Forged five shillings Falkirk banknote could fetch £500

The five-shilling note is believed to have been forged in the late 18th century
The five-shilling note is believed to have been forged in the late 18th century

Twenty-five pence is is considered a small amount of money now, but in Falkirk 200 years ago it was such a tempting sum that someone went to the trouble of forging a banknote to obtain it!.

The proof that this strange incident took place is coming up for sale at an auction in London next Tuesday when a black and white five shillings note purportedly issued by the Falkirk Banking Company on April 6, 1797, is set to fetch between £400 and £500.

The note features the words ‘Falkirk Banking Co.’ and at first glance it looks genuine. But London auctioneer Spink says it is “probably a contemporary forgery” which means it was replicated around 1797 when five shillings - or 25p - was worth considerably more than it is now.

Despite its age, the allegedly dodgy note is is in “very good” condition and it is “rare” according to Spink.

It is one of four black and white Falkirk banknotes, all produced between 1797 and 1815 when the town was printing its own money, which are expected to sell for between £950 and £1250 at Spink in Bloomsbury, London, next week.

The other three notes in the auction, all produced by the Falkirk Union Bank, are:

A one pound note, issued on July 20, 1815, the year the landmark Battle of Waterloo took place. Pre-sale estimates: £200-£250.

A one guinea note, issued on October 1,1812, the year Charles Dickens was born. Pre-sale estimates: £150-£200.

Another one guinea note, undated but produced in or around 1803. Pre-sale estimates: £200-£300.

According to James Douglas in his book Scottish Banknotes ,the Falkirk Union Banking Company “commenced business in 1803 with a capital of £12,000 held by 14 partners''.

It was sequestrated on October 18, 1816, with liabilities amounting to £60,000 and its failure led to one of the rare occasions in Scottish banking historywhere the noteholders were not paid in full.

The Falkirk notes coming up for sale at Spink are among 400 rare mostly 19th century banknotes put up for sale by the Edinburgh-based Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland.

Barnaby Faull, head of the banknotes department at Spink,said: “The collection is the largest single group of Scottish banknotes we have offered for many years and consists of a wide range of issued notes, proofs, specimens and other material spanning the full age and range of Scottish banks.”