Banknote feature JONATHAN CALLAWAY
THE CLYDESDALE BANK’S “FAMOUS SCOTS” SERIES 1971–2007
N 1969 there were ﬁve Scottish banknote issuers but a year later this had fallen to three, the current total. While the Clydesdale Bank had been a spectator as these mergers took place, it decided to follow suit with its rivals, the Bank of Scotland and the Royal Bank of Scotland, and prepare a new series of banknotes. In the case of the Clydesdale, the theme of Famous Scots was chosen. This gave rise to a long lasting and much collected series which has only recently been replaced. The series started with ﬁve notes but later a sixth was added. The ﬁrst to appear were £1 notes with a portrait of Robert the Bruce and £5 notes with a portrait of Robert Burns. Both these notes were dated March 1, 1971 and were signed by Sir Robert Duncan Fairbairn, a famous sportsman in his day who played cricket, football and golf to a high standard. As well as footballing stints with St Johnstone and Partick Thistle (a claim few top bankers could make!) he appeared for both Cheshire and Yorkshire cricket clubs, as well as the Scottish national cricket team, before turning to golf. As captain of Troon Golf Club he had the honour of presenting the Open Championship trophy to the winner Tom Watson when the competition was held there in 1982. By the time the ﬁrst £10, £20 and £100 notes appeared, all dated March 1, 1972, Fairbairn, who had started his long career with the Clydesdale in 1927, had retired and the new notes were signed by Alexander Ross Macmillan. He too had had a long career in banking, joining the North of Scotland Bank in 1938 in Tain, a town which granted him Freedom of the Royal Burgh in 1975. The £10 note featured the explorer David Livingstone while both the £20 and £100 notes featured Lord Kelvin, the mathematician and physicist born William Thomson in Belfast in 1824. He was Professor of Natural Philosophy at Glasgow University for a remarkable 53 years and made major contributions to submarine telegraphy and thermodynamics. The Kelvin temperature scale is named after him. Macmillan inherited Fairbairn’s post as General Manager but he was further elevated to Chief General Manager in 1974 necessitating a minor change to the notes. In 1981 a £50 note was added to the series, featuring Adam Smith, the political economist and author of the seminal and still inﬂuential work
The Wealth of Nations which was published in 1776. Smith became the ﬁrst man to be honoured on banknotes north and south of the border when he was chosen to appear on the current Bank of England £20 note. It is not expected that a Scottish bank will be quick to reciprocate and honour an Englishman, though! In 1982 the Limited in the bank’s title was amended to PLC on all the notes. The opportunity was also taken to add the word STERLING to the denomination text and to add the £ symbol to the value panels on the front and reverse of the notes. Macmillan’s signature continued to appear on the notes but he retired a year later in 1983 and was replaced by Arthur Richard Cole-Hamilton, an accountant who switched from the family accounting ﬁrm to banking in 1967. Another keen golfer, he is a member of several clubs and was Captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews for the year 2004/2005. Smaller changes now appeared: on the £1 and £5 notes the magnetic sorting codes were dropped from the reverse of the notes in 1985. These codes had ﬁrst been used in 1967 but new technology had rendered them superﬂuous and so they were removed; they had never appeared on the higher denominations whose much lower circulation volumes did not warrant their use. The same year, Thomas De La Rue, the engravers and printers of all the notes in this series, decided to introduce their special preﬁx system for identifying replacement notes. These had ﬁrst appeared in Scotland in 1970 on Bank of Scotland notes but for some reason it took another ﬁfteen years for them to be used on the Clydesdale’s. For the Clydesdale, the identifying preﬁx was D/ZZ and this has been recorded on the £1, £5, £10 and £20 notes. Only those on the £1 note are at all easy to ﬁnd and the others can command high prices when they come on to the market.
Despite the preﬁx this note is not a replacement. Macmillan signs as Chief General Manager.
The ﬁrst £1 note was signed by Sir Robert Duncan Fairbairn.
The ﬁrst replacement note was signed by Cole-Hamilton.
British Coin Magazine