If there’s one thing Yorkshire people have become famous for over the centuries, it’s knowing how to take care of their money.
And crafty 19and Bankers of the century were quick to cash in on this tried and true Leeds name by printing and circulating their own local pound notes.
The beautifully ornate coinage proved an ingenious marketing ploy, and several surviving examples will form part of a huge collection of items on display in Money Talks, a new exhibition opening in February at Leeds City Museum and examining the evolution exciting money over the centuries.
Dating back to the early 1800s, the historic banknotes bear both the brand image of the city itself and that of now defunct local banking institutions such as Leeds Bank, Leeds Union Bank and Leeds Commercial Bank .
Manufactured at a time when the first banks of Leeds were being established and before the production and control of currency was centralized in England, banknotes bearing the Leeds name would have been considered a trusted and dependable form of currency at one time. where the widespread use of paper money was still in its infancy.
Kat Baxter, curator of archeology and numismatics at Leeds Museums and Galleries, said: “In the early days of what became commercial banking, access to banks was mainly restricted to those of good reputation or a good reputation and that was extremely important for financial institutions to build trust with customers and reassure them that the note they were holding was worth more than the paper it was printed on.
“Printing money with a recognizable local brand was a savvy way to both establish a reputation and negotiate the reliability of Leeds’ recognizable name.
“It is an early and fascinating example of our relationship with money that illustrates how dependent the financial system was on trust and confidence then and remains so today, with many of our transactions being now done without any physical money.”
Local banknote printing began to be restricted in England in 1844 with the passing of the Bank Charter Act, which granted exclusive note-issuing powers to the Central Bank of England.
Local banknotes aren’t the only unusual examples of currency from around the world that will feature in the exhibit.
Also on display will be an example of impressive but cumbersome Swedish coinage, used in the 17and Century. It took the form of printed copper plates equal to the value of the currency they represented, the excessive weight inspiring the adoption of a more manageable paper substitute.
A hundred trillion dollar note issued by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in 2008 during a period of hyperinflation, and Austrian post-war emergency money from the 1920s printed on a piece of colored wood will also part of the exhibits.
Other topics the exhibition will explore include how money has been used in gambling, with a series of money-themed board games, as well as telling stories of remarkable discoveries of money and of historic coins that were made in the Yorkshire region.
Kat added: “For thousands of years, silver has played a vital role in the development of our communities and civilizations. Money, and our many relationships with it, influences our daily lives, whether we play board games with money or go shopping.
“We are thrilled to explore so many different facets of this fascinating subject in our exhibition and to encourage visitors to reflect on the past, present and future of money.”
This exhibition is sponsored by the Leeds Building Society which was founded in 1875 by people working together to save and bring home ownership within reach for generation after generation.
Councilor Jonathan Pryor, Executive Member of Leeds City Council for Economy, Culture and Educationsaid: “Leeds has a centuries-old tradition as a financial center and a city where many esteemed and respected financial institutions have established themselves.
“It’s only fitting that our city hosts an exhibition exploring the evolution of our relationship with money and that some of the incredible objects in the collection of Leeds Museums and Galleries tell this exciting story.”
Money Talks opens at Leeds City Museum on February 11 and will be free to enter. For more details, please visit: https://museumsandgalleries.leeds.gov.uk/events/leeds-city-museum/money-talks