Bank of England
The Bank of England is the central bank of the United Kingdom and the model on which most modern central banks have been based. Established in 1694 to act as the English Government's banker, still one of the bankers for the Government of the United Kingdom, it is the world's eighth-oldest bank, it was owned by stockholders from its foundation in 1694 until it was nationalised in 1946. The Bank became an independent public organisation in 1998, wholly owned by the Treasury Solicitor on behalf of the government, but with independence in setting monetary policy; the Bank is one of eight banks authorised to issue banknotes in the United Kingdom, has a monopoly on the issue of banknotes in England and Wales and regulates the issue of banknotes by commercial banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Bank's Monetary Policy Committee has a devolved responsibility for managing monetary policy; the Treasury has reserve powers to give orders to the committee "if they are required in the public interest and by extreme economic circumstances", but such orders must be endorsed by Parliament within 28 days.
The Bank's Financial Policy Committee held its first meeting in June 2011 as a macroprudential regulator to oversee regulation of the UK's financial sector. The Bank's headquarters have been in London's main financial district, the City of London, on Threadneedle Street, since 1734, it is sometimes known as The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street, a name taken from a satirical cartoon by James Gillray in 1797. The road junction outside is known as Bank junction; as a regulator and central bank, the Bank of England has not offered consumer banking services for many years, but it still does manage some public-facing services such as exchanging superseded bank notes. Until 2016, the bank provided personal banking services as a privilege for employees. England's crushing defeat by France, the dominant naval power, in naval engagements culminating in the 1690 Battle of Beachy Head, became the catalyst for England rebuilding itself as a global power. England had no choice. No public funds were available, the credit of William III's government was so low in London that it was impossible for it to borrow the £1,200,000 that the government wanted.
To induce subscription to the loan, the subscribers were to be incorporated by the name of the Governor and Company of the Bank of England. The Bank was given exclusive possession of the government's balances, was the only limited-liability corporation allowed to issue bank notes; the lenders would give the government cash and issue notes against the government bonds, which can be lent again. The £1.2m was raised in 12 days. As a side effect, the huge industrial effort needed, including establishing ironworks to make more nails and advances in agriculture feeding the quadrupled strength of the navy, started to transform the economy; this helped the new Kingdom of Great Britain – England and Scotland were formally united in 1707 – to become powerful. The power of the navy made Britain the dominant world power in the late 18th and early 19th centuries; the establishment of the bank was devised by Charles Montagu, 1st Earl of Halifax, in 1694. The plan of 1691, proposed by William Paterson three years before, had not been acted upon.
58 years earlier, in 1636, Financier to the king, Philip Burlamachi, had proposed the same idea in a letter addressed to Sir Francis Windebank. He proposed a loan of £1.2m to the government. The royal charter was granted on 27 July through the passage of the Tonnage Act 1694. Public finances were in such dire condition at the time that the terms of the loan were that it was to be serviced at a rate of 8% per annum, there was a service charge of £4,000 per annum for the management of the loan; the first governor was Sir John Houblon, depicted in the £50 note issued in 1994. The charter was renewed in 1742, 1764, 1781; the Bank's original home was in Walbrook, a street in the City of London, where during reconstruction in 1954 archaeologists found the remains of a Roman temple of Mithras. The Bank moved to its current location in Threadneedle Street in 1734, thereafter acquired neighbouring land to create the site necessary for erecting the Bank's original home at this location, under the direction of its chief architect Sir John Soane, between 1790 and 1827.
