Barbershop banknote: Did Sir John A. Macdonald get a $10 haircut? – Politics

Hair today, gone tomorrow?

Focus groups hired to vet the final design of the Bank of Canada’s newest $10 banknote raised a surprising concern: Sir John A. Macdonald’s unruly hair.

It seems a stray lock of the first prime minister’s hair was touching the head of his neighbour, in images on the prototype bill to commemorate Canada’s 150th birthday.

“Hair on the right side of Sir John A. Macdonald’s face touching Sir George-Étienne Cartier’s ear,” warns the official report from the private preview of the banknote.

Cartier’s image also had an annoying hair problem.

“Eyebrows with one hair in particular sticking up,” says the focus-group report by Pollara Strategic Insights on the design of the new plastic banknote, which begins circulating June 1.

The Bank of Canada won’t say what it did, but Sir John A.’s unruly lock of hair and Sir George-Etienne Cartier’s eyebrows, highlighted in the above image, have been tamed in the final version of the $10 commemorative banknote. (Bank of Canada/CBC illustration)

Bank officials declined to say exactly what they did to resolve those problems.

But images of the approved commemorative $10 note, released this month, show Sir John A.’s hair a respectful distance from the ear of Cartier, whose eyebrows have no observable rogue hairs.

‘Valuable feedback’

Can we call it the Barbershop Banknote?

“Focus group participants provided valuable feedback on many aspects of the preliminary design concepts, and where appropriate the bank considered their input in further developing the design of the Canada 150 note,” said Bank of Canada spokesperson Josianne Menard.

She declined to say whether these two Fathers of Confederation had been given a trim.

The Pollara focus groups — five cities, 94 participants — were conducted last August as part of the bank’s efforts to avoid a repeat of a previous hairy-banknote disaster.

In 1954, the central bank introduced a new series of banknotes featuring an engraving of the newly coronated Queen Elizabeth II. But wags soon spotted a problem with the royal hair.

The Queen’s flowing locks appeared to contain the image of a grinning demon, and the notes were soon dubbed the “Devil’s Head” or “Devil’s Face” currency.

The 1954 run of Canadian banknotes had to be modified to address what some saw as a smiling devil’s face in the Queen’s hair. (Bank of Canada/Flickr)

Embarrassed central bank officials had the image re-engraved to purge the demon, and re-issued the notes in 1956. Those original “Devil’s Head” banknotes, in pristine condition, can be worth a lot of money today.

A closer look at the Queen’s hair reveals patterns that some saw as the eyes, nose, mouth and horns of a smiling devil. (Bank of Canada/Flickr)

The central bank has had other banknote gaffes over the years.

In 2013, officials learned they had misidentified a mountain that appeared on its new plastic $10 notes.

The bank called it Mount Edith Cavell, but a sharp-eyed Toronto…

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