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Thursday, 27 October 2016

388) Winston Churchill: A new 5 Pound circulating Polymer Banknote issued by the Bank of England on 13.09.2016:

388) Winston Churchill: A new 5 Pound circulating Polymer Banknote issued by the Bank of England on 13.09.2016:

A new polymer circulating Banknote was issued by Bank of England (BOE) depicting Winston Churchill on 13.09.2016 in Britain. This has primarily been necessitated, as Great Britain has circulation Banknotes which can be easily laundered.

Why was Churchill chosen?

Winston Churchill was one of the greatest statesmen of all time and is the only Prime Minister to win a Nobel Prize for Literature. In addition, he is said to be a kind of hero of the “entire free world”. It is believed by many that “his energy, courage, eloquence, wit and public service are an inspiration to all.”

Winston Churchill was named as the greatest Briton of all time in a 2002 poll and is widely regarded as the one of most influential people in British history.

Churchill once said “a nation that forgets its past has no future”.

 BOE Banknotes are supposedly “repositories” of the United Kingdom’s “collective memory” and are “testaments” to the outstanding achievements of the nation’s “greatest” individuals.

Interestingly, the Bank of England believes that like Churchill, the new polymer Banknote will also “stand the test of time”. It is cleaner, being more resilient to dirt and moisture and safer with better security features. It is stronger, making it longer and more environmentally friendly”.

The “murkier” side of Churchill’s character notwithstanding:

“Never was so much owed by one man to so many”:

Despite his life-long fame and upper-class origins, Churchill always struggled to keep his income at a level which would fund his extravagant life-style.

It is believed that though, Churchill was “respected and adored for his refusal to surrender” to the Axis forces – his principles extended to not giving up his cash to those whom he owed money.

He was notoriously wayward with money, spending tens of thousands of pounds and Indian Rupees on drink and gambling.

Interestingly, his financial situation also affected his love life, before his marriage to Clementine Hozier in 1904.

In 1896, Churchill arrived in Bangalore, India, as a young army officer and here he was trying to woo Pamela Plowden, the daughter of a British Civil servant.

In a letter addressed Pamela Plowden, Churchill is believed to have mentioned that he feared that his financial situation would be a threat to a marriage between them. Alarmed at his spendthrift and debt-ridden ways, she chose to marry elsewhere (the Earl of Lytton).

By 1898, he had run up several unpaid debts while on army service in Bangalore, whereafter,  he left to fight in the North-West Frontier, a couple of years later (now in Pakistan) in the Mohmand campaign in Malakand.

He also had outstanding debts at the Secunderabad Club, and the sum has grown into a substantial sum if calculated at present day valuation.

In June 1899, he is listed as one of the 17 defaulters for an unpaid bill of 13 rupees at the exclusive Bangalore Club formed by British Officers in 1868. The Club is today one of India’s most elite clubs. The Club’s records still show him as a defaulter. The Club authorities state that it is “seldom that the Prime Minister of a country would be owing something to a club in another country”. The Club ultimately wrote off the unrecovered sum from Churchill and the other defaulters “as unrecoverable”.

Henry Poole & Co., Saville Row’s first tailor, still has an outstanding bill of 197 pounds (roughly about 13,000 pounds – present day) over a bill to repair a Trinity House uniform, a minister’s uniform and a yachting cap for Churchill in 1937 as mentioned in the tailor’s archives/records.

In another South London business, he had outstanding bills too for repairs carried out to “Churchill’s satisfaction”. He failed to pay for the repair of his suit to Abe Green in South London during World War II, despite repeated requests/reminders.

In the Wall Street Crash of 1929, he lost around $50,000 (the equivalent of around 500,000 pounds today.

In his thirties, he is believed to have borrowed sums of money equivalent to 2.5 million pounds – at present day valuations - almost every year after his marriage, when he was raising his family of a wife and four children. He would take annual holidays to the South of France, where he would go on spending sprees at lavish casinos and felt no qualms about spending upto 40,000 pounds on such trips.

In a year when he vowed to cut down his drinking to win a bet with a friend who bet that Churchill could not do so, Churchill’s bills for alcohol came to about 900 pounds (equivalent of 54,000 Pounds today).

In gambling he lost some 66,000 Francs (about 55,000 Pounds) in a single holiday at a casino in Cannes in 1936, among other such indiscretions with spending huge sums of money.

He smoked about a dozen Havana cigars a day, a habit that he had inculcated during his deployment during the Cuban War of Independence in 1895, which cost him about 1,300 Pounds a month.

As a result of his financial indiscretions, he spent many years on the brink of financial ruin.

