England’s New £20 Banknote Featuring Painter Turner Enters Circulation
A new British banknote featuring a self-portrait by the 19th-century painter J.M.W. Turner entered circulation on Thursday.
The 20-pound note is the third to be made of durable polymer material rather than paper, following the launch of new five-pound and 10-pound notes in 2016 and 2017.
“Moving the 20-pound note to polymer marks a major step forward in our fight against counterfeiting,” the Bank of England’s Chief Cashier, Sarah John, said.
BoE Governor Mark Carney, who was due to launch the banknote at London’s Tate Britain gallery on Thursday, said Turner was “arguably the single most influential British artist of all time”.
Turner is best known for his seascapes, which grew more abstract with age.
As well as his self-portrait, the new note features one of Turner’s most famous paintings, “The Fighting Temeraire”, which depicts the last journey of a ship that played a key role in Britain’s naval victory over France in the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar.
A new polymer 50-pound note, featuring the 20th-century mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing, is due to enter circulation next year.
Fun facts about the £20
According to BBC, there are currently two billion £20 notes in circulation. If you laid them in a line, you could wrap them around the world nearly seven times. The £20 notes currently in circulation weigh 1,780 tons. That’s the same as 141 buses.
In the first half of last year, 88% of detected banknote forgeries were £20 notes, the Bank’s statistics show.
The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has been working with the Bank to make money accessible for people with sight loss.
The new note has tactile markings on it with three separate clusters of dots along the short edge to differentiate it from the £10 note, which has two clusters of dots. It is larger than both the £10 and £5 notes.
David Clarke, RNIB director of services, said: “Handling cash can often be a challenge if you’re blind or partially sighted, because it can be difficult to tell the difference between the different notes and coins. We hope the creation of these notes will help enable people with sight loss to use money more easily and with confidence.
“By incorporating tactile features on money, we are closer to creating a more inclusive society; it’s the small changes that can make a big difference to independent living.”