When the idea and reality of the national debt came about during the 18th century, this was managed by the Bank. During the American war of independence, business for the Bank was so good that George Washington remained a shareholder throughout the period. By the charter renewal in 1781 it was the bankers' bank – keeping enough gold to pay its notes on demand until 26 February 1797 when war had so diminished gold reserves that – following an invasion scare caused by the Battle of Fishguard days earlier – the government prohibited the Bank from paying out in gold by the passing of the Bank Restriction Act 1797; this prohibition lasted until 1821. The 1844 Bank Charter Act tied the issue of notes to the gold reserves and gave the Bank sol
Bank of Scotland
The Bank of Scotland plc is a commercial and clearing bank based in Edinburgh, Scotland. With a history dating to the 17th century, it is the fifth-oldest surviving bank in the United Kingdom, is the only commercial institution created by the Parliament of Scotland to remain in existence, it was one of the first banks in Europe to print its own banknotes, it continues to print its own sterling banknotes under legal arrangements that allow Scottish banks to issue currency. In June 2006, the HBOS Group Reorganisation Act 2006 was passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, allowing the bank's structure to be simplified; as a result, The Governor and Company of the Bank of Scotland became Bank of Scotland plc on 17 September 2007. Bank of Scotland has been a subsidiary of Lloyds Banking Group since 19 January 2009, when HBOS was acquired by Lloyds TSB; the Governor and Company of the Bank of Scotland was established by an Act of the Parliament of Scotland on 17 July 1695, the Act for erecting a Bank in Scotland, opening for business in February 1696.
Although established soon after the Bank of England, the Bank of Scotland was a different institution. Where the Bank of England was established to finance defence spending by the English government, the Bank of Scotland was established by the Scottish government to support Scottish business, was prohibited from lending to the government without parliamentary approval; the founding Act granted the bank a monopoly on public banking in Scotland for 21 years, permitted the bank's directors to raise a nominal capital of £1,200,000 pound Scots, gave the proprietors limited liability, in the final clause made all foreign-born proprietors naturalised Scotsmen "to all Intents and Purposes whatsoever". John Holland, an Englishman, was one of the bank's founders, its first chief accountant was George Watson. The Bank of Scotland was suspected of Jacobite sympathies, its first rival, The Royal Bank of Scotland was formed by royal charter in 1727. This led to a period of great competition between the two banks as they tried to drive each other out of business.
Although the "Bank Wars" ended in around 1751, competition soon arose from other sources, as other Scottish banks were founded throughout the country. In response, the Bank of Scotland itself began to open branches throughout Scotland; the first branch in London opened in 1865. The bank took the lead in establishing the security and stability of the entire Scottish banking system, which became more important after the collapse of the Ayr Bank in 1772, in the crisis following the collapse of the London house of Neal, James and Down; the Western Bank collapsed in 1857, the Bank of Scotland stepped in with the other Scottish banks to ensure that all the Western Bank's notes were paid. See Credit crisis of 1772. In the 1950s, the Bank of Scotland was involved in several mergers and acquisitions with different banks. In 1955, the Bank merged with the Union Bank of Scotland; the Bank expanded into consumer credit with the purchase of Chester based, North West Securities. In 1971, the Bank agreed to merge with the British Linen Bank, owned by Barclays Bank.
The merger saw Barclays Bank acquire a 35% stake in the Bank of Scotland, a stake it retained until the 1990s. The merchant banking division of the Bank of Scotland was relaunched as British Linen Bank. In 1959 Bank of Scotland became the first bank in the UK to install a computer to process accounts centrally. At 11 am on 25 January 1985 the Bank introduced HOBS, an early application of remote access technology being made available to banking customers; this followed a small-scale service operated jointly with the Nottingham Building Society for two years but developed by Bank of Scotland. The new HOBS service enabled customers to access their accounts directly on a television screen, using the Prestel telephone network; the arrival of North Sea oil to Scotland in the 1970s allowed the Bank of Scotland to expand into the energy sector. The Bank used this expertise in energy finance to expand internationally; the first international office opened in Houston, followed by more in the United States and Singapore.
In 1987, the Bank acquired Countrywide Bank of New Zealand. The Bank expanded into the Australian market by acquiring the Perth-based Bank of Western Australia. A controversial period in the Bank's history was the attempt in 1999 to enter the United States retail banking market via a joint venture with evangelist Pat Robertson; the move was met with criticism from civil rights groups in the UK, owing to Robertson's controversial views on homosexuality. The Bank was forced to cancel the deal when Robertson described Scotland as a "dark land overrun by homosexuals". In the late 1990s, the UK financial sector market underwent a period of consolidation on a large scale. Many of the large building societies were demutualising and becoming banks in their own right or merging with existing banks. For instance Lloyds Bank and TSB Bank merged in 1995 to create Lloyds TSB. In 1999, the Bank of Scotland made a takeover bid for National Westminster Bank. Since the Bank of Scotland was smaller than the English-based NatWest, the move was seen as an audacious and risky move.
