Monday, February 27, 2012

Leeds gets its very own banknotes

The Guardian
Monday 27 February 2012 11.20 EST

Leeds gets its very own banknotes as alternative money summit meets.
Conference issues five and three Ludo notes, printed with pictures of local notables and monuments.

Valid for food and drink - and plump-cheeked Matthew Murray looks as though he's had his share of both. Design: Tom Morgan

Here's joyful news for all children of Leeds: we are about to get our very own banknotes.

Not for long admittedly, but on Wednesday at the city's noble Corn Exchange you will be able to use the pink 3 Ludo and blue 5 Ludo notes within a closed economy at a conference on the future of money.

Tired of the long-standing pound versus euro debate, the organisers of TEDxLeeds, a homely Leodiensian version of global blue-sky thinking conferences in California on 'Ideas worth spreading', have printed a stack of Ludos. The work of local freelance web designer Tom Morgan, they were named by Emma Bearman of the city's excellent CultureVulture blog.

She explains:

The name was chosen to imply both playfulness and the city's ancient name of Leodis.

While Morgan says:

The designs both celebrate Leeds' past and hint at its imagined future

The big pink man on the 3 Ludo is Matthew Murray, an engineer on a level with James Watt who was commercially out-manoeuvred by the latter. One of the great mysteries of my life is why my great-grandfather Richard, an exuberant entrepreneur who claimed to have invented a smokeless chimney, commissioned the statue of Watt which stands in City Square.

I am saving up to get one of Murray, just a tad bigger, to overshadow the Scot. But meanwhile, who's the big blue baby on the 5 Ludo? He or she represents the future of Leeds.

You will be able to use the dosh to buy food and drink at the TEDx do, provided, it has to be added, that you pay the £15 conference fee. But there may genuinely be a wider future for the currency, which has many historical predecessors (and why they were abandoned may be a good question to ask at the conference); and some modern ones, including the Lewes and Brixton Pounds.

Here's the 5 Ludo, with its slightly alarming babe. Design: Tom Morgan

Like these, and the Local Excchange Trading Systems network, or Denis MacShane's famous Euro Day in Rotherham, the Ludo-ites are working on various outlets and institutions in Leeds to agree to take the money longer term.

Imran Ali, one of the evening's hosts and founder of TEDx's LSx offshoot says:

This is a really exciting opportunity to give the people of Leeds - and especially those working in the financial sector - a chance to hear from some of the leading thinkers and innovators on the subject of money.

Leeds has 30 national and international banks; 150 accountancy firms including nine of the top ten largest UK practices; ten stockbroking firms; three of the UK's eight largest building societies; and is home to Britain's first telephone banking operation and the only Bank of England note issuing centre outside London.

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