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Eloy Perez

During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, those in Britain experienced change in all aspects of life, as a result of their own Industrial Revolution. Scientific advances and technological innovations brought growth in agricultural and industrial efficiency, economic expansion and altered living conditions, while at the same time there was a new sense of national identity full of pride often depicted through images on paper bank notes. Areas of rural background were impacted the most, pieces of provincial landscape often became the places of dense urbanized and industrialized commerce filled with British merchants offering their latest innovations in a merchant styled fashion or shipping their goods off to other countries or cities in hopes of aiding the growing economy brought about by the newly structured industrial revolution. In direct effect, wealth began to accumulate throughout Britain and its newly renovated industrial mentality, bringing about the rise of imagery through paper money and country banking.

The early mechanization of the textile industry and the establishment of new technologies, including Richard Arkwright’s water frame for the cotton spinning wheel, revolutionized production in the textile industry. More efficient ways of weaving cotton helped Manchester become the most important British centre of the cotton industry, boasting the nickname of “Cottonopolis” and the world’s first industrial city. Paper money issued around the country shows the importance of the textile industry throughout the entire country where each city or port would display their own story through images on their bank notes. Resulting from the increase of paper revenue and the use of banks, Britain’s metal industry developed into one of the most profitable in the country from the late 18th century onwards. Exported wares increased the flow of capital into British banks, and the iron, copper and steel industries played an important role in changes to the country’s infrastructure and in the expansion of transportation networks.

Being an island, Britain has always been dependent on its maritime trade. With the Industrial Revolution, shipping increased in importance as the distribution of products and the movement of people increased dramatically. Equally significant in the economic prosperity of the time was the Port of Bristol, an important commercial port and shipbuilding centre from its earliest days. Bristol profited greatly from the slave trade, and the shipping industry remained crucial to the city’s development throughout the 19th century. The coastal, foreign, and slave trades placed new demands on the shipping industry, and brought employment and substantial wealth to the coastal towns. Local bankers were often ship owners, and the imagery of maritime industry and trade that they used on paper money illustrates the significance of shipping, fishing and shipbuilding in the British economy. With the increase of capital and the need for credit, banking developed not only in London but also in the countryside. Industrialists, shipbuilders, merchants and other private manufacturers established provincial banks and issued paper money in the form of bills of exchange and notes, in order to provide a positive image accomplishing two things, primarily to tell their particularly story of industry as well as aiding the economy through the British Industrial Revolution.

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