By 1939, just before his election as Prime Minister in 1940, his overdraft had reached 35,000 Pounds (equivalent to more than 2.00 million present day) and his creditors were raising demands of immediate payment of 12,000 Pounds to bring his outstanding credit within some kind of respectability (about 720,000 Pounds present day).

At the last minute, he was saved from bankruptcy by secret benefactors, after he refused to change his extravagant life-style.

In 1949, during a two-month period he along with his friends drank 454 bottles of champagne, 311 bottles of wine, 69 bottles of port, 58 bottles of brandy, 58 bottles of sherry and 56 bottles of Black Label whisky, running up a huge outstanding bill.

Most people assumed, given his flagrant life-style that he was very rich as such had no hesitation in providing him goods and services, only to learn of his extravagant ways and debts later.

Many Britons offer to clear his debts - present day,  but the descendants/managers of the creditors, prefer to show his legacy of outstanding debts in their books, rather than wiping them off their records.

Winston Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953:

Churchill was a prolific writer of books and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953 “for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exhalted human values”.

(Strangely, this citation, seems to be at variance with his approach to India’s Freedom Struggle from British Rule when he opposed Mahatma Gandhi’s peaceful civil disobedience movement in the 1920s and 1930s stating that the Round Table Conferences were a frightful prospect and the Mahatma Gandhi “ought to be lain bound hand and foot at the gates of Delhi, and then trampled on by an enormous elephant with the new Viceroy seated on its back”. He even favoured letting Mahatma Gandhi die, if he went on a hunger strike and he wanted Gandhism to be grappled and crushed at all cost. Arrogance, perhaps? Or the fear that the “Jewel in the British Crown” was fast slipping out of the clutches of the British Empire).

His other literary contributions included a novel, two biographies, three volumes of memoirs and several histories. Two of his most famous works, published after his first premiership were his six-volume memoir “The Second World War” and “A History of the English-Speaking Peoples”, a four volume history covering the period from “Caesar’s invasions of Britain (55 BC) to the beginning of the First World War (1914)”. A number of volumes of Churchill’s speeches were also published in the USA titled “Blood, Sweat and Tears”.

Royalties from these works earned him some money, but these were not enough to finance his lavish life-style, with the result he was always in debt or not in a position to pay his outstanding bills.

Winston Churchill, as an officer in the British army had been in about 50 armed conflicts in at least four theatres with the adversaries of the British Empire – in Afghanistan, in Africa, in Egypt etc. and was always in the thick of battle, sometimes against overwhelming odds.
 The Front Cover of the compilation of four volumes written by Winston Churchill titled “Frontiers and Wars” from the library of my friend Dennis Ksing.
 The Back Cover of the four story compilation of Winston Churchill’s works reads:

“Frontiers and Wars” brings together Sir Winston Churchill’s splendid early works, which he wrote as a soldier and war correspondent in the far reaches of the British Empire at the turn of the century. Here in their entirety are “The Story of the Malakand Field Force” a thrilling report of frontier warfare in British India, “The River War” covering the history of the Sudan, the rise of Arab nationalism and battles with the British and Egyptian forces, “London to Ladysmith” with its vivid account of the author’s capture by the Boers and his escape during the South African War and “Hamilton’s March”, a dramatic narrative of the fortunes of General Hamilton’s army after the relief of Ladysmith.”
 The circulating 5 Pounds Banknote issued by Bank of England (BOE):

 The Front of the new 5 Pounds Banknote issued in September 2016 by Bank of England (BOE), inter alia, depicting QE II
On the Front of the new Polymer 5 Pound Banknote is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II with the words “5 Pounds” (in words & symbol), “Bank of England”. Around the Queen’s portrait is depicted the symbol “5” several times, together with the initials of her name “EIIR”.
 The Back of the new 5 Pounds Banknote issued in September 2016 by Bank of England (BOE), inter alia depicting Winston Churchill. The serial number of this Banknote is AE55 766196. At the bottom is written "The Governor & Company of the Bank of England".

On the Back of the new Polymer 5 Pound Banknote is depicted:

A portrait of Winston Churchill from a photograph taken in Ottawa by Yousuf Karsh on 30.12.1941, together with a view of Westminster and the Elizabeth Tower from with the hands of the Great Clock, Big Ben, at 3.00 o’clock – the approximate time on 13.05.1940, when Winston Churchill declared in a speech to the House of Commons: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat”. This declaration is quoted beneath the portrait (No wonder, he had no money to pay up his various outstanding debts accumulated through his lavish life-style. Perhaps, the new Polymer Banknote depicting him could be used by the British government to pay his outstanding debts and clear his name as a “defaulter” in all such cases).