However, The Royal Bank of Scotland tabled a rival offer, a bitter takeover battle ensued, with the Royal Bank the victor. The Bank of Scotland was now the centre of other merger opportunities. A proposal to merge with the Abbey National was explored, but rejected. In 2
Athena or Athene given the epithet Pallas, is an ancient Greek goddess associated with wisdom and warfare, syncretized with the Roman goddess Minerva. Athena was regarded as the patron and protectress of various cities across Greece the city of Athens, from which she most received her name, she is shown in art wearing a helmet and holding a spear. Her major symbols include owls, olive trees and the Gorgoneion. From her origin as an Aegean palace goddess, Athena was associated with the city, she was known as Polias and Poliouchos, her temples were located atop the fortified Acropolis in the central part of the city. The Parthenon on the Athenian Acropolis is dedicated to her, along with numerous other temples and monuments; as the patron of craft and weaving, Athena was known as Ergane. She was a warrior goddess, was believed to lead soldiers into battle as Athena Promachos, her main festival in Athens was the Panathenaia, celebrated during the month of Hekatombaion in midsummer and was the most important festival on the Athenian calendar.
In Greek mythology, Athena was believed to have been born from the head of her father Zeus. In the founding myth of Athens, Athena bested Poseidon in a competition over patronage of the city by creating the first olive tree, she was known as Athena Parthenos, but, in one archaic Attic myth, the god Hephaestus tried and failed to rape her, resulting in Gaia giving birth to Erichthonius, an important Athenian founding hero. Athena was the patron goddess of heroic endeavor. Along with Aphrodite and Hera, Athena was one of the three goddesses whose feud resulted in the beginning of the Trojan War, she plays an active role in the Iliad, in which she assists the Achaeans and, in the Odyssey, she is the divine counselor to Odysseus. In the writings of the Roman poet Ovid, Athena was said to have competed against the mortal Arachne in a weaving competition, afterwards transforming Arachne into the first spider. Since the Renaissance, Athena has become an international symbol of wisdom, the arts, classical learning.
Western artists and allegorists have used Athena as a symbol of freedom and democracy. Athena is associated with the city of Athens; the name of the city in ancient Greek is Ἀθῆναι, a plural toponym, designating the place where—according to myth—she presided over the Athenai, a sisterhood devoted to her worship. In ancient times, scholars argued whether Athena was named after Athens after Athena. Now scholars agree that the goddess takes her name from the city. Testimonies from different cities in ancient Greece attest that similar city goddesses were worshipped in other cities and, like Athena, took their names from the cities where they were worshipped. For example, in Mycenae there was a goddess called Mykene, whose sisterhood was known as Mykenai, whereas at Thebes an analogous deity was called Thebe, the city was known under the plural form Thebai; the name Athenai is of Pre-Greek origin because it contains the Pre-Greek morpheme *-ān-. In his dialogue Cratylus, the Greek philosopher Plato gives some rather imaginative etymologies of Athena's name, based on the theories of the ancient Athenians and his own etymological speculations: That is a graver matter, there, my friend, the modern interpreters of Homer may, I think, assist in explaining the view of the ancients.
For most of these in their explanations of the poet, assert that he meant by Athena "mind" and "intelligence", the maker of names appears to have had a singular notion about her. However, the name Theonoe may mean "she who knows divine things" better than others. Nor shall we be far wrong in supposing that the author of it wished to identify this Goddess with moral intelligence, therefore gave her the name Etheonoe. Thus, Plato believed that Athena's name was derived from Greek Ἀθεονόα, Atheonóa—which the Greeks rationalised as from the deity's mind; the second-century AD orator Aelius Aristides attempted to derive natural symbols from the etymological roots of Athena's names to be aether, air and moon. Athena was the Aegean goddess of the palace, who presided over household crafts and protected the king. A single Mycenaean Greek inscription a-ta-na po-ti-ni-ja /Athana potnia/ appears at Knossos in the Linear B tablets from the Late Minoan II-era "Room of the Chariot Tablets". Although Athana potnia is translated Mistress Athena, it could mean "the Potnia of Athana", or the Lady of Athens.
