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This blog is a behind the scenes look at the Roman Baths in Bath. We hope you enjoy reading our stories about life surrounding the Roman Baths.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Is Money the root of all Evill?

There are many different ways an object can end up in our collection at the Roman Baths, which means that we have a huge range of items, from enormous Roman stones to Haile Selassie’s golf clubs! This is because our museum’s collection policy includes objects that have relevance to Bath’s long and fascinating history, so when an important item surfaces we are sometimes able to acquire it.

Our latest acquisition is a perfect example. It’s a Bath Bank banknote from 1814, worth £5 at the time, and like many of our objects it has a story to tell. On the front of the note you can see the signature of a man called William Evill, and just above that is the name of his business; James Evill & Son. This was one of Georgian Bath’s most famous toy shops – but not as we might know them today.

The front of the banknote, showing Evill’s signature
These toy shops were full of fashionable commodities, luxury goods, and beautiful hand crafted souvenirs. To begin with, Evill’s store opened in the Marketplace around 1759 as a “cutler and hosier”, but this was only the tip of the iceberg! It went on to be the longest running toy shop in Bath, and Evill expanded the remit to include everything from gilt thimbles to pistols, handmade watches to surgeon’s instruments, all lavishly displayed on glass shelves in glass windows, sparkling and catching the eye of every passer-by.

The back of the banknote, with various handwritten notes
The banknote was originally issued in Evill’s name but it seems to have changed hands a number of times after that point. There are handwritten notes of different names and dates on the back, possibly reminding the bearer when or where it had come from. They’re a little hard to decipher, but my favourite is the writing halfway down the banknote when it was “taken of a gentleman”.

Can you distinguish any names or dates? We’re hoping to do some research and find out a little bit more about these individuals.

Collections Assistant

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