Monday, October 30, 2006

Adam Smith to grace the £20 note

Mervyn King announced yesterday in Kirkcaldy (Adam Smith's birthplace) that Adam Smith was to grace the £20 banknote from next spring. Adam Smith is of course the legendary Scotsman who invented capitalism. He'll be the first Scotsman to be on an English banknote and the first economist. His image is already on the £50 Clydesdale banknote.

According to the Herald, The image will be based on James Tassie's portrait of Smith in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, accompanied by a scene of pin manufacturing. (see the image top left)

One of Smith's most famous observations in the Wealth of Nations was that, on his own, a man might make a single pin in a day, but by dividing the labour into specialist stages, a small team could produce thousands

Mervyn King also caused a little controversy (among SNP people at least) by saying, "Next year we celebrate the tercentenary of the Act of Union, an act strongly supported by Adam Smith "And we now have a successful and prosperous union between our two countries with a common monetary institution which embodies the ideas not only of Adam Smith and his great friend David Hume, but also the key principles that should govern institutional design."

I'm not sure why it was controversial to say it - next year is the 300th anniversary of the Union between Scotland and England, and Adam Smith did support the union, and his image is going to be on the banknotes to commemorate the event, so why pretend otherwise? As well as a message to Scottish Nationalists, it's also a timely reminder to English people of what Scotland, and Scottish ideas have contributed to the UK.

The only other famous person to have come out of Kirkcaldy is of course Gordon Brown, who also went to the same school as Adam Smith (Kirkcaldy High), though it was a state school when Brown attended.


Anonymous said...

Here's the new banknote:

Anonymous said...

Of course Adam Smith was a proponent of Land Value Taxation (he probably invented it, to be honest) as the fairest and least distortionary of all taxes.

Political Umpire said...

Scottish nationalists are a remarkably touchy lot. I look forward to being burned at the stake next time I'm north of the border. Give it ten years and there'll be full independence from the UK (and full dependence on the EU ... )

Incidentally Snowflake I put a comment on your old post about the veil, after reading this from someone I've been particularly rude about on my own blog, Mary Anne Sieghart of the Times:,,1071-2432347,00.html

I don't often agree with M-A, but credit where it's due.