Width: 77.000 mm
Height: 138.000 mm
CM PM 421
Coins and Medals
£1 Treasury note
Great Britain, AD 1914
A subsititute for scarce gold coins
The First World War (1914-18) placed great demands on Britain's gold supply: the Government needed gold to meet the costs of the war, and the public tended to hoard gold as private security in this time of uncertainty. This depleted the circulation of gold sovereigns and half sovereigns (coins worth one pound and ten shillings, respectively). To supplement the scarce coinage, the British Treasury began to issue paper notes for these amounts.
The first pound notes were issued on 7 August 1914, only three days after war was declared. Because they were produced in a such a hurry, the printing and design were very simple, and a more elegant note was issued in October 1914. The note shown here is from this second series, decorated with a bust of King George V, with St George and the Dragon shown on the right. Like the first series, the notes were signed by Sir John Bradbury, Permanent Secretary to the Treasury, and they were soon nicknamed 'Bradburys'. Later issues carried more elaborate designs, printed in colour with larger, patriotic images of St George and the Dragon and Britannia.
Treasury notes continued to be produced until 1928, when the Bank of England took over responsibility for issuing the one pound and ten shilling notes.
V. Duggleby, English paper money: 300 years, 5th ed. (London, Spink, 1994)
V.H. Hewitt and J.M. Keyworth, As good as gold: 300 years of (London, The British Museum Press, 1987)