You can get a preview of the new King Charles III banknotes before they go into general distribution, as a set has gone on display at the Bank of England’s museum.

The banknotes are just one small part of a larger exhibition looking at the future of money in general and whether the move to non-cash payments will ever see the demise of cash altogether.

Although much of the exhibition is more display boards asking questions than showing objects, it does show off some interesting nuggets about the past transition from cash to cashless. London’s Oyster card, which was created to discourage people from using cash, is next to a Monopoly bankcard, an update on the famous Monopoly banknotes.

A curiosity about Monopoly banknotes is that the different denominations are all the same size, a legacy of the game’s American origins, where actual banknotes are (annoyingly) the same size regardless of whether it’s $1 or $100. The UK, far more sensibly, has different sizes to make it easier to tell them apart.

The rest of the exhibition briefly examines issues such as crypocurrency, money as gifts and data privacy in shop loyalty cards. It’s a modest exhibition that left a sense that when museums try to look forward, the lack of artefacts leaves them struggling a bit to display anything.

However, the rest of the museum is always worth visiting, and of course, you get to see the new banknotes before they appear in shops and cash machines.

The one thing you shouldn’t do is take any close-up photos of the banknotes if you plan to edit the photo later.

Not because security in the bank will stop you, but because there’s a special code embedded into the design of the banknotes, which tells computer software to block attempts to edit or print the banknote at home, and triggered a warning on my computer.

What you can do though is try to lift a real gold bar — and you’ll never watch James Bond throwing a gold bar at Oddjob and it bouncing off home without yelling “that’s not possible” again.

The Bank of England museum is free to visit and open Monday to Friday from 10am to 5pm (excluding Bank Holidays). The museum is also open late until 8pm (last entry 7.30pm) every third Thursday of the month.

You will also be able to swap your old banknotes for new ones at the Bank of England itself on the 5th June 2024 issuance date, and details will be confirmed closer to the date.


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  1. Leon Solent says:

    Tried the gold bar lifting a while back, and now annoy people by tutting loudly while watching actors lifting crates of gold single handed, in Kelly’s Heroes or The Italian Job.

  2. Basil Jet says:

    I can’t wait to fold one through the eyes to make him smile!

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