One Pound Note with Isaac Newton | Bank of England

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British One Pound Note Isaac Newton, Bank of England Banknotes
Great Britain Currency GBP - One Pound Note with Isaac Newton
One Pound Note with Isaac Newton | Bank of England

Obverse: Queen Elizabeth II. Bank of England logo. Caduceus and cornucopia.
Reverse: Sir Isaac Newton with his telescope. Heliocentric solar system.
The prism on the table beside Newton refers to his work, "The New Theory of Lights and Colours" (1672) and "Optics" (1704).
Watermark: Isaac Newton.
Predominant colour: Deep green.
Date first issued: 9 February 1978 (20 March 1981). Date last issued: 31 december 1984. Date withdrawn:
11 March 1988.
Design: Harry Eccleston.

Texts: Bank of England. I Promise to Pay the Bearer on Demand the Sum of One Pound.
London, for the Governor and Company of the Bank of England.

Signature: D.H.F. Somerset (1980-1984) - David Henry Fitzroy Somerset - The 26th Chief Cashier, David Somerset was born in 1930. He joined the Bank in 1952 and spent 3 years seconded to the Managing Director of the IMF. He became Deputy Chief Cashier in 1973 and was promoted to Chief Cashier on 1 March 1980. He remained in office until his retirement on 28 February 1988.
When Henry Fitzroy Somerset took over as Chief Cashier, the colours on the £1 note were enhanced. This coincided with a switch to printing on a new web press. On the notes, this was indicated with the addition of a small "W" on the reverse.
The last £1 was issued in 1985, giving way (as the 10/- note had previously) to a coin with a much longer life expectancy.


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The Pictorial, Series D, notes were all designed by Harry Eccleston, assisted by Roger Withington and David Wicks. They are called pictorial because they feature pictorial representations of famous British figures. The first one issued was the £20 which was first issued on 9th July 1970. The Pictorial £5 note appeared on 11th November 1971 followed by the £10 note on 20th February 1975 and the £1 note on 9th February 1978. The £50 note was introduced in 1981.

Sir Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1726 / 27) was an English physicist and mathematician (described in his own day as a "natural philosopher") who is widely recognised as one of the most influential scientists of all time and a key figure in the scientific revolution. His book PhilosophiƦ Naturalis Principia Mathematica ("Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy"), first published in 1687, laid the foundations for classical mechanics. Newton made seminal contributions to optics, and he shares credit with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz for the development of calculus.
  Newton's Principia formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation, which dominated scientists' view of the physical universe for the next three centuries. By deriving Kepler's laws of planetary motion from his mathematical description of gravity, and then using the same principles to account for the trajectories of comets, the tides, the precession of the equinoxes, and other phenomena, Newton removed the last doubts about the validity of the heliocentric model of the Solar System. This work also demonstrated that the motion of objects on Earth and of celestial bodies could be described by the same principles. His prediction that Earth should be shaped as an oblate spheroid was later vindicated by the measurements of Maupertuis, La Condamine, and others, which helped convince most Continental European scientists of the superiority of Newtonian mechanics over the earlier system of Descartes.
  Newton built the first practical reflecting telescope and developed a theory of colour based on the observation that a prism decomposes white light into the many colours of the visible spectrum. He formulated an empirical law of cooling, studied the speed of sound, and introduced the notion of a Newtonian fluid. In addition to his work on calculus, as a mathematician Newton contributed to the study of power series, generalised the binomial theorem to non-integer exponents, developed a method for approximating the roots of a function, and classified most of the cubic plane curves.
  Newton was a fellow of Trinity College and the second Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. He was a devout but unorthodox Christian, and, unusually for a member of the Cambridge faculty of the day, he refused to take holy orders in the Church of England, perhaps because he privately rejected the doctrine of the Trinity. Beyond his work on the mathematical sciences, Newton dedicated much of his time to the study of biblical chronology and alchemy, but most of his work in those areas remained unpublished until long after his death. In his later life, Newton became president of the Royal Society. Newton served the British government as Warden and Master of the Royal Mint.

