Bank of England Museum

Towards the end of week 2 I went for the first time to Bank of England Museum, for a short visit because I had only one hour.

The Bank of England was founded in 1694 to raise funds for the government during a time of war with France. Thereafter the Bank assumed the role of the nation’s central bank. The Bank moved in Threadneedle Street in 1734. There the Bank has obtained its famous nickname and its comes from a James Gillray cartoon published in 1797. Over 2 centuries later, the Bank is still known as The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street.

The cartoon shows the Prime Minister of the day, William Pitt the Younger who appears to be courting an old lady, who represents the Bank of England, but he is actually trying to get his hands on the Bank of England’s gold reserves. She is seated on a chest full of money and we can see that the Old Lady is dressed in a gown made of the new £1 and £2 notes issued to replace gold coins in circulation. The scene is set in the “Rotunda”, at the time a public office in the Bank’s Threadneedle Street building.

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The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street by James Gillray (1797). Accessed: 23/10/2016    Internet source: https://i.guim.co.uk/img/static/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2013/5/14/1368528630813/James-Gillray-cartoon-009.jpg?w=620&q=55&auto=format&usm=12&fit=max&s=5ac13f503fbd1bd57d9d1338330fd945
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A collage I’ve made of the “Old Lady”. I’ve used leaflets from the Museum and some paper money napkins. (h:70cm x w: 50cm)
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Detail with the Old Lady from one of the leaflets of the Museum (“See money come to life” – April 2016 – Version 1.1).

Bibliography:

Bank of England: knowledgebank.  Available at: http://edu.bankofengland.co.uk/knowledgebank/who-is-the-old-lady-of-threadneedle-street/   (Accessed: 13/10/2016)

Leaflet from Bank of England Museum: “Your money what the Bank does”. (The postcards were written by Joe Ganley at the Bank of England.)

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