On Sept. 9, during an official ceremony at Rideau Hall, the Bank of Canada unveiled and issued a $20 commemorative bank note honoring Queen Elizabeth II. The date marked the day on which Elizabeth II’s reign exceeded that of her great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria, making Queen Elizabeth II the longest-reigning sovereign in Canada’s modern era.
The commemorative bank note is a variation of the existing $20 polymer bank note that already features a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. It is identical to the current note with the distinction of it having a large window that “contains a range of special design elements, including a portrait of Her Majesty wearing a crown (tiara) for the first time on a Canadian bank note.”
The portrait is based on a 1951 image by renowned Canadian photographer Yousuf Karsh. It is the same photograph said to have inspired the portrait engraving of the queen, without the crown, for the 1954 Canadian Landscape series of bank notes and the 1967 commemorative note celebrating Confederation. Since her accession to the throne in 1952, an image of Queen Elizabeth II has appeared on every series of Canadian bank notes.
This is the third time the Bank of Canada has issued a commemorative note. The first, issued in 1935, celebrated the Silver Jubilee of King George V; and the second, issued in 1967, marked the centennial of Confederation. The bank has also announced that it will issue a commemorative note to mark Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017.
The Bank of Canada’s Chief of Currency, Richard Wall, unveiled the new $20 commemorative note, together with the Governor General of Canada, David Johnston.
“This is a unique milestone in the history of the monarchy in our country, and the Bank of Canada is honored to mark the occasion in this special way,” Wall said. “Over Her Majesty’s reign, the technology behind our bank notes has continually evolved—to the state-of-the-art polymer notes we have today. It is therefore fitting that we are commemorating this historic occasion by using one of the most advanced security features of our current notes—the large holographic window.”
The bank plans to issue 40 million of the commemorative notes. They were scheduled to start being available at financial institutions across Canada as of Sept. 10 and will circulate alongside of the existing $20, “which will continue to be issued and will comprise the vast majority of $20 notes in circulation.”
This article was originally printed in Bank Note Reporter.
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