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When the European Summit meeting took place in Edinburgh in 1992, the Royal Bank marked the occasion with a suitably unique memento: Britain's (and the European Union's) first commemorative banknote.
The front of the note carried the dates of the meeting, an engraving of the venue, the Palace of Holyroodhouse and a lithoprinted colour version of the European Union flag. The numbers of the two million notes issued all bore a special EC prefix. In paperweight form, Number 1992001 was presented to the 1992 President, John Major, and subsequent numbers went to the European heads of government. The note bearing EC 1992000 was in the following year presented to Her Majesty the Queen when she opened Drummond House, the Royal Bank's new administrative centre, at South Gyle in Edinburgh.
In 1994, an impressively wide variety of events took place in Edinburgh to mark the centenary of the death of one of the city's most internationally known sons - the famous author Robert Louis Stevenson. The Royal Bank marked the occasion by issuing on 3 December 1994 Britain's second commemorative banknote. Unlike the 1992 commemorative banknote, this one involved not just a symbol on the face of the note but also a complete redesign of the reverse.
A new engraving of Stevenson was the centrepiece of the design which included his early home in Edinburgh and his final home on Samoa as well as a whirl of the characters and events created by his fertile imagination. Again the two million notes bore a distinctive numbering system, this time using the prefix RLS. The first note to be printed was rushed off to be in Samoa for the centenary celebrations on 3 December 1994.
In 1847, the most influential of all Scottish inventors was born just off Charlotte Square in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town. The Royal Bank marked the 150th anniversary with its third commemorative banknote. Appropriately for such an imaginative thinker as Bell, the note is the first in the European Union to carry a hologram. The front of the note features Bell's name and dates, an ancient telephone and the trail-blazing hologram added to the Royal Bank's usual £1 note design.
The reverse showed users of the telephone over the ages, a wave signal for 'telephone' and a schematic drawing of a telephone receiver. It also depicted Bell's other interests, with birds which he studied to understand flight (he worked with the Wright brothers), sheep which helped him to understand genetics and geometric shapes which he used to develop engineering structures. Bell always described himself as a teacher of the deaf, not an inventor. The design acknowledged this, showing sign language, Bell and his young deaf wife and the phonetic alphabet developed by his father.
Appropriately, the collectors' packs of the banknote featuring Bell were sold to raise funds for ChildLine, the nationwide telephone based charity to help children under threat.
The note was issued on 12 May 1999 to mark the first meeting of the new Parliament. The front of the note incorporated a saltire integrated into the border, above which a silhouette of the Church of Scotland Assembly Hall replaced that of Edinburgh Castle. The line 'Commemorating the First Meeting of the Scottish Parliament' and the date of the meeting also appeared.
The back of the note shows a vignette of the temporary home at the Assembly Hall contrasting with an aerial view of the new Scottish Parliament building. The bottom border contained the words 'Scottish Parliament Building' in the font used by the architect.
The note was issued on 5 August 2000 to mark the 100th birthday of the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. The Queen Mother's family, the Earls of Strathmore, have banking connections with the Royal Bank's Drummonds Bank going back to the first half of the 18th century. In addition to the commemorative text, appropriate date and distinctive serial numbers beginning with the letters QEQTM, the front of the note shows the Queen Mother's crown in intaglio gold and a silver metallic symbol showing the value or crown according to viewing angle.
The back of the note features a hand engraved portrait of the Queen Mother, art nouveau patterns and images to reflect the style of her year of birth, the laurel and thistle associated with royalty in Scotland, a cameo portrait of Her Majesty then Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon at the age of six and an engraving of Glamis castle, her childhood home in Tayside which has featured on the Royal Bank's £10 notes since 1972.
The note was the first to be signed by Chief Executive Fred Goodwin, who in the 1990s signed Clydesdale Bank notes. This is therefore the first time that a banker has been the signatory on notes issued by two unconnected banks.
This banknote, issued on 27 May 2002, was designed to mark the 50th anniversary of the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The date on the note is 6 February 2002, the anniversary of the day of Her Majesty's succession to the throne. The notes have distinctive serial numbers beginning with the letters TQGJ, the initials of The Queen's Golden Jubilee.
The main feature of the front of the note is the official crown emblem of the Golden Jubilee on the left, near the watermark area.
The back of the note features two hand-engraved portraits of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. One shows Her Majesty as she appeared at the time of the coronation and the second depicts a recent image in a less formal style. At the top right of the note is an engraving of the Rose Window from Westminster Abbey, the place of the Coronation. The pattern in the border to the left of the portraits is composed of elements based on the Order of the Thistle.
The £5 note was issued on 14 May 2004, the exact date of the 250th anniversary of the foundation of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews. The front of the note features the official crest of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews printed in intaglio gold ink. Otherwise this face is similar in design to our £5 notes currently in circulation.
The reverse of the note has, however, been completely redesigned and features the clubhouse of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, the 18th green on the Old Course, the Captains' silver clubs and golf balls, the Claret Jug and a portrait of Old Tom Morris. The abbreviated initials of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A) have been used as the basis of the prefix for the serial number of the notes.
The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh quincentenary, 2005
The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh is the oldest incorporated medical organisation in the world. To mark its 500th anniversary, a special £5 note was issued on 1 July 2005, featuring the College's quincentenary crest in gold on the front. The serial number prefix is RCS, standing for Royal College of Surgeons.
Jack Nicklaus, 2005
This note was issued on 14 July 2005, the first day of the 2005 Open at St Andrews. It marks the remarkable career of Jack Nicklaus, who has won the Open three times, including twice at St Andrews.
The front of the note features the Nicklaus Golden Bear logo and the serial number prefix JWN, standing for Jack William Nicklaus. The reverse shows images of Nicklaus holding the Claret Jug and playing a shot on his way to victory in 1978. The Royal & Ancient Clubhouse at St Andrews is depicted in the top left corner, and in the bottom left, Nicklaus' winning scores at St Andrews in 1970 and 1978. In the bottom right corner, a card of the course for the 2005 Open is shown.
This note was issued on 14 September 2005, the date of the official opening of the Gogarburn campus in Edinburgh by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness Prince Philip.
The main vignette is an aerial view of the building and the note also features the main entrance. The background pattern work is based on the overall layout of the building. The serial number prefix is RBS.