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50 Pounds Sterling 1981, Kingdom of Great Britain

in Banknotes Book Number: BE253B
Years of issue: 20.03.1981
Signatures: Chief Cashier: Mr. David Henry FitzRoy Somerset (1980 - 1988)
Serie: England
Specimen of: 20.03.1981
Material: Cotton fiber
Size (mm): 169 х 95
Printer: Bank of England print works, Loughton (Debden), Essex, UK

* All pictures marked magnify are increased partially by magnifying glass, the remaining open in full size by clicking on the image.

** The word "Specimen" is present only on some of electronic pictures, in accordance with banknote images publication rules of appropriate banks.

50 Pounds Sterling 1981




HM The Queen Elizabeth II in young age.

For the watermark was used a portrait of Her Majesty, dated 1954. This portrait can be seen on banknotes of Bahamas, Jamaica and East Africa.


50 Pounds Sterling 1981

HM The Queen Elizabeth II.

Like the previous portraits of The Queen, which had been drawn for the banknotes issued by the Bank of England, this likeness of Her Majesty is not based on an existing portrait. The master drawing of The Queen was executed by Harry Eccleston in 1956, the designer of the Bank's 'D' series. Three versions of the portrait were created. As well as the two version of the portrait described below, an earlier portrait of Her Majesty was prepared by Eccleston for use on the 50-pence and 10-shilling notes, which were never issued. The unused portrait was similar to Portrait 14b, except that in the unused portrait The Queen wore a cap, which is part of the full regalia of the Order of the Garter, rather than the Diadem.

This version of the portrait was used on the 10-, 20- and 50-pound notes of the ‘D’ series. The Queen is depicted in state robes, wearing the George IV State Diadem, Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee necklace and Queen Alexandra’s Cluster Earrings.


The Queen is wearing the George IV State Diadem. Made by Rundell, Bridge & Rundell (and likely designed by their designer, Philip Liebart) in 1820, the diadem features a set of 4 crosses pattée alternating with 4 bouquets of roses, thistles, and shamrocks. The motifs are set on a band of diamond scrollwork between two bands of pearls. Queen Alexandra had the diadem made smaller in 1902, reducing the top band of pearls from 86 to 81, and the bottom band from 94 to 88. The front cross is set with a 4 carat yellow diamond, and the piece features 1,333 diamonds in all. (Sartorial Splendor)

Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee necklace

To mark Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887, a committee of ladies was formed to raise money for a commemorative statue of Victoria’s late husband Prince Albert. The committee’s fundraising was quite successful, and they ended up raising far more than was required for the statue. An agreement was formed with the Queen that the excess should go to the St. Katherine’s Fund for Nurses. At the same time, some members of the committee decided that a portion of the funds should be used to purchase a necklace for the Queen - and this was also approved by Her Majesty.

The trouble was, the committee did not agree on the necklace. Some felt it would be wrong to spend the funds which had been previously devoted to charity on something else. Much discussion and debate ensued, as is described in depth in Hugh Roberts’ book The Queen’s Diamonds. (My favorite tidbit: Queen Victoria, angry that she wouldn’t get her promised necklace, shot down the prospect of a diamond badge commemorating the nursing fund by declaring she would “at once exchange it for another jewel”.

In the end, a compromise was reached and this necklace, made for £5000 (far less than the necklace originally proposed) from gold, diamonds, and pearls by Carrington & Co. was presented to Queen Victoria in 1888. It features a central quatrefoil diamond motif with a large pearl in the middle, topped by a crown and underlined with a drop pearl. The next four links in either direction are graduated trefoil motifs; the central piece and the six largest trefoils can also be worn as brooches.

Queen Alexandra’s Cluster Earrings

She is also wearing Queen Alexandra’s Cluster Earrings. The wedding gift from the future King Edward VII to his bride, Alexandra of Denmark. Also known as Queen Alexandra's Cluster Earrings, these two button earrings have large pearls surrounded by diamonds - 10 larger stones each plus smaller filler stones to create a full diamond ring. Like the brooch, these passed to the Queen via Queen Mary. They're now worn primarily at evening functions.

In the center is the Phoenix bird rising from the ashes.

The Phoenix is a mythological bird capable of foreseeing death, burn itself and then be reborn from the ashes. In China, it is considered a solar symbol.

Phoenix embodies both yin and yang; consists of different elements representing the entire cosmos; symbolizes peace, prosperity and prosperity.

Royal monogram lower right. Logo of the Bank of England is in lower left corner.

The Inscriptions: Bank of England. I Promise to Pay the Bearer on Demand the Sum of Fifty Pounds. London, for the Governor and Company of the Bank of England.

Denominations in numerals are in top corners. In words centered.


