Share certificates don’t quite show their worth

A couple of weeks ago I received a 500 note in the post. This came courtesy of the newly merged Abbey National Bank in recognition of my long-standing mortgage with the National Provincial Building Society.

What was remarkable about this piece of money was its complete absence of any sense of value. Indeed, its designers had gone to such extremes of minimalism to ignore this fact that after positioning a bar code, the mark of the throwaway object, at the head of the sheet followed by the words “share certificate”, they felt obliged to qualify this with the words: “This is a valuable document. Please keep it safe.”

There was a time in the not too distant past when a share certificate was a glorious tribute to the security engraver’s art and was manifestly of extreme value. It used a graphic language which had slowly evolved during the history of print to convey this fact with a richness and portence which was understood by everyone from count to charlady. There was never a chance that its worth would be misconstrued as even one corner peeking from a pile of papers would signal its true value.

It would appear that in today’s world of thrusting modern banking there is no place for the subtleties of traditional forms of communication. In fact, the Abbey National had previously sent me a mailing to inform me of the imminent arrival of my share certificate which they felt compelled to accompany with a glossy colour mag adorned with an inane picture of that icon of new banking and ladism, Martin Clunes.

I asked myself whether this left them short of the necessary readies to employ a competent graphic designer to effectively convey the actual and implied worth of their certificates. Or had they been hijacked by a glib purveyor of that bogus design adage “less is more” (less problem if you only use what’s in the computer, more money left for the designer if you do)?

Whichever, it would appear that the first manifestation of value from this enlarged caring and committed bank is a document which has all the visual and implied worth of a reminder from the gas board!

Roger Rolfe

Brighton BN2 1RD

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