- Museum number
- Object: Bank restriction note
Imitation bank-note printed on 'Bank-post' paper. Below the title, which is engraved along the left margin: 'Specimen of a Bank Note—not to be imitated. / Submitted to the consideration of the Bank Directors and the inspection of the Public'. Below this a border of shackles at right angles to the heading of the note, 'Bank Restriction' in Gothic characters. Below is a long beam from which eleven bodies dangle, three being women; the two uprights of this gibbet are inscribed 'Bank Post'. Above the heads: 'I Promise to Perform', and over-printed: 'N° AD LIB to N° AD LIB'. Below: 'During the Issue of Bank Notes / easily imitated, and until the Resump / tion of Cash Payments, or the Abolition / of the Punishment of Death, / For the Govr and Compa of the / Bank of England. / [signed] J. Ketch'. On the left of the text, within an irregular oval, a woman seated like Britannia with spear and shield is devouring children. Outside the oval border are the figures of despairing women and agonized men, two with their heads in a noose. This is surmounted by a skull. As a background to this device wavy lines represent the sea; at each of the four corners is a ship with a pennant inscribed 'Transport'. Below this in place of the sum of money on the real note, is a large L made of rope, enclosing on a black ground twelve tiny heads, intended to represent heads between prison bars. Below: 'Entd at Stationers Hall'.
- Production date
Height: 124 millimetres (printed image)
Width: 195 millimetres (printed image)
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', IX, 1949)
Cruikshank states that he engraved this after seeing the gibbet at the Old Bailey when women had been hanged for passing forged £1 notes, that its publication stopped the issue of £1 notes by the Bank of England, that hanging for forgery ceased, and the resumption of cash payments followed. Actually, Romilly raised the matter on 25 Feb. 1818, alluding to the execution of two women (18 Feb.); it was taken up by Macintosh who associated the forgeries with Bank Restriction, see No. 13197. A Royal Commission was agreed to on 13 May 1818, to examine methods of preventing forgery by the better printing of notes. Many notes were (optimistically) submitted to them as forgery-proof, and a preliminary report was made on 22 Jan. 1819. 'Parl. Deb.' xxxvii. 612 f.; xxxviii. 272 ff., 432-5, 555 f., 671 ff.; xxxix. 73-8. 'Examiner', 1818, pp. 92, 190, 267, 621, 802, &c. Executions for forgery continued: the death penalty was abolished by a series of acts from 1830 to 1837. The agitation relating to forged notes continued throughout 1818 and in 1819. This plate was advertised in 'The Times' as published 26 Jan.; a description of the note in the 'Examiner' of 24 Jan. (p. 58) suggests a slightly earlier issue. The relatives of Hone claim that he designed the plate, and in 1878 a dispute arose between him and the Cruikshank family: Cruikshank considered it the 'great event of his artistic life'. A rough sketch, supposed to show Hone's pencillings, and dated 12 January 1819, is reproduced, Hackwood, 'William Hone', 1912, p. 203. See Idem, pp. 191, 198-205; Jerrold, 'George Cruikshank', 1882, i. 90-4. The note was sold with No. 13199. Owing to the great demand a second plate was engraved, impressions from both are in the Print Room. See Nos. 13198 A, 13200, 13407. For other imitation notes cf. Nos. 10123, &c., 11780.
Reid, No. 965. Reissued, Hone's 'Facetiae', 1827. Reproduced, Jerrold, op. cit., i. 92; Hackwood, op. cit., p. 200; Acres, 'The Bank of England from within', 1931, i. 342.
Dated by M. D. George, Jan. 1819.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: 1891,1116.179