Saturday, September 19, 2015

Scots printer forged his way into history by adding his signature to 50 million bank notes after carving it onto printing plate

APPRENTICE WH Egan subtly forged his name on the vignette used to make £1 notes for the Royal Bank of Scotland - and the indiscretion only came to light 34 years later.

A CHEEKY Scots printer had his name signed on more than 50 million bank notes after carving it onto the master printing plate.

Apprentice WH Egan subtly forged his name on the vignette used to make £1 notes for the Royal Bank of Scotland.

He worked for Edinburgh printers W&AK Johnston, who produced paper notes for RBS.

Between 1956 and 1967, the firm issued in excess of 50 million of the notes - which had Egan’s signature hidden in cobblestones in front of an image of the Bank of Glasgow building.

He was given the job of re-drawing the worn-out metal printing plate for the £1 note that was first issued in 1927.

His name is only visible by turning the note upside down, and peering closely at it using a magnifying glass.

The indiscretion only came to light in 1989 - 34 years later - when Egan walked into a branch and confessed.

The notes are described as ‘curiosity items’ but are not very valuable as so many of them were printed off between 1956 to 1967.

Two of them will be going on display to the public next month at the World Paper Money Fair, which is being held in London.

The Fair is being organised by the International Bank Note Society.

Society director, Jonathan Callaway said: “You can’t see his name very easily - you would have to know it was there - and nobody realised what he had done.

“He must have thought that somebody would spot his personal addition before the printing process but, maybe to his horror, it got through the quality control process.

“I suppose by that stage he felt he had no choice but to keep quiet and hope nobody would realise.

“The company would have had to re-engrave the plate again which would have been a fairly expensive business and he probably would have been sacked.

“At least 50 million of the notes with his name on were printed and distributed around Scotland and England.

“Quite why he chose to admit to it so many years later, I don’t know. Maybe it was something he wanted to get off his chest before he died.”

More Edinburgh news

Egan had emigrated to America, and was back in Scotland to visit his family who still live in Edinburgh, when he confessed.

After being granted an audience with an RBS Chief Cashier, Egan pointed out his indiscretion - which hadn’t been spotted before he coughed up.

Family members have since joked the printing incident wasn’t why he emigrated to America before settling in Canada.

The first of the notes with Egan’s signature was printed on February 1, 1956, and had serial numbers beginning with ‘AJ’. The last one has the number ‘CX’ and is dated Novemner 1, 1967.

The World Paper Money Fair is being held on October 2-3.

Courtesy David Taylor, Daily Record, 17 September 2015

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