We have recently added some beautiful banknotes from The Isle of Man to our website, therefore what a great time to write a blog about these beautiful banknotes.
While the denomination for notes in the Isle of Man is usually denoted as pounds, the correct terminology referring to their value would be Manx pounds. Manx is a branch of the Celtic language and native to the Island.
The Isle of Man has a very interesting numismatic history, with the first coinage being issued privately in 1668 by a local merchant and eventually becoming the legal tender in 1679. The development of coins in the Isle of Man has had a lot of interesting twists and turns, and at one point the government even banned coins from being removed from the Island. Coinage changed over the course of the hundreds of years, and then banknotes were also introduced.
In the beginning paper currency began very similar to their coinage counterpart, being issued by individuals. As you can imagine, having several different issues of banknotes led to a prolific amount of notes in circulation as well as a high amount of counterfeiting. In 1817 The Act of Tynwald was legislation brought in by the Tynwald (IOM High Court) in response to this problematic paper currency. The Act required any banknote issuer to obtain a license and a limit was placed on the quantity of notes which could be issued. It was also required that all notes issued would now be secured and backed by the issuer’s assets.
In the following 150 years after the Act of 1817 individual issuers slowly decreased and there was a shift towards private companies and banks becoming the new banknote issuers. The most famous of these was Dumbell’s Banking Company, which in 1853 founded the Douglas & Isle of Man Bank. These issuing banks had been predominantly Manx, however after the 19th Century with the downfall of Dumbell’s Bank this changed to being majority English.
In February 1900 Dumbell’s Bank collapsed, weakening the Manx banking sector and accelerated the decline of smaller banks. English banks started looking at having a foothold in the Isle of Man and began mergers and takeovers of local Manx bankers. This trend continued through the first half of the twentieth century bringing with it the decline of Manx to the IOM banking world
In 1961 the government brought in new legislation, with another Act of Tynwald. This Act removed the right of individual banks to issue their own notes and granted the Isle of Man Government exclusive rights to solely issue banknotes, and they have done every since. The Isle of Man Government designed their notes with the help of artwork from John Nicholson (a 20th century Manx artist) and depicts famous landmarks. They also introduced the image of Queen Elizabeth II to every banknote (however she is not wearing a crown in the portrait).
Since I am working on the EU Series of pre-euro banknotes I was interested to learn about The Isle of Man and their ability to keep the Manx pound and not convert to the euro. I must say, it made me smile to discover that IOM issued the Currency Act of 1992 in preparation for the euro-takeover. The IOM governments position in regard to the euro, was related to the UK and would have participated if the United Kingdom did. However, this Act stated that in the event of the UK adopting the euro, then the IOM wished to retain the rights to issue their own currency, believing it to be an important public statement of independence. The proposal insisted that if the UK decided to adopt the euro, then IOM would follow suit but wished to issue what they called “substitute euros” keeping the Isle of Man inscription on the currency.
An interesting look into 200 years of paper currency history for the Isle of Man, and a better look into the beautiful banknotes. Click here to see all our Isle of Man banknotes.