A background image of the Nobel Prize medal which he was awarded in 1953 for literature, together with the wordings of the prize citation. The trademark Nobel Prize has been reproduced with permission from the Nobel Foundation.
This Banknote has been printed by  De La Rue, the Banknote printing major, who have co-ordinated with the Bank of England to incorporate several innovative features in this Banknote, to thwart counterfeiters.

Some Security Features on this Banknote:

The Polymer Banknotes last 2 ½ to 3 times longer than the presently circulating Banknotes and the “new fiver” is expected to last at least for five years. By 2015, anti-counterfeiting measures had reduced the incidence of counterfeiting in this denomination to around 0.0075%.

 The new Bank of England (BOE) 5 Pound Banknotes also have several security features which will “raise the bar” for counterfeiters and can better withstand being repeatedly folded into wallets or scrunched up inside pockets and can also survive a spin in the washing machine. Some of these are a see-through window depicting Queen Elizabeth II’s portrait and a picture of Big Ben in gold foil.

See-through window: There is a large see-through window on the Banknote. A clearly defined portrait of the Queen is printed on the window with the words “5 Pounds Bank of England” printed twice around the edge.

Elizabeth Tower: A finely detailed metallic image of the Elizabeth Tower is positioned over the window. The foil is Gold on the front of the Banknote and Silver on the Back of the Banknote. When the Banknote is tilted, a multi-coloured rainbow effect can be seen.

Coloured border: Around the edge of the window is a coloured border which changes from purple to green when the Banknote is tilted. The Pound symbol in the window also changes from purple to green. This effect can be seen on the Front and Back of the Banknote.

Foil Patches: On the front of the Banknote, below the see-through window, is a silver foil patch. When the Banknote is tilted the word “Five” changes to “Pounds” and a multi-coloured rainbow effect can be seen.

On the Front of the Banknote, above the see-through window, is a silver foil patch containing an image of the coronation crown which appears in 3D. When the Banknote is tilted, a multi-coloured rainbow effect can be seen.

On the Back of the Banknote, there is a circular green foil patch which contains the word “BLENHEIM”. It is immediately behind the crown on the front.

Checking the polymer and the raised print: The Banknote is printed on polymer which is a thin and flexible plastic material. By running one’s finger across the Front of the Banknote, one can feel the raised print in areas such as the words “Bank of England” and in the bottom right corner, around the number “5”.

The print quality: The printed lines and colours on the Banknote are sharp, clear and free from smudges or blurred edges.

Micro-lettering: By using a magnifying glass, by looking closely beneath the Queen’s portrait on can see the value of the Banknote written in small letters and numbers.

Polymer Banknotes are manufactured from a transparent plastic film, specially coated with an ink layer that enables it to carry the printed design features of Banknotes.

Introduction of Bank of England 10 Pounds Banknotes in the near future:

The 10 Pound Bank of England polymer Banknote will feature Jane Austen and will be issued in the summer of 2017, while the new polymer 20 Pound Banknote will feature JMW Turner and will be issued by 2020. All these Banknotes will be smaller by around 15% from presently circulating Banknotes.

Bank of England has presently deferred taking a decision on the 50 Pound Banknote and will take a decision to print it in polymer or not, in due course after seeing the experience of the smaller denominations.

The Bank of England will initially issue 440 million of the new 5 Pound Banknotes, while the old Banknotes, portraying Elizabeth Fry will cease to be legal tender on 05.05.2017 and be withdrawn from circulation.

The Three Scottish Banks will also be issuing 5 and 10 Pounds Polymer Banknotes:

The three Scottish Banknote issuing Banks are also printing their next 5 and 10 Pound circulation polymer Banknotes – Clydesdale Bank has issued their circulation Polymer 5 Pound Banknote on 27.09.2016, Bank of Scotland on 04.10.2016 while Royal Bank of Scotland will issue their 5 Pound polymer Banknote on 27.10.16. The three Banks will also issue their new polymer 10 Pound Banknotes in September-October 2017.

The 5 Pounds Banknotes issued by the Scottish Banks will have the dimensions of 125 mm x 65 mm and the 10 Pounds Banknotes will measure 132 mm x 69 mm.

Clydesdale Bank, Scotland has issued Great Britain’s first ever Polymer Banknote in the denomination of 5 Pounds in March 2015:

Interestingly, the credit of issuing the first polymer 5 Pound Banknote goes to Clydesdale Bank. 

