Last year, the Nile team led the effort to design Scotland’s new £5 note – an inspirational and hugely iconic project that succeeded on a scale we couldn’t have anticipated. Now, on October 4th, the new Scottish £10 note will be released into the wild, and we couldn’t be prouder of our work on it.

The new polymer note series is the first to be released since 1987 and we’re confident we’ve created a note that reflects what’s in the hearts of the people of Scotland. The design process has been a great opportunity to uncover the significant moments and feelings of our nation. To develop the theme and concept of this note, we engaged people all across Scotland including 27 designers and more than 1,000 members of the public.

Sarah Ronald and Ross McEwan

Sarah Ronald (Founder Nile) and Ross McEwan (CEO, The Royal Bank of Scotland)

 

“We wanted the public to influence the design in a big way, which is why we engaged Nile – a fantastic service design agency – to bring that concept to life.”

– Ross McEwan, CEO, The Royal Bank of Scotland

 

It’s a rare opportunity to be intimately involved in the design of your country’s currency. It’s been an especially fascinating experience given that this could be the last time our physical currency is ever designed. Digital currencies are on the rise, so who knows what the situation will look like in 30 years? That said, there are 800 million £10 notes in circulation across the UK today – an incredible number that signals paper notes aren’t disappearing from use too imminently.

Over the last 290 years of Scottish bank notes, The Royal Bank of Scotland have always been innovators. They moved us on from handwritten currency, were the first to launch double-sided notes and then pioneered colour designs too. The new £10 note continues in the same vein, with a variety of unique features to help it stand out from other currencies around the world.

For example, it features a flourish of dulce (used by early Scots for its rich brown dye) and a bespoke tweed pattern called “Dog Otters Tooth”. On the all-important subject of otters, it also carries across a theme from the £5 note: one side of the design shows Scottish otters frolicking happily together. Two sets of raised dots at the bottom corner of the note make it easier for the visually impaired to identify the note as a tenner too.

Ultra violet light note showing markings

Testing out the UV light which shows the security markings

The natural colour and light of the design showcases the beauty of Scotland’s landscape and heritage, while also paying homage to Mary Somerville, the 19th-century scientist, writer and translator who found her passion for mathematics and astronomy on the shores of Burntisland in Fife, a drawing of which also appears on the note.

Our friends at De La Rue – the leading bank note manufacturer that’s been operating since 1821 – believe we’ve created one of the most secure notes in circulation. While the new note will leave counterfeiters scratching their heads, we didn’t let security come at the expense of beautiful or meaningful design. The words of Norman Maccaig, one of Scotland’s great poets, lie hidden in the note as a security feature, discoverable only under UV light, as do mechanical representations of the sun and the moon, which relate to Mary Somerville’s original works.

All of this was achieved through the collaborative efforts of: Nile, O Street, Graven Images, Timorous Beasties and Stuco. Excitingly, this isn’t the end of the road for our collaborative team: the next challenge we’re set to tackle is the Scottish £20 note. Sign up to our newsletter below to keep updated on the progress.

Have you seen the £5 note design story? Check it out here.

£10 core design team

LTR: Janice Kirkpatrick(Graven), Sarah Ronald (Nile), Alistair McAuley (Timorous Beasties), Neil Wallace (O street), Stuart Kerr (Stuco Design), Jeni Lennox (Nile). Also thanks to Peter Dibdin and Susie Leiper.