Unlike the rest of the Britain, Scotland has three banks which are licensed to print money. In England and Wales, only the Bank of England has such a licence, but in Scotland the Bank of Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Clydesdale Bank each produce their own design of banknotes.
The Bank of Scotland opened for business in 1696, with the Royal Bank of Scotland set up in direct commercial opposition to it in 1726, and the Clydesdale following more than a century later in 1838.
This means that for each denomination of currency note - £5, £10, £20 and £50 - in Scotland you may see up to FOUR different designs for each one!
For a short time, from September 2016, the Bank of England has two designs of its £5 note in circulation - the old paper versions will be withdrawn in May 2017 leaving only the new polymer/plastic versions which are being released. The new design incorporates increased security features, is slightly smaller than the existing note, and is more durable - no more soggy fivers retrieved from back pockets after accidentally going through the washing machine! The new design features Winston Churchill on its reverse, and means that for this short period there will be FIVE designs of £5 notes in British circulation!
All the notes are accepted as legal tender across the UK - Scottish banks have to hold one Bank of England note for each of their own notes that they issue - although south of the border some smaller retailers and self-service payment machines may struggle to accept them.
To keep things simple, only the Royal Mint in England produces sterling coinage, so coins only come in standard designs....!
Edinburgh Expert Walking Tours is run by Gareth Davies, an adopted native of Edinburgh since 1998...