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V18 2015 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 18, Number 38, September 20, 2015, Article 23

ARTIST INCORPORATED SIGNATURE INTO SCOTTISH BANKNOTE

Here's a great publicity article for the World Paper Money Fair in London October 2-3, run by the International Bank Note Society. I wasn't aware of this story, although it may have been common knowledge among collectors. -Editor

Scotland One Pound note back

A CHEEKY Scots printer had his name signed on more than 50 million bank notes after carving it onto the master printing plate.

Apprentice WH Egan subtly forged his name on the vignette used to make £1 notes for the Royal Bank of Scotland.

He worked for Edinburgh printers W&AK Johnston, who produced paper notes for RBS.

Between 1956 and 1967, the firm issued in excess of 50 million of the notes - which had Egan’s signature hidden in cobblestones in front of an image of the Bank of Glasgow building.

He was given the job of re-drawing the worn-out metal printing plate for the £1 note that was first issued in 1927.

WH Egan mark on Scotland banknote His name is only visible by turning the note upside down, and peering closely at it using a magnifying glass.

The indiscretion only came to light in 1989 - 34 years later - when Egan walked into a branch and confessed.

The notes are described as ‘curiosity items’ but are not very valuable as so many of them were printed off between 1956 to 1967.

Two of them will be going on display to the public next month at the World Paper Money Fair, which is being held in London.

The Fair is being organised by the International Bank Note Society.

Society director, Jonathan Callaway said: “You can’t see his name very easily - you would have to know it was there - and nobody realised what he had done.

“He must have thought that somebody would spot his personal addition before the printing process but, maybe to his horror, it got through the quality control process.

“I suppose by that stage he felt he had no choice but to keep quiet and hope nobody would realise.

“The company would have had to re-engrave the plate again which would have been a fairly expensive business and he probably would have been sacked.

“At least 50 million of the notes with his name on were printed and distributed around Scotland and England.

“Quite why he chose to admit to it so many years later, I don’t know. Maybe it was something he wanted to get off his chest before he died.”

Egan had emigrated to America, and was back in Scotland to visit his family who still live in Edinburgh, when he confessed.

After being granted an audience with an RBS Chief Cashier, Egan pointed out his indiscretion - which hadn’t been spotted before he coughed up.

Egan wasn't the first banknote artist to incorporate his signature into a design, and I doubt he was the last. Can anyone provide us with other examples of "hidden" signatures like this? -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
Scots printer forged his way into history by adding his signature to 50 million bank notes after carving it onto printing plate (www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/weird-news/scots-printer-forged-way-history-6461696)



Wayne Homren, Editor

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