So in our last tour we took a picturesque stroll down Jamaica’s coin history between 1509 and 1962, the year of Jamaica’s independence.
Today we continue looking back at Jamaica’s money history with tours of the first types of bank notes to circulate the length and breadth of the country from 1837 to 1969.
Mid-19th Century: The First Bank Notes
The first bank notes in Jamaica were privately issued by commercial banks around the mid-19th century. The wider circulation of bank notes occurred with the opening of the Colonial Bank in May 1837. Its first bank notes were payable in British pounds, Spanish dollars and local currency.
Other banks that followed issued bank notes under their own names such as the Bank of Nova Scotia (BN), which opened its first branch in Jamaica in August 1889, a branch of the Royal Bank of Canada was opened in 1911, and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce opened a branch in 1920.
Introduction of the Shilling Bank Notes
It was not until 1904 and the passing of the Currency Notes Law that the Jamaican Government began attempts to regularise the bank notes in the country. This law resulted in the issuing of bank notes valued at 10 shillings each.
This also became necessary as the country was experiencing a scarcity of silver coins in the lower denominations.
This law was later revised in 1918, which resulted in new denominations being issued on March 15, 1920 in the form of a two shillings six pence bank note (2/6), and 5 shillings (5/) and 10 shillings (10/) bank notes, all bearing the portrait of King George V.
The 2/6 bank note, however, had a very short life and was withdrawn from circulation in 1922.
Introduction of the £1 and £5 Bank Notes
In 1940, following the passage of the Currency Notes Law of 1937, £1 and £5 notes began to be issued across the country.
Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) Bank Notes
With the passage of the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) Act in October 1960, the Bank now had the sole right to issue bank notes and coins in the country. BOJ bank notes were first issued on May 1, 1961 in 5/, 10/, £1 and £5 denominations, bearing the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and the signature of the first governor of the bank, Mr. Stanley W. Paton.
These bank notes were used until 1969 when Jamaica changed to a decimal system of currency, leading to the introduction of a completely Jamaican currency system.
Until next time…