However, any connection to the city of Athens in the Knossos inscription is uncertain. A sign series a-ta-no-dju-wa-ja appears in the still undeciphered corpus of Linear A tablets, written in the unclassified Minoan language; this could be connected with the Linear B Mycenaean expressions a-ta-na po-ti-ni-ja and di-u-ja or di-wi-ja (Diwia, "of Zeus" or, possibly
Banknotes of Scotland
Banknotes of Scotland are the banknotes of the Pound Sterling that are issued by the Scottish banks and in circulation in Scotland. The issuing of banknotes by retail banks in Scotland is subject to the Bank Charter Act 1844, the Banknotes Act 1845, the Currency and Bank Notes Act 1928, the Coinage Act 1971. Three retail banks are allowed to print notes for circulation in Scotland: Bank of Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale Bank. Scottish banknotes are unusual, first because they are issued by retail banks, not central banks, second, because they are technically not legal tender anywhere in the United Kingdom – not in Scotland; as such, they are classified as promissory notes, the law requires that the issuing banks hold a sum of Bank of England banknotes or gold equivalent to the total value of notes issued. The fact that the notes are not defined as legal tender means that they are not withdrawn from circulation in the same way as the Bank of England notes, which cease to be legal tender on a given date.
Instead the Scottish banks withdraw old notes from circulation as they are banked. Any notes still in circulation continue to be honoured by banks, but retailers may refuse to accept older notes. All Bank of Scotland notes bear a portrait of Sir Walter Scott on the front in commemoration of his 1826 Malachi Malagrowther campaign for Scottish banks to retain the right to issue their own notes; the Bank of Scotland's 2007 series of banknotes is known as the Bridges of Scotland series. These notes were introduced on 17 September 2007, show Scotland's most famous bridges on the reverse side. From 2016, the Bridges of Scotland series is being renewed with the issue of new polymer notes with designs that follow the same basic theme of "bridges"; the Tercentenary and 2007 series of notes are being withdrawn from circulation and replaced with the polymer series as these are issued, but older notes continue to be accepted at banks. In line with this, the Committee of Scottish Bankers encouraged the public to spend or exchange non-polymer five and ten pound notes before 1 March 2018.
Following the announcement that HBOS would be taken over by Lloyds TSB in September 2008, it was confirmed that the new banking company would continue to print bank notes under the Bank of Scotland name. According to the Bank Notes Act 1845, the bank could have lost its note-issuing rights, but by retaining headquarters within Scotland, banknote issue continued; as of August 2017, the Royal Bank of Scotland is in the process of adopting a new series of banknotes. These will be made of polymer. Two have been released, whilst a new £20 note is being designed; the £5 note shows Nan Shepherd on the obverse accompanied by a quote from her book'The Living Mountain', the Cairngorms in the background. The reverse displays two mackerel, with an excerpt from the poem ‘The Choice’ by Sorley MacLean; the obverse of the £10 note shows Mary Somerville, with a quote from her work'The Connection of the Physical Sciences', Burntisland beach in the background. The reverse displays an excerpt from the poem ` Moorings' by Norman MacCaig.
The obverse of the £20 note, to be introduced in 2020, will show Catherine Cranston. The design process of the notes was touted as a "collaboration with the people of Scotland", with a total of 1,178 Scots being included. Nile HQ, a Strategic Design Company led De La Rue printed the notes; each note contributes to an overall theme ‘Fabric of Nature’. Given the national significance of the notes, Nile HQ invited some Scottish designers and calligraphers to develop the creative concept for the new notes; the previous series of Royal Bank of Scotland notes issued in 1987, remains in circulation, although it is now in the process of being replaced by polymer notes: the Committee of Scottish Bankers encouraged the public to spend or exchange non-polymer five and ten pound notes before 1 March 2018.. On the front of each note is a picture of Lord Ilay, the first governor of the bank, based on a portrait painted in 1744 by the Edinburgh artist Allan Ramsay; the front of the notes features an engraving of the bank's former headquarters in St Andrew Square, Edinburgh.
