Taking a closer look at the design of the new £50 note

The new polymer £50 note launched on 23 June 2021 featuring the scientist Alan Turing and is now being celebrated in a new Bank of England Museum exhibition.

The free online exhibition takes the form of a multimedia tour and can be found online through the digital arts and culture platform Smartify. The show traces the creation of the note, from the first concept image to sophisticated artwork to the final polymer banknote. It also examines the life and work of Alan Turing.

The exhibition includes an audio commentary by the Bank of England's banknote designer Debbie Marriott, revealing the intricate designs and nods to the Bletchley Park hero's life and achievements that have been incorporated into the note, some of which double up as security features.

"Banknote design is a unique art form, and there is plenty packed into this valuable piece of polymer," says Debbie Marriott, banknote designer at the Bank of England. "The banknote is a kind of 'business card' of the nation, which must be easily recognisable, easy to manufacture in millions but extremely hard for counterfeiters to reproduce."

All Bank of England banknotes celebrate significant aspects of the life and achievements of the character within the design. The new £50 note includes a prominent photographic portrait of Turing, taken in 1951, alongside significant numbers, letters, dots, ultraviolet figures, symbols, foil patches and windows.

Among the design elements are Turing's mathematical formulae that are recognised as the foundation of computer science. The notes also feature an image of the ACE Pilot Machine (the first electronic stored-program computer), the Bombe machine (one of the tools used to break Enigma-coded messages during World War Two) and a wavy line of ticker tape with Binary Code forming Turing's birthdate.


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