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Pound Sterling- general information

Quick links to banknotes:
- 5 Pound Sterling note
- 10 Pound Sterling note
- 20 Pound Sterling note
- 50 Pound Sterling note

The pound sterling (ISO code: GBP), commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies (the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands) and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands,British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence (singular: penny). A number of nations that do not use sterling also have currencies called the "pound". Sterling is the fourth most traded currency in the foreign exchange market, after the US dollar, the euro and the Japanese yen. Together with those three currencies it forms the basket of currencies which calculate the value of IMF Special Drawing Rights, with an 11.3% weighting as of 2011. Sterling is also the third most held reserve currency in global reserves.

The Bank of England has been issuing banknotes for over 300 years. During that time, both the notes themselves and their role in society have undergone continual change. From today's perspective, it is easy to accept that a piece of paper that costs a few pence to produce is worth five, ten, twenty or fifty pounds. Gaining and maintaining public confidence in the currency is a key role of the Bank of England and one which is essential to the proper functioning of the economy.

All current Bank of England banknotes are printed by contract with De La Rue at Debden, Essex. They include the printed signature of the Chief Cashier of the Bank of England. All the notes issued since Series C in 1960 also depict Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom in full view facing left and as a watermark, hidden, facing right; more recent issues also include the EURion constellation. The custom of depicting historical figures on the reverse began in 1970 with Series D, designed by the bank's first permanent artist, Harry Eccleston. The Bank of England Series D £1 note was discontinued in 1984, having been replaced by a pound coin the year before.

The notes currently in circulation are as follows:

£5 note depicting Elizabeth Fry, showing a scene with her reading to prisoners in Newgate Prison

£10 note depicting Charles Darwin, a hummingbird and the HMS Beagle

£20 note, depicting Adam Smith with an illustration of 'The division of labour in pin manufacturing'. It also includes enhanced security features. This, the first note from the new Series F, entered circulation on 13 March 2007

£50 note depicting Matthew Boulton and James Watt, with steam engine and Boulton's Soho factory

A newly designed £5 banknote is to be issued in 2016. It will feature the 1941 Yousuf Karsh photographic portrait of Sir Winston Churchill, a view of the Palace of Westminster, and Churchill's 1953 Nobel Prize for Literature medal. A newly designed £10 banknote, featuring novelist Jane Austen, is expected to be issued in 2017. Both new notes are to be made from polymer rather than cotton paper.
In 2015, the Bank of England launched a public competition to nominate historic personalities with links to the visual arts for a future redesign of the £20 banknote. The Governor of the Bank of England asked the public to "think beyond the obvious" when nominating suggestions, with over 29,700 nominations finally made. The new note is expected to be issued in 2020.

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