The background graphic on both sides of the notes is a radial star design, based on the ornate ceiling of the banking hall in the old headquarters building. On the back of the notes are images of Scottish castles, with a different castle for each denomination; the Royal Bank of Scotland issues commemorative banknotes. Examples are the £1 note issued to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Alexander Graham Bell in 1997, the £20 note for the 100th birthday of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in 2000, the £5 note honouring veteran golfer Jack Nicklaus in his last competitive Open Championship at St Andrews in 2005, the £10 note commemorating HM Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee in 2012; these notes are much sought after by collectors, they remain long in circulation. Clydesdale Bank has three series of banknotes in circulation at present; the most recent set of notes, the Polymer series, came into circulation in March 2015, when the Clydesdale Bank became the first bank in Great Britain to issue polymer banknotes.
The £5 commemorative notes, issued to mark the 125th anniversary of the construction of the Forth Bridge, contain several new security features including a reflective graphic printed over a transparent "window" in the banknote. Further notes in the polymer series will be introduced over time, replacing the previous paper notes: the public are being encouraged to spend or exchange non-polymer five and ten
Banknotes of Northern Ireland
Banknotes have been issued for use in Northern Ireland since 1929, are denominated in pounds sterling. They are legal currency, but technically not legal tender anywhere. However, the banknotes are still accepted as currency by larger merchants and institutions elsewhere in the United Kingdom. Issuing banks have been granted legal rights to issue currency, back the notes with deposits at the Bank of England; the issuing of banknotes in Northern Ireland is regulated by the Currency and Bank Notes Act 1928, the Coinage Act 1971, Banknotes Act 1864, Banknotes Act 1920, Bankers Act 1845, Bankers Act 1928, among others. Pursuant to some of these statutes, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs publishes in the Belfast Gazette an account of "the Amount of Notes authorised by Law to be issued by the several Banks of Issue in Northern Ireland, the Average Amount of Notes in Circulation, of Bank of England Notes and Coin held". On the 27th of February 2019, Ulster Bank and Bank of Ireland released new polymer £5 and £10 notes, while Danske Bank released new polymer £10 notes.
Notes were issued in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 pounds. Of these denominations, only the 1 pound has ceased to be issued by all banks, with the last produced by the Allied Irish Banks in 1984; the 5 pound note is only issued now by Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank, Northern Bank stopped issuing notes over £20 when it was rebranded as Danske Bank. Until April 2008, all Bank of Ireland notes featured Queen's University of Belfast on the reverse side. A new series of £5, £10 and £20 notes was issued in May 2008, all featuring an illustration of the Old Bushmills Distillery, these notes will replace the previous series; the various denominations are differentiated by their colour and size: 5 pound note, blue 10 pound note, pink 20 pound note, green 50 pound note, blue-green. First Trust Bank is a subsidiary of the Allied Irish Banks. AIB was formed in 1966 from a merger of a group of smaller banks. Following this merger, banknotes issued by the Provincial Bank of Ireland were reissued with the Allied Irish Banks name.
In 1991, AIB merged with TSB Northern Ireland and began trading as the First Trust Bank, since the bank's notes have been issued under the First Trust Bank name. First Trust Bank's current notes have a generic depiction of a Northern Irish person. A young middle-aged man appears on the £10 note, an elderly woman on the £20 note, an elderly man on the £50 note, both elderly people together on the £100 note; the obverse designs feature images associated with the Spanish Armada, commemorating the wrecking of 24 Armada ships off the coast of County Antrim in 1588: 10 pound note featuring the ship Girona 20 pound note featuring the chimney at Lacada Point, Giant's Causeway, near Dunluce, County Antrim, where the Girona was wrecked 50 pound note featuring a commemorative medal 100 pound note featuring the Spanish ArmadaA £5 note featuring Dunluce Castle on the obverse and a £1 note featuring the Girona were issued by the Provincial Bank of Ireland and by AIB, but have not been issued by First Trust Bank.
