Earliest surviving Scottish banknote

Contributed by Museum on the Mound

Bank of Scotland banknote for 12 pounds Scots (£1), 1716. Photograph by Antonia Reeve. © Museum on the Mound, Edinburgh.

12 pounds Scots (£1 sterling) was a fairly substantial sum of money in 1716 - equivalent to about £85 today.This banknote was issued by the Bank of Scotland in 1716.
Founded in 1695, Bank of Scotland produced its first banknotes the following year. It was the first successful paper currency to be launched by a commercial bank in Europe.

The new notes were popular with the Bank's customers (mainly merchants and landowners), largely because people trusted them more than the coinage of the period, which was scarce and of poor quality.

Though none of the Bank's notes from 1696 survive, this one from 1716 gives a good idea of what early banknotes were like. Their simple design meant they were relatively easy to copy, and forgery was a persistent problem.

The banknote is expressed in 'pounds Scots' rather than sterling. Although Scotland's separate currency was abolished by the Act of Union in 1707, it was still used as an expression of money for many years afterwards (£12 Scots = £1 sterling). Bank of Scotland still issues banknotes today, making it the longest continuous banknote issue in the world.

Comments are closed for this object


  • 1 comment
  • 1. At 18:05 on 24 March 2010, batty wrote:

    Bet it's worth more than £85 today and certainly more than the pound which used to be in your pocket before the budget

    Complain about this comment

Most of the content on A History of the World is created by the contributors, who are the museums and members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC or the British Museum. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site’s House Rules please Flag This Object.

About this object

Click a button to explore other objects in the timeline




View more objects from people in Edinburgh and East of Scotland.

Find out more

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.