RBS issues first polymer note

Royal Bank of Scotland has issued its first polymer note — a £5 note which features illustrations of Scottish poet Nan Shepherd.

The £5 is part of a new series of “Fabric of Nature” themed notes coming into circulation this year and next year is made from a De La Rue’s Safeguard polymer material.

It also contains new security features that make it difficult to counterfeit but easy to authenticate.

The creation of the new notes involved a number of Scottish arts organisations and designers including Graven Images, Nile, Stucco, Timrous Beasties, O’Street and the Glasgow School of Art.

Behind Shepherd’s portrait on the note is a picture of the Cairngorms, celebrated by Shepherd in her writing, as well as a quote from her book “The Living Mountain.”

The reverse of the £5 note features two mackerel, the most valuable stock for the Scottish fishing industry, and an excerpt from the poem “The Choice” by Sorley MacLean.

The new note is already available at nine branches in Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Haddington, Paisley and Dundee.

The notes will be rolled out across the rest of Scotland in the coming weeks and by May 2017, about 90% of RBS £5 notes in circulation will be polymer.

The new notes are 15% smaller and the new material is cleaner, more secure and more durable than traditional cotton notes, lasting 2.5 times longer.

Erlend Clouston, Nan Shepherd’s Literary Executioner, said: “Nan would have been delighted and honoured to see her image and her work celebrated on the new note.

“Her work has become an important part of the Scottish literary canon and now people everywhere will carry her portrait and her words with them.”

RBS has been issuing banknotes since 1727 and has an average of £1.5 billion worth of notes in circulation every day.