In February 2019, First Trust Bank will cease issuing its own banknotes in circulation and will replace them with Bank of England banknotes as they are withdrawn from circulation. All First Trust Bank notes can continue to be used until 30 June 2022, after which time they will cease to be legal currency. Following the £26.5 million pound robbery in 2004 at Northern Bank's money handling centre in Belfast, Northern Bank announced, on 7 January 2005, that all its notes were to be recalled and reissued in different colours and styles, using the bank's new logo. The reissue was scheduled to take one month. In 2012, Northern Bank adopted the name of its Copenhagen-based parent company Danske Bank Group and now trades as Danske Bank. Northern Bank had been a subsidiary of the Midland Bank and subsequently National Australia Bank, its banknote design has changed over the years as the company changed hands. In June 2013, the bank issued a new series of £10 and £20 notes bearing the new Danske Bank name in place of Northern Bank.
Older notes bearing the Northern Bank name will continue in circulation for some time as they are withdrawn, remain acceptable forms of payment. Most Danske Bank banknotes depict a range of notable people associated with industry in Northern Ireland on the obverse; the reverse of each note has an illustration of the portico of Belfast City Hall, sculpted by F. W. Pomeroy; the principal colours of Northern Bank notes of greater than £5 face value were changed with the 2005 reissue, are now: While Danske Bank does not issue £5 notes, a special commemorative £5 note was issued by the Northern Bank to mark the Year 2000. Uniquely among sterling notes, this was a polymer banknote, printed by the Canadian Bank Note Company on Australia synthetic polymer substrate instead of paper, making Northern Ireland the first part of the UK to have issued a plastic banknote, it is the only one of the bank's pre-2004 notes still in circulation. Ulster Bank's current notes all share a rather plain design of a view of Belfast harbour flanked by landscape views
The pound sterling known as the pound and less referred to as sterling, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, the British Antarctic Territory, Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence. A number of nations that do not use sterling have currencies called the pound. Sterling is the third most-traded currency in the foreign exchange market, after the United States dollar, the euro. Together with those two currencies and the Chinese yuan, it forms the basket of currencies which calculate the value of IMF special drawing rights. Sterling is the third most-held reserve currency in global reserves; the British Crown dependencies of Guernsey and the Isle of Man produce their own local issues of sterling which are considered equivalent to UK sterling in their respective regions. The pound sterling is used in Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands, Saint Helena and Ascension Island in Saint Helena and Tristan da Cunha; the Bank of England is the central bank for the pound sterling, issuing its own coins and banknotes, regulating issuance of banknotes by private banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Banknotes issued by other jurisdictions are not regulated by the Bank of England. The full official name pound sterling, is used in formal contexts and when it is necessary to distinguish the United Kingdom currency from other currencies with the same name. Otherwise the term pound is used; the currency name is sometimes abbreviated to just sterling in the wholesale financial markets, but not when referring to specific amounts. The abbreviations "ster." and "stg." are sometimes used. The term "British pound" is sometimes incorrectly used in less formal contexts, it is not an official name of the currency; the exchange rate of the pound sterling against the US dollar is referred to as "cable" in the wholesale foreign exchange markets. The origins of this term are attributed to the fact that in the 1800s, the GBP/USD exchange rate was transmitted via transatlantic cable. Forex traders of GBP/USD are sometimes referred to as "cable dealers". GBP/USD is now the only currency pair with its own name in the foreign exchange markets, after IEP/USD, known as "wire" in the forward FX markets, no longer exists after the Irish Pound was replaced by the euro in 1999.
There is apparent convergence of opinion regarding the origin of the term "pound sterling", toward its derivation from the name of a small Norman silver coin, away from its association with Easterlings or other etymologies. Hence, the Oxford English Dictionary state that the "most plausible" etymology is derivation from the Old English steorra for "star" with the added diminutive suffix "-ling", to mean "little star" and to refer to a silver penny of the English Normans; as another established source notes, the compound expression was derived: However, the perceived narrow window of the issuance of this coin, the fact that coin designs changed in the period in question, led Philip Grierson to reject this in favour of a more complex theory. Another argument that the Hanseatic League was the origin for both the origin of its definition and manufacture, in its name is that the German name for the Baltic is "Ost See", or "East Sea", from this the Baltic merchants were called "Osterlings", or "Easterlings".
