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Noteworthy Currency
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Noteworthy Currency

Picture of Danielle Wood
Updated: 12 December 2015
The world is changing at a fast speed and the latest, most ground-breaking way we witness this progression is in the form of ‘artisanal cash.’ New banknotes are being designed in Britain, the United States and Norway, in an effort to shake off the past and welcome a bold future. The Culture Trip tours the world’s most visually appealing currencies, while buying into the new retro trend that’s catching on across the globe.

Jeremy Deller – the 2004 Turner Prize winner – recently released a new £5 in the area of Brixton, London. The psychedelic design featuring David Bowie and Ziggy Stardust is one in a line of paper currencies circulating cities from Amsterdam to New York. Although the Brixton currency is not yet backed by the Government, it is an example of reinvestment in to the neighbourhood. Those led by the newest cash craze will reap the benefits of the collectable notes being accepted as legitimate currency by local businesses. If you are a fan of supporting local businesses, these notes will serve a multiple purpose: for your daily coffee or avocado exchange.

Coinciding with Bristol’s Green Capital year, the city launched another competition for locals in 2015, for the opportunity to see their artwork appear on new Bristol pound notes. Following the success of past candidates (after the birth of the Bristol pound in 2012) this city-wide contest offers the chosen work the opportunity to be shown on a wider scale, found across the city in tills, pockets and purses. Along with colourful nature scenes depicting the city, favourite Bristol figures such as Colin Pillinger and Isambard Kingdom Brunel have appeared on the banknotes thus far. Like the Brixton currency, the city of Bristol will thrive by using the notes to build their local economy, travelling the reaches of this creative city.

Accross the Atlantic, American notes are replacing their long-standing historic leader designs with modern scientific, creative and environmental achievements, courtesy of Travis Purrington. As part of Purrington’s Master’s thesis, he featured Chicago’s Willis Tower on the $10 bill. The country’s other pioneering efforts are now being crafted onto different monetary values, such as space exploration on the $50 bill. Purrington’s use of vibrant colour adds another modern dimension to the artisanal cash, while holding on to the design elements of the current bills.

Norges Bank are the sponsors of the newly designed Norwegian banknotes to be released in 2017. After the National Bank of Norway asked eight designers to submit their proposals for redesigned currency, the series ‘Norwegian Living Space‘ was designed by graphic design studio The Metric System and Terje Tonnessen, with the back-side titled ‘Beauty of Boundaries,’ designed by Snohetta Design. The front side of the banknotes feature oceanic scenes: a Viking boat and lighthouse which resemble the strength of Norwegian identity, while the reverse sides are digitally mastered blurred versions of the front. The futuristic feel to the Norwegian currency reflects their independent stance form the Euro.

Whatever corner of the globe you live and work in, new currencies are gradually becoming a notable talking point. Money inevitably makes the world go ’round, but these examples prove that currency can represent many different things. These pioneers transform the note from a simple medium of exchange to a work of art, while also championing individuality and supporting their local economic systems.


By Danielle Wood

Danielle is the art editor for the London hub of The Culture Trip. She has a fascination with living a life full of creativity. Theatrical soul. Cinematic admirer. Champion frolicker. Avid foodie. Sunset enthusiast.