorporated the logo of the Bank of England. In the late 1960s it was decided that future banknotes should feature a British historical figure on the reverse. The first such note was the series D £20 note, first issued in 1970, featuring William Shakespeare. A design for a ten-shilling note featuring Walter Raleigh on the reverse was approved in 1964 but was never issued. Instead, in 1969, as part of the process of decimalisation a new fifty pence coin was introduced as a replacement for the ten-shilling note. The principal reason for the change was to save the Treasury money – the notes had an average lifetime of about five months whereas coins could last at least fifty years. The series C ten shillings notes ceased to be legal tender on 22 November 1970.


Information taken from Bank of England website.


Bank of England 10s note Wikipedia

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