UK banknotes among world’s most beautiful - list of winners including Northern Ireland £50 & Scottish £100

Two UK banknotes have been named among the world’s most beautiful by the International Bank Note Society.

Two UK bank notes have been named among the top three most beautiful banknotes in the world. Coming in second place is the £50 Ulster Bank note followed closely behind by Scotland’s £100 note in third.

The £50 polymer note from the Ulster Bank, which entered circulation in June 2022, features people and places in Northern Ireland. It was inspired by women who work in the field of life science and features Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell of Co Armagh’s discovery of pulsars.

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Pulsars are spherical, compact objects with more mass than the sun and are about the size of a large city. A variety of northern plants and animals, including a pine martin, a cryptic wood butterfly, and gorse, are depicted on the reverse of the note.

Meanwhile, the Scottish banknote honours Dr Flora Murray who founded the Women’s Hospital for Children and the Women’s Hospital Corp. in London. The medical pioneer, who was born in Dumfries in 1869, was awarded a CBE for her service during World War One.

Dr Murray founded the Women’s Hospital for Children in London in 1912 with her partner, Louisa Garrett-Anderson. When war broke out in 1914, they founded the Women’s Hospital Corps, a feminist organisation, and opened two successful military hospitals in France, staffed entirely by female suffragettes.

In 1915, the British War Office provided them with a premises in London where they set up Endell Street Military Hospital, the first hospital in the UK established for men by female medical professionals.

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The International Bank Note Society said: “Winners of recent IBNS Banknote of the Year competitions are all miniature works of art that represent their nation’s popular themes. These winners should help provide a superb template as other countries consider how they eventually design and promote their own new banknotes.”

Scotland has previously won the title. The winning note in 2007 featured Sir Walter Scott and the Falkirk Wheel, also issued by the Bank of Scotland.

The £50 polymer note from the Ulster Bank, which entered circulation in June 2022, features people and places in Northern Ireland.The £50 polymer note from the Ulster Bank, which entered circulation in June 2022, features people and places in Northern Ireland.
The £50 polymer note from the Ulster Bank, which entered circulation in June 2022, features people and places in Northern Ireland. | International Bank Note Society

The two UK notes were recognised in a competition by International Bank Note Society, to determine the world’s most beautiful banknotes.

Top six winners

The International Bank Note Society asks members from 60 nations to nominate newly-designed notes issued in the preceding calendar year each year. This year’s winner was a 1,000 Peso note issued by the Philippines Central Bank. All six use the popular polymer trends in banknote printing.

Below are the full list of winners:

  1. 1,000 Peso - Philippines Central Bank
  2. £50 - Northern Ireland’s Ulster Bank
  3. £100 - Bank of Scotland
  4. 2000 Dinar - Algeria
  5. 50 Dollar - Barbados
  6. 10 Pound - Egypt

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