The gold standard
The first bank notes issued in 1694 were actually receipts given in exchange for gold and you could ask the Bank of England for the note’s equivalent in the precious metal – sadly if you did that now, you’d be very disappointed.
The first ‘proper’ £5 note was launched in 1793, printed on white paper, it was known as the ‘white fiver’. White fivers were removed from circulation in 1961 but they’d co-existed with another £5 note, the ‘series B’, which had been issued earlier in 1957.
Since then, £5 notes have gone through several transformations – series C notes, issued in 1963 were the first to feature a reigning monarch and series D that followed were the first to include historical figures. Series E notes are the ones most of us will be familiar with today, they’ve been tweaked several times, mainly for colour with the last variation issued in 2002.