Money business can be funny business

Central Station | 22 Jul 2019

Some of the earliest surviving banknotes are among 325 objects unearthed by the Bank of England to celebrate its 325th anniversary.

Among exhibits are a 1702 40 note, which would be 9,000 (HK$87,000) now.

There is also a forged banknote, which first appeared in 1858 when a customer tried to exchange it for gold. It was stamped as counterfeit and handed back but reappeared in 1898 after being presented again.

Someone had painstakingly erased the stamp. This time the bank kept it.

"It's a intriguing story on how people always try their luck," said Jenni Adam, curator of the Bank of England Museum, noting that capital punishment was the penalty for counterfeit money until 1832.

The exhibition that runs until next May is not just coins, notes and gold bars but also artefacts.

A set of hand scales, pictured, for weighing and testing foreign gold and silver coins from 1749 sits alongside Roman relics and a Cold War radiation fallout calculator from 1959-1960.

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