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Money makes the world go bround, it is the driving force of both our economies and our lives. Every single day we go about our business of earning and spending money, and while we all handle notes and coins every day, what do we really know about the money we come into contact with?

In Great Britain, money has been in circulation for a very long time, and while a number of changes have occurred over the years, particularly in 1970 with the introduction of decimalisation, few of us are aware of some of the most basic facts about our money.

Cash is King!

The pound is the official currency of the United Kingdom and the Crown dependencies of Britain, as we all know, these pounds are now made up of 100 pence, or pennies.

Our Sterling Banknotes are made by a specialist paper manufacturer. They are manufactured from cotton fibre and linen rag, which makes them tougher and more durable than the more common wood pulp paper. Using copious amounts of water, the cotton is broken down into individual fibres and reformed into reels of paper of the quality required.

Security and the Watermark

The watermark design is engraved in wax and, like the metallic thread; the image is incorporated into the paper at the manufacturing stage.

Currently notes are available in denominations of B#5, B#10, B#20 and B#50, but higher-value notes are used within the banks b particularly the B#1 million and B#100 million notes used to maintain parity with Scottish and Northern Irish notes.

Banknotes issued by Scottish and Northern Irish banks have to be backed by Bank of England notes and special million pound notes are used for this purpose. These resemble simple IOUs and bear no aesthetic design features

The Coins in your Pocket

Coins are perhaps the money which we have most regular contact with during our day to day lives. These are currently the 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, B#1 and B#2 coins. The B#1 coin, first issued on 21 April 1983, has a composition of 70% copper, 5.5% nickel and 34.5% zinc. The reverse (or tails) design of the pound coins was chosen to represent the United Kingdom and its four parts: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The first series of these used floral emblems (such as the Thistle and Royal Diadem for Scotland or the Leek and Royal Diadem for Wales) while the second series took a heraldic approach (with a Dragon representing Wales and a Celtic Cross representing Northern Ireland etc).

So, when you hand over your hard-earned cash, spare a thought for what is really in your pocket!

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