Carlisle City and District Banking Company, proof of £5 note

Carlisle, England, about AD 1837-59

A note with a view

Early banknotes were printed from copper plates and usually had quite simple designs. However, by the middle of the nineteenth century, notes were often printed from steel plates. Because steel is much harder than copper, these could be engraved with much more detailed images.

In Britain, private banks decorated their notes with vignettes of local views, sometimes filled with astonishing detail. In this panoramic view of Carlisle, the city stretches into the distance, with factory chimneys smoking above the cathedral, the castle and rows of housing. In the foreground, country people and an elegant couple walk by the banks of the River Eden; on the far shore cattle are wading, and even a line of washing is hung out to dry.

This design was engraved by the Edinburgh firm of W.H. Lizars, who also produced many book illustrations. These ranged from topographical views of this sort to natural history engravings, including some plates for Audubon's Birds of America.

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More information


V.H. Hewitt and J.M. Keyworth, As good as gold: 300 years of (London, The British Museum Press, 1987)


Width: 219.000 mm
Height: 131.000 mm

Museum number

CM 1981-11-22-91


Garratt Collection


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