Curiosities from the Vaults: A Bank Miscellany

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Sir John Soane's Secret Ballot Box

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Camel pack for carrying gold over deserts

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Dividend Day at the Bank of England by George Elgar Hicks

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The Bank of England Museum has been dipping into its vaults. The most romantic of the previously unseen treasures in a quirky exhibition drawn from its collections is a battered leather trunk, described in the museum’s 1936 ledger as a ‘camel pack for carrying gold over deserts’. The (possibly not entirely gospel) story goes that during World War I the trunk was lent to British desert adventurer TE Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia) for that very purpose. Other oddities in this exhibition to relaunch the museum after three months closure for renovation include elaborately decorated high-value banknotes signed by distinguished visitors to the bank including Nelson Mandela and the novelist George Eliot. Plus a secret ballot box designed by Sir John Soane (the Bank of England’s original architect) in the form of a miniature ancient Greek temple. And there we were assuming the vaults were crammed with boring old cash. 

 

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