For Clydesdale Bank’s first ever Polymer Five Pound Banknote, celebrated the 125th Anniversary of one of the greatest innovative Scottish achievements – Sir William Arrol’s Forth Bridge with the image of the iconic Forth Bridge (on the Back) and the Engineer whose company built the bridge,  Sir William Arrol (on the Front). For more on this Banknote, please read my post:

Apparently, the Bank of England issue of Winston Churchill's 5 Pounds Banknote has managed to beat Clydesdale Bank to the issue of a Polymer Circulating Banknote.

Why Polymer Banknotes?

Polymer Banknotes are:

- Resistant to dirt and moisture so they stay cleaner for longer than paper Banknotes.

- More secure so will provide enhanced counterfeit resilience.

- They are more environmentally friendly than paper due to their durability. Polymer Banknotes last at least two and a half times longer than paper Banknotes which make them more environmentally friendly.

-These Banknote differs from regular paper Banknotes in that it is smaller, stronger, cleaner and made of plastic, resulting in more safe and secure banking.

- Polymer Banknotes are also better for the environment, because, the issuing Bank has to print fewer Banknotes, which translates into less energy being used in manufacturing and cash transportation. When a polymer Banknote reaches the end of its life cycle, it can be recycled into new plastic products. As such Bank of England will be issuing their next 5, 10 and 20 Pound Banknotes on polymer, a thin flexibly plastic, because polymer Banknotes last longer, stay cleaner and are harder to counterfeit than paper Banknotes.

Blenheim Palace – The ancestral Residence of Winston Churchill:

Blenheim Castle was built in the early 18th Century to celebrate the victory over the French in the War of Spanish Succession.

In particular, it was built as a gift from Queen Anne to the 1st Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, the military commander who led the Allied forces in the Battle of Blenheim on 13.08.1704.  The Queen granted his family the ruined Manor and park at Woodstock alongwith 240,000 pounds which was to build a house to mark the occasion.

The palace is also the birthplace and ancestral home of Winston Churchill and it was here that Winston proposed to Clementine Hozier in the Temple of Diana on the estate.

He always maintained that two of the best things in his life happened at the Blenheim Palace – it was here that he was born and it was here that he proposed to his would be wife Clementine.

 Differently coloured coasters depicting Blenheim Palace, from the collection of Dennis and Maggie Ksing, who purchased it from a Souvenir shop while on a visit to the Blenheim Palace

(The above Banknote has been brought for my collection by Jayant Biswas collected during his travels to the United Kingdom recently. Images scanned and post researched and written by Rajeev Prasad)


Bank of England Banknotes:

1) A Ten Pounds Banknote issued on Charles Dickens (Writer) also depicting a cricket match from his novel "The Pickwick Papers"

2) A Ten Pound Banknote issued on Charles Darwin (English Naturalist) also depicting the HMS Beagle, Darwin's magnifying glass, a humming-bird & flora that he may have seen on his voyage.

3) A Five Pounds Banknote issued on George Stephenson (an Engineer) also depicting "Rocket" his Railway Locomotive and Skeene Bridge on theStockton Darlington Railway (1825) - since withdrawn

4) A 20 Pounds Banknote issued on Michael Faraday (a Scientist) issued in 1991, since withdrawn from circulation in 2001 

5) Great Britain's first circulating polymer Banknote issued by the Bank of England in the denomination of 5 Pounds on 13.09.2016

Inspirations from Scottish History (Clydesdale Bank Banknotes): 

1) The Legend of King Bruce & the Spider on Banknotes
2) Commemorating Sir William Arrol and his creation the Forth Rail Bridge by issues of Britain's first ever 5 Pound Polymer Banknote

Banknotes from Bank of Scotland:

1) The Ryder Cup Commemorative Banknote: A 5 Pounds Banknote issued by the Royal Bank of Scotland in 2014 

British Crown Dependencies:

1) Specimen Banknotes from the States of Jersey

2) Coinage and Currency from the States of Jersey

3) Currency & Coinage of the Bailiwick of Guernsey

4) Currency & Coinage of Gibraltar : An Overseas Territory of Great Britain

5) Coinage of Gibraltar: (A British Overseas Territory): An Uncirculated Decimal Coin Collection Set minted by the Tower Mint, UK in 2010
6) The Isle of Man: An Uncirculated Decimal Coin Collection Set minted by Pobjoy Mint, UK in 2015

7) The Centenary of the ill-fated Titanic (15.04.1912 - 15.04.2012): An Alderney Five Pound Coin Commemorating the Maritime Legend

8) "Man of Steel": A Superman Movie: A set of stamps brought out in 2013 by Jersey post, the States of Jersey, commemorating Henry William Dalgliesh Cavill who played Superman in the Movie

