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A Series Banknotes
Fourteen Types, by signature and design
Lady Lavery Notes
The Currency Act, 1927 provided for the establishment of the Currency Commission Ireland and empowered it to issue, control and manage a new Irish currency, the Saorstat Pound, later termed the A Series Legal Tender Notes. Six of the nine Joint Stock commercial banks operating on the island of Ireland had the right to issue notes. The new note issue was to replace the notes of these commercial banks in circulation.
For stability, the currency was linked to and exchangeable at par with the British Pound Sterling. The Irish Pound was divided into 20 shillings, and issued in seven denominations, 10 Shillings, £1, £5, £10, £20, £50, and £100.
The design of the A Series Legal Tender Notes were intended to have a strongly Celtic flavour, and to avoid any political symbolism. The Currency Commission had specified that an archetypal Irish Cailin (Girl) should form the central theme of the design of the notes. She was, as Kathleen Ni Houlihan, to symbolise the Irish State, a type of symbol often used in the past. The banknotes were designed by Mr. John Harrison, the Chief Portrait Engraver of Waterlow and Sons Ltd, London, who were to print the notes.
A few years before this, Harrison had engraved a series of bookplates for Sir John Lavery, RA. One of these was a portrait by Lavery of his wife, Hazel, Lady Lavery. Harrison adapted this portrait for use on the banknotes. Lady Lavery is depicted in Irish national costume resting her arm on a Cláirseach (Irish Harp). Behind her in the background are lakes and mountains, typical of Ireland. The full portrait is used on the £10, £20, £50, and £100 denominations, with a head and shoulders cut-off on the lower denominations.
Thus, the notes are colloquially referred to as the Lady Lavery series.
Above is the Portrait of Lady Lavery as Kathleen Ni Houlihan, 1928, by Sir John Lavery (1856-1941), Oil on canvas 75.5 x 62.5 cm. The painting is on loan from the Central Bank of Ireland to the National Gallery in Dublin, and is on public display there.
The A Series note design circulated from 1928 to 1982, with the £100 note remaining in use until it was replaced by a new design C Series note in 1995.
There are several major design variations in the Lady Lavery Series
Type 1 to type 4 (19281942), issuing authority Currency Commission Ireland
Type 4 to Type 5 (19401944), ETO war code overprint security feature added to all denominations except £50 and £100.
Type 5 to Type 14 (19431977), issuing authority The Central Bank of Ireland
From Type 11 (1961) Sterling Promise removed from notes, although the Irish currency continued to be linked on a par basis to Sterling.
19281960 Sterling Promise in the bottom panel of every Lady Lavery banknote.
19611977 Sterling promise replaced by denomination in words.
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