You Won’t Believe What Old Banknotes Once Looked Like

Did you know that the paper money that we know and love (but never quite seem to have enough of!) originated in Britain during the 17th Century? Well, actually the first recorded use of paper money was in China during the 7th century, but its use was not widespread until nearly a thousand years later.

A Brief History Of The English Banknote

Money in Britain back then was not in general circulation but was given to goldsmith bankers as a receipt for depositing gold. The Bank of England, when it first started in 1694, would also issue notes or receipts for any cash (coin) deposits. These notes would feature the words ‘or the bearer’ and a promise was made by the bank to the depositor to pay up when the depositor brought back their receipt or note from the bank – this is where the term bank note comes from.

It was during the 18th century that fixed denominations came in. On these notes the £ sign and the first digit were printed on the note whilst other details such as the exact figure and the payee’s name would be written on by hand. Some notes would be made out in uneven amounts, but on the most part they were made out to round sums of money. By the year 1745, banknotes were being printed in denominations ranging from £20 to £1000.

Here is the oldest known banknote issued by the Bank of England in 1699.

Here is the original one pound note from around 1797. It went through several changes between the years of 1779 and 1821 and further changes until its withdrawal in 1988 when the one pound coin was introduced.

When Not To Send Us Your Unwanted Currency

At Cash4Coins we are always encouraging you to send us your foreign coins so that we can turn them into real money that you can use, and that applies to withdrawn notes too! However,  we probably would have refrained when it comes to the bank note below. This withdrawn five pound note from 1913 was sold at auction for £1,700!

Do you have any old banknotes at home? We’d love to see some photos of your collection or to hear any stories about old money that you can share with us. Have you ever sold a note or coin at auction or bought a special coin for your collection?  Send us your stories and photos and we will publish them on our blog and our social media page. Get in touch with us today by calling us on 0161 635 0000 or emailing us at

Exchange Foreign Currency The Easy Way With Cash4Coins

Remember, we exchange any foreign currency regardless of the country it came from or whether it is still legal tender. Why not take a look in old drawers or travel wallets today to see how much you could make on the money that you are otherwise not using?  You might be surprised at how much you get back. It’s easy to exchange your foreign currency and you could have the money in your bank account very quickly.

Written by Dave Barker. Dave Barker is a currency specialist and writes on a number of topics relating to the history of currency and how to make the most of your unwanted foreign coins and notes. You can find him on Google+.


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