Managing to last slightly longer than the Half Penny Coin, the One Pound Note was the second of the UK’s legal tender (after decimalisation) to be phased out of circulation. The main reason for it’s demise was the introduction of the One Pound Coin in 1983, which whilst slightly more expensive to manufacture could last for up to 50 times longer than it’s paper equivalent. The note managed to cling on to a place in our wallets until 1988, when on March 11th it was no longer considered a part of the British currency system.
Surprisingly enough, one of the biggest advocates for keeping the old note was Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who believed the new coinage was not popular with the British public and that the note would be retained. However, it was extremely popular with manufacturers of vending machines and other automated systems, as it was much easier to check for than a note, and also with the blind, who found it much easier to recognise by touch than the old note.
The old note featured a very young looking Queen Elizabeth II sitting proudly on the front, printed in green ink. The reverse was more of a greyish brown colour, and featured Sir Isaac Newton, sitting beneath a tree of sorts, although sadly not obviously an apple tree, given that this was how he was supposed to have discovered gravity.
I still have a sentimental place in my heart for the One Pound Note though. When you were a kid and you received cards through the post you could always tell with pound coins whether there was any money inside, it was pretty obvious due to the weight and the bump in the envelope. Pound notes meant that until the card was finally opened there was still a chance that some birthday cash might flutter out.
For a final interesting tale about the One Pound Note, check out this report I found on the BBC News website about some pound notes that turned up in Canada. Seems these notes got stuck in the bottom of a till in a Bureau de Change, and they ended up coming over to the UK with the writer of the article only to find they weren’t legal tender. It goes on to tell a great tale about a shop assistant in her 20’s thinking they were some kind of new note, and an attempt to sell then notes on eBay.