In 1260, Henry III granted them a charter of protection and land for their Kontor, the Steelyard of London, which by the 1340s was called "Easterlings Hall", or Esterlingeshalle. Because the League's money was not debased like that of England, English traders stipulated to be paid in pounds of the "Easterlings", contracted to "'sterling". For further discussion of the etymology of "sterling", see sterling silver; the currency sign for the pound is £, written with a single cross-bar, though a version with a double cross-bar is sometimes seen. This symbol derives from medieval Latin documents; the ISO 4217 currency code is GBP, formed from "GB", the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 code for the United Kingdom, the first letter of "pound". It does not stand for "Great Britain Pound" or "Great British Pound"; the abbreviation "UKP" is used but this is non-standard because the ISO 3166 country code for the United Kingdom is GB. The Crown dependencies use their own codes: GGP, JEP and IMP. Stocks are traded in pence, so traders may refer to pence sterling, GBX, when listing stock prices.
A common slang term for the pound sterling or pound is quid, singular and plural, except in the common phrase "quids in!". The term may have come via Italian immigrants from "scudo", the name for a number of coins used in Italy until the 19th century.
In the Middle Ages, the term bezant was used in Western Europe to describe several gold coins of the east, all derived from the Roman solidus. The word itself comes from the Greek Byzantion, ancient name of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire; the original "bezants" were the gold coins produced by the government of the Byzantine Empire, first the nomisma and from the 11th century the hyperpyron. The term was used to cover the gold dinars produced by Islamic governments. In turn, the gold coins minted in the Kingdom of Jerusalem and County of Tripoli were termed "Saracen bezants", since they were modelled on the gold dinar. A different electrum coin based on Byzantine trachea was minted in the Kingdom of Cyprus and called the "white bezant"; the term "bezant" in reference to coins is common in sources from the 10th through 13th centuries. Thereafter, it is employed as a money of account and in literary and heraldic contexts. Gold coins were minted in early medieval Western Europe, up until the 13th century.
Gold coins were continually produced by the Byzantines and medieval Arabs. These circulated in Western European trade in smallish numbers, originating from the coinage mints of the Eastern Mediterranean. In Western Europe, the gold coins of Byzantine currency were prized; these gold coins were called bezants. The first "bezants" were the Byzantine solidi coins; the name hyperpyron was used by the late medieval Greeks, while the name bezant was used by the late medieval Latin merchants for the same coin. The Italians used the name perpero or pipero for the same coin. Medievally from the 12th century onward, the Western European term bezant meant the gold dinar coins minted by Islamic governments; the Islamic coins were modelled on the Byzantine solidus during the early years after the onset of Islam. The term bezant was used in the late medieval Republic of Venice to refer to the Egyptian gold dinar. Marco Polo used the term bezant in the account of his travels to East Asia when describing the currencies of the Yuan Empire around the year 1300.
An Italian merchant's handbook dated about 1340, Pratica della mercatura by Pegolotti, used the term bisant for coins of North Africa, Cyprus and Tabriz, whereas it used the term perpero / pipero for the Byzantine bizant. Although the medieval "bezant" was a gold coin, medieval Latin texts have silver coin bezants; the silver bezants were called "white bezants". In Latin they were called "miliaresion bezants" / "miliarense bezants". Like the gold bezants, the silver bezants by definition were issuances by the Byzantine government or by an Arabic government, not by a Latin government, the usage of the term was confined to the Latin West. In heraldry, a roundel of a gold colour is referred to in reference to the coin. Like many heraldic charges, the bezant originated during the crusading era, when Western European knights first came into contact with Byzantine gold coins, were struck with their fine quality and purity. During the Fourth Crusade the city of Constantinople was sacked by Western forces.
During this sacking of the richest city of Europe, the gold bezant would have been much in evidence, many of the knights no doubt having helped themselves liberally to the booty. This event took place at the dawn of the widespread adoption of arms by the knightly class, thus it may have been an obvious symbol for many returned crusaders to use in their new arms; when arms are strewn with bezants, the term bezantée or bezanty is used