New £20 polymer note design released

The banknote will feature artist JMW Turner and is thought to be the “most secure” ever produced.

The design for the updated £20 note has been released by the Bank of England (BoE). Launching in February 2020, the new banknote will feature the portrait of artist JMW Turner.

The project for the design was headed by De La Rue, the British manufacturing company that currently print all BoE currency. As with existing notes in the updated series, the new £20 will be made from a polymer material. De La Rue claims the material is “cleaner, securer and greener” than previous paper versions.

The polymer material also lends itself to being more inclusive, according to De La Rue creative design manager, Jan Kercher. “We had to ensure that the note’s design was functional for the modern cash cycle,” she says. “[Among other aspects,] this involved designing a special tactile feature for the visually impaired.”

It’s thought the new note – which will account for 60% of all notes in circulation when it goes into print – will be the “securest Bank of England banknote ever”. Kercher says the design team “incorporated numerous overt and covert security features” in order to prevent counterfeiting. These include the two new “window” features, two-colour foil and the elaborate replicas of JMW Turner’s artwork itself.

The decision to feature the artist was made by way of public consultation. Kercher says it then took over two years to successfully recreate his work on the new note. “Doing justice to the artistic talent of JMW Turner was a real challenge for our designers,” she says.

“They had to recreate his work through engravings based upon his self-portrait from the Tate Britain and his famous Fighting Temeraire oil painting in the National Gallery.”

Part of the reason the recreation took so long is down to the printing process of banknotes. Kercher explains any artwork on currency has to be of a particularly high quality in order to survive the secure printing process all notes have to go through.

“We wanted to create a note that the general public would have confidence using while also gaining pleasure from its detailed design work celebrating Turner’s art and life,” Kercher adds.

With his appointment to the £20 note, JMW Turner will join Winston Churchill on the £5, Jane Austen on the £10 and – when it goes into production in the coming years – Alan Turing on the £50

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