(NYTIMES) — LONDON — Though paper money here typically bears the visage of Queen Elizabeth, the Brixton district of the city last month released a new 5-pound note designed by Jeremy Deller, an artist who won the prestigious Turner Prize in 2004. It features a fuzzy, psychedelic image of an androgynous face surrounded by rainbow clouds and coruscating, swirling etchings.
“I wanted something old-fashioned looking,” Mr. Deller said. “Something almost pre-currency.”
One hundred and twenty miles west of Brixton, in the city of Bristol, a pound note issued after a design competition that was open to locals displays a colorful lemur striding atop a vibrant cityscape. The back has magenta-hued, hand-cut stencil illustrations of accomplished denizens, including the author J. K. Rowling and Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States.
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As Bitcoin, PayPal and other electronic forms of payment grow in popularity in the global economy, cash in a growing number of places — not only Bristol and Brixton, but also Amsterdam; Ithaca, N.Y.; and elsewhere — is becoming quite literally an artisanal object.