9) Coins & Currency of Bermuda

10) The Bailiwick of Jersey - Presently circulating coinage - Pounds and Pence 

11) St. Helena & Ascension Islands: An Uncirculated Coin Set from 2003 

12) The Legend of the "HMAV Bounty" is interwoven with the heritage of the Pitcairn Islands: An uncirculated coin set from Pitcairn Islands in 2009 depicting the icons/relics of the Bounty minted by the New Zealand Mint

13) Currency of the Falkland Islands: A British Overseas Territory (BOT) Pounds & Pence

Famous Battles

1) Bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo and Napoleon's Exile to St. Helena: (Part I): A One Crown Commemorative coin issued by the Ascension Island (minted by Pobjoy Mint UK) 

2) Bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo and Napoleon's Exile to st. Helena: (Part II) 1) A 5 GBP Coin issued by the Royal Mint UK. 2) A"Drie Landen Zilverset" ( ot the "Three Lands Silver set") containing coins issued by the Royal Dutch Mint including coins of Netherlands, Belgium and UK

3) Commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain by issuing a 50 Pence coin by the Royal Mint UK

Gold Coins:
1) Gold Sovereigns issued in 2013 & 2014 by MMTC-PAMP in India under licence from the Royal Mint, UK, carrying the "I" Mint Mark

2) Gold Half-Sovereigns minted by MMTC-PAMP in India in 2014 under licence from the Royal Mint UK bearing the "I" Mint Mark 

Silver Coins:

1) A 20 Pound Silver coin minted for the first timr by the royal Mint UK: reverse design carries the famous St. George slaying the dragon design found on Gold Sovereigns 

British India Coinage:

 1) East India Company Quarter Anna Copper Coin which is one of the first issues under the Coinage Act 1835

2) Victoria Coinage: When she was Queen and afterwards Empress

3) Edward VII: King & Emperor  Coinage

4) George V King Emperor Coinage

5) George VI: The last of the British India Emperors Coinage 

Other British Royalty: 

1) Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee Celebrations (1952-2012): A Five Pound Commemorative coin issued by the Royal Mint, UK

2) Commemorating Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation in 1953: A Five Pound Coin minted by the Royal Mint UK in 2013, depicting the Imperial State Crown

3) The Royal Coat of Arms of the UK: Great British 2012 Coin Set (Uncirculated) issued by the Royal Mint UK

4) Prince George's Christening Ceremony celebrated with coins issued by the Royal Mint UK in 2013

5) The British Empire:  A Case of Numismatic "segregation": (Guest Post by Rahul Kumar)

6) 1) The Portrait Collection: Various Portraits of Queen Elizabeth II on Coinage 2) The Fourth & Final Circulating coinage of the Portrait designed by Ian Rank-Broadley and the First Edition of the portrait of the Queen made by Jody Clark

 British Coinage:

1) The contribution of the Great British One-Pound coins in keeping alive the historical legends/emblems/heritage of the UK (1983 onwards)

2) Transformation of a Five shilling Coin (Crown) into the UK Twenty-five Pence & then the Five Pound Coin

3) Transformation of the Two Shilling Coin (Florin) Coin into the UK Ten Pence

4) The 350th Anniversary of the Guinea: A Two Pound Coin issued by the Royal Mint UK celebrating the milestone

 Commemorative British Coinage:

 1) Commemorating the Bicentenary of Charles Dickens: A Two pound coin celebrating his literary contributions during the Victorian Era

 2) Commemorating 50 Years of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) - presently called the World Wide Fund for Nature by issue of a Fifty Pence coin by the Royal Mint, UK

3) Coins commemorating London Olympics & Paralympics (2012)

4) Commemorating 150 Years of the London Underground : Two pound Coins minted by the Royal Mint UK, showing the "Roundel" logo and a train emerging from a tunnel 

5) Commemorating the 100th Birth anniversary of Christopher Ironside with his" Royal Arms" design on a 50 Pence coin issued by the Royal Mint, UK 

Postage Stamps:

1) 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta - the Universal Guidepost to Liberty and Freedom

 2) "Man of Steel": A Superman Movie: A set of stamps brought out in 2013 by Jersey post, the States of Jersey, commemorating Henry William Dalgliesh Cavill who played Superman in the Movie

3) Celebrating the Centenary of Agatha Christie's first Crime Novel and 40th Anniversary of her passing away by issue of a set of 6 stamps by Royal Mail, UK 


  1. Punam Saxena has commented:
    "I've often wondered at his popularity".

    1. I don't blame the Brits. Supposedly he is the best they have to offer as a replacement for Elizabeth Fry , the well known English prison reformer, social reformer and, as a Quaker, a Christian philanthropist who is also referred to as the "angel of prisons", on the presently circulating fiver.