Sir Isaac Newton, the Economist at the Royal Mint
Sir Isaac Newton is best known for his laws of motion and gravity, but he was also an economist of sorts serving as Britain’s Warden/Master of the Mint (from 1696 until his death in 1727).
  Although Newton didn’t contribute much to economic theory directly (and was instead involved in the practical end of economics rather than social science and theory), Newton did put his mathematical and chemical knowledge to use at the Royal Mint saving England money they were losing on counterfeit coins.
  In his years at the Mint, Newton (by then in his 50’s) left behind physics and the other sciences (and his less talked about interest in theology and alchemy) and embraced his new role as English Aristocracy while focusing on economics, personal investments, and social relationships.
Newton was involved in economics, but in a very practical and statesmen-like way, his major direct contributions are in mathematics and the natural sciences before his work at the Mint. See the works of Newton, including Opticks (read online) which he began work on in 1675, and published while working at the mint in 1704.
Newton Inspired Economists and Other Thinkers Outside of the Natural Sciences
Newton may not have contributed much to economics directly, but he did inspire important economists including both the father of modern economics Adam Smith and the Father of social-liberal macroeconomics John Maynard Keynes (see Isaac Newton’s Influence on Adam Smith’s Natural Laws in Economics). He also made friends with the father of liberalism and a co-founder of classical liberal economics John Locke. Locke’s theories use the state of nature argument to show the origin of the natural rights regarding life, liberty, and property, and he was instrumental in The Glorious Revolution of 1688 (a political revolution that gave more power to parliament; see the 1689 English Bill of Rights and Locke’s 1689 work Two Treatise of Government) and became the model for liberal revolutions. The Revolution greatly impacted economics in Europe and America, and could have easily affected Newton being awarded his position at the mint.
Newtown wasn’t the only famous philsopher to dabble in economics. As noted above, Locke helped develop the concepts of supply and demand and the Price Labor Theory, Copernicus was the first to present the Quantity of Money Theory, and Adam Smith wrote a book on moral philosphy which he considered his greatest work (his invisible hand concept oriniates in his Theory of Moral Sentiments, not his Wealth of Nations).
Newton and the South Sea Bubble
  Newton was also an investor; he famously lost a great deal of money in The South Sea Bubble (1716-1720) along with Thomas Swift (who wrote Gulliver’s Travels).
  In short this bubble was caused when Britain issued shares in their South Sea company, a state-backed company that was granted a monopoly in trade with Spain in South America, to pay off their war debt. The problem came when shares raised in value through speculation and then lost value when the voyages turned up with little to nothing and relations with Spain soured.
  When the South Sea Bubble popped, it caused a very severe economic crisis. Proud citizens like Newton had been happy to hold large shares of Britain’s trademark company, but when the bubble popped Newton personally lost a fortune in the crash (£20,000, equivalent to about £268 million in present day value), he famously remarked, “I can calculate the movement of the stars, but not the madness of men.”
The Takeaway on Newton and the South Sea Bubble
  Indeed, Newton’s time as an economist should remind us all that the universal laws that govern the natural sciences and mathematics are much more ordered than the rather chaotic laws that govern the social sciences (like economics, political science, and psychology).
  In other words, discovering calculus and the laws of motion can seem easy compared to predicting the South Sea Bubble for those who are looking at the world mathematically instead of through the lens of the social sciences.
Newton the Alchemist and John Maynard Keynes
  Speaking of riches gained and lost, aside from being an economist, Newton was also one of the last alchemists.
  Newton spent a large portion of the first half of his life (before working at the Mint) searching for “the philosophers stone” (a fabled chemical substance that can be used to create gold, not an actual stone) and trying to find deeper meaning in ancient esoteric and theological texts.
  After studying his manuscripts (some of which economist John Maynard Keynes, who bought the manuscripts, was one of the first to see), Keynes wrote a famous line about Newton, “he was the last of the magicians.”
Newton isn’t exactly an economist in terms of theory, but he was very influential in economics and worked at the royal mint for 30 years, that technically makes Sir Isaac an economist, a title he holds alongside titles like physicist, mathematician, astronomer, alchemist, and likely other various titles.

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