Royal Bank of Scotland £5 note, 1966
By the mid-1960s, the Royal Bank of Scotland's notes had been largely unchanged for more than a century. In 1966, however, a dramatic transformation began, with the introduction of this new design of £5 note. This was the Royal Bank of Scotland's first truly modern banknote.
For the first time, a Royal Bank note was printed in five colours. It featured the bank's coat of arms - introduced in 1960 - in full colour, along with colourful swirling machinework patterns. A steel strip was incorporated into the paper as an added security measure. The matching £1 note design, introduced soon after the £5, also included magnetic marks to enable the notes to be counted and sorted by machine.
Up to this date the Royal Bank's notes had always featured a royal portrait; at first of the reigning king, and later of George I and George II, in recognition of their roles in the foundation of the Royal Bank of Scotland.
This design departed from that tradition with its portrait of David Dale, who had been the joint cashier of the bank's first Glasgow office from its establishment in 1783 until 1806. He was one of the leading businessmen of the Industrial Revolution, the business partner of Richard Arkwright, and the father-in-law of the entrepreneur and philanthropist Robert Owen.
The Royal Bank was proud of its connection to Dale; as well as banknotes, his portrait appeared on the bank's savings stamps, also introduced at around this time.