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The British Isles

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The British Isles

Having recently visited Scotland I had reason to wonder about the British. While most of Europe has agreed on a common currency with an (almost) common, uniform design, the British Isles sports a large number of banknote issuers with a wide variety of designs. The Euro is a common currency of 12 major member states and 4 minor states (Monaco, Andorra, San Marino and the Vatican State).

The British pound is the currency of a number of parts of the British Commonwealth in Europe, but is issued by many issuers.

The Republic of Ireland, which until the 1920's was a part of the United Kingdom, had their own pound that started out as a twin of the British pound. The Irish opted for the Euro when it was introduced, but earlier the Central Bank of Ireland issued banknotes for the republic. In the republic's early days a number of private banks also issued banknotes.

The United Kingdom is the union of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Bank of England issues banknotes for England and Wales, these notes also circulate in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Bank of England was the second bank in Europe to issue banknotes (only beaten by the Swedes).

The Scots have three private banks that issue their own colourful notes, these are The Bank of Scotland, The Royal Bank of Scotland and The Clydesdale Bank.

Northern Ireland has some (4) private banks issuing banknotes: The Allied Irish Banks, The First Trust Bank, The Bank of Ireland, The Northern Bank, The Provincial Bank of Ireland, The Ulster Bank.

The Isle of Man is a semi-independent part of Britain, it is under the British Crown but has its own government and is e.g. not a member of the European Union. Banknotes are issued by the Isle of Man Government.

The Channel Islands are a number of semi-independent parts of Britain like Isle of Man. Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark are the names of the different parts, there are more islands but they form part of one of the four island states. Guernsey administers Alderney and Sark. The States of Jersey and the States of Guernsey issue notes.

The British Crown colony of Gibraltar also issues its own coins and banknotes, these are not recognized by the British Government but still circulate there on par with the British pound.

All in all, in British Europe there are 12 banknote issuers - as compared to 12 European nations making it with only 1!

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