50 Pounds Sterling 1981


Pencil drawing of London and St Paul's Cathedral, XVIII century, used by banknote designer Roger Withington as the main type of reverse.

St Paul's Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral in London. As the seat of the Bishop of London, the cathedral serves as the mother church of the Diocese of London. It is on Ludgate Hill at the highest point of the City of London and is a Grade I listed building. Its dedication to Paul the Apostle dates back to the original church on this site, founded in AD 604. The present structure, dating from the late XVII century, was designed in the English Baroque style by Sir Christopher Wren. Its construction, completed in Wren's lifetime, was part of a major rebuilding programme in the city after the Great Fire of London. The earlier Gothic cathedral (Old St Paul's Cathedral), largely destroyed in the Great Fire, was a central focus for medieval and early modern London, including Paul's walk and St Paul's Churchyard, being the site of St Paul's Cross.

The cathedral is one of the most famous and most recognisable sights of London. Its dome, framed by the spires of Wren's City churches, has dominated the skyline for over 300 years. At 365 feet (111 m.) high, it was the tallest building in London from 1710 to 1963. The dome remains among the highest in the world. St Paul's is the second-largest church building in area in the United Kingdom after Liverpool Cathedral.

Services held at St Paul's have included the funerals of Admiral Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington, Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher; jubilee celebrations for Queen Victoria; an inauguration service for the Metropolitan Hospital Sunday Fund; peace services marking the end of the First and Second World Wars; the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer; the launch of the Festival of Britain; and the thanksgiving services for the Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilees and the 80th and 90th birthdays of Queen Elizabeth II. St Paul's Cathedral is the central subject of much promotional material, as well as of images of the dome surrounded by the smoke and fire of the Blitz. The cathedral is a working church with hourly prayer and daily services. The tourist entry fee at the door is £20 for adults (August 2020, cheaper if booked online), but no charge is made to worshippers attending advertised services.

The nearest underground station is St Paul's, which is 130 yards (120 m.) away from St Paul's Cathedral.


Details - On the quayside barrels are being unloaded, wood is being stacked in the wood yard and in the foreground two ladies are being rowed to their destination. The lady in the boat on the left is wearing a pretty bonnet and the one in the boat on the right is holding an open parasol …(

Plan of St Paul's Cathedral, London, 1675–1710

Below - Plan of St. Paul's Cathedral, London, 1675-1710.

This is a plan of the St Paul’s Cathedral in London, England. It is an example of English Renaissance architecture. The construction lasted from 1675 to 1710. Sir Christopher Wren designed the cathedral. “In plan, Wren’s design was in accordance with the traditional arrangement of an English cathedral, with nave, north and south transepts and choir, in all the cases with side aisles together...

Wren introduced a series of cupolas over the main arms of the cathedral, which enabled him to light with clerestory windows; these are not visible on the exterior, as they are masked by the upper storey which Wren carried round the whole structure, in order, probably, to give it greater height and importance.” The scale is given in feet. (

Christopher Wren

The engraving on the banknote is based on a 1711 portrait by the German artist Sir Gottfried Kneller. Portrait - oil - canvas, size: 1245 mm. x 1003 m. The portrait was purchased in 1860 for the National Portrait Gallery in London, where it is located to this day.

Sir Christopher Wren PRS FRS (30 October 1632 [O.S. 20 October] – 8 March 1723 [O.S. 25 February]) was one of the most highly acclaimed English architects in history, as well as an anatomist, astronomer, geometer, and mathematician-physicist. He was accorded responsibility for rebuilding 52 churches in the City of London after the Great Fire in 1666, including what is regarded as his masterpiece, St Paul's Cathedral, on Ludgate Hill, completed in 1710.

The principal creative responsibility for a number of the churches is now more commonly attributed to others in his office, especially Nicholas Hawksmoor. Other notable buildings by Wren include the Royal Hospital Chelsea, the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, and the south front of Hampton Court Palace.

Educated in Latin and Aristotelian physics at the University of Oxford, Wren was a founder of the Royal Society and served as its president from 1680 to 1682.[6] His scientific work was highly regarded by Isaac Newton and Blaise Pascal.


Designer: Roger Withington.

The banknote withdrawn from circulation on September 2, 1996.

For the materials provided, many thanks to Malcolm Shemmonds from the Bank of England Public Relations Department.

On banknote have signed Mister David Henry FitzRoy Somerset.

David Henry FitzRoy Somerset (19 June 1930 – 25 October 2014) was Chief Cashier of the Bank of England for 1980 to 1988. The signature of the Chief Cashier appears on British banknotes. Somerset was replaced as Chief Cashier by Malcolm Gill.

Somerset was educated at Mount House School (now known as Mount Kelly) in Tavistock, Devon.

He was an emeritus fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge from 1997 to 2014, and fellow 1988-1997.