My £5 banknote suggestion

The series of banknotes known as “Series F” was launched two years ago with the distinctive purple/blue redesign of the £20. This features Adam Smith, economist and so-called “grandfather of capitalism”.

Last month, the Bank of England announced the new £50 will feature, for the first time, two Britons on the reverse; James Watt and Matthew Boulton. To keep the conspiracy theorists amused, the note will have the quote “I sell what all the world desires to have… POWER” on the reverse, ellipsis and capitals included.

This timetable suggests the Olympic year of 2012 – oh, now there’s a subject for discussion – will be the next launch date, possibly for the fiver currently showcasing Elizabeth Fry. Having considered the number of people it would be appropriate to highlight – and clearly Brunel is going to have to wait his turn for the high value denominations he deserves – I have found someone who could be the perfect “new face”.

Ignatius Sancho is the composer, writer, and actor I had never heard of before: indeed, the reported first ever black voter in an English election, a claim I had never been made aware of before either. My brief understanding of his life – with a hat-tip to Wikipedia – suggests the kind of life celebrated and enjoyed by Britons before and since. The specifics may be unique to him, but for a symbol of struggle, hard work, and achievement, he is just as proud and fine a figure than most. As the “African Man of Letters”, his representation as the first Black Briton on a Bank of England banknote would be a superb moment in history.

Let the BoE allow banknotes to be a tool for education in addition to spending; let Ignatius Sancho feature on a redesigned five pound bank-note.

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