Beautiful engraved Specimen Letter of Credit Certificates from the Commercial Bank of Scotland Limited
. This historic document was printed by Bradbury, Wilkinson and Company and has an
ornate border around it with a vignette of a group of allegorical people. (2 documents)
The Commercial Bank of Scotland merged with The National Bank of Scotland in 1959 and subsequently merged with The Royal Bank of Scotland in 1969.
The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc (LSE: RBS) is a banking and insurance holding company based in Edinburgh, Scotland.. It includes The Royal Bank of Scotland plc (Scottish Gaelic: Banca Rìoghail na h-Alba), founded in 1727 by a Royal Charter of King George I.
The RBS Group is the largest banking group in Scotland, the second largest in the UK and Europe, and the fifth largest in the world by market capitalisation. It is the 14th largest company in the world according to Forbes Global 2000 rankings. Its shares have a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange. The registered head office of the group and the clearing bank is located at St Andrew Square. In 2005, Queen Elizabeth II opened the bank's new head office building in Gogarburn, Edinburgh.
The RBS Group operates a wide variety of banking brands offering personal and business banking, private banking, insurance and corporate finance throughout its operations located in Europe, North America and Asia. In the UK and Ireland the main subsidiary companies are: the Royal Bank of Scotland plc; NatWest; Ulster Bank; and Coutts. In the United States it owns Citizens Financial Group, the 8th largest bank in the country. Insurance companies include Direct Line, Privilege, Churchill and Lombard Direct.
The Royal Bank of Scotland PLC also continues to print banknotes in Scotland; and is the only bank in the UK that continues to print a £1 note.
The bank traces its origin to the Equivalent Society which was set up by investors in the failed Company of Scotland to protect the compensation they received as part of the arrangements of the 1707 Acts of Union. The Equivalent Society became the Equivalent Company in 1724, and the new company wished to move into banking. The British government received the request favourably as the "Old Bank", the Bank of Scotland, was suspected of having Jacobite sympathies. Accordingly the "New Bank" was chartered in 1727 as the Royal Bank of Scotland, with Archibald Campbell, Lord Ilay appointed as its first governor.
In 1728, the Royal Bank of Scotland became the first bank in the world to offer an overdraft facility.
Competition between the Old and New Banks was fierce, and centred on the issue of banknotes. The policy of the Royal Bank was to either drive the Bank of Scotland out of business or to take it over on favourable terms.
The Royal Bank built up large holdings of the Bank of Scotland's notes, which it acquired in exchange for its own notes, and then suddenly presented them to the Bank of Scotland for payment. To pay for these notes the Bank of Scotland was forced to call in its loans and, in March 1728, to suspend payments. The suspension relieved the immediate pressure on the Bank of Scotland at the cost of substantial damage to its reputation, and gave the Royal Bank a clear space to expand its own business, although the Royal Bank's increased note issue also made it more vulnerable to the same tactics.
Despite talk of a merger with the Bank of Scotland, the Royal Bank did not possess the wherewithal to complete the deal. By September 1728 the Bank of Scotland was able to start redeeming its notes again, with interest, and in March 1729 it restarted lending. To prevent similar attacks in the future, the Bank of Scotland put an "option clause" on its notes, giving it the right to make the notes interest-bearing while delaying payment for six months; the Royal Bank followed suit. Both banks eventually decided that the policy they had followed was mutually self-destructive and a truce was arranged, but it still took until 1751 before the two banks agreed to accept each other's notes.
The bank opened its first branch office outside Edinburgh in 1783 when the first Glasgow branch opened. Further branches were opened in Dundee, Rothesay, Dalkeith, Greenock, Port Glasgow and Leith during the early 1800s. In 1821, the bank moved from its original head office in Edinburgh's Old Town to St Andrew Square in the New Town which remains the bank's registered head office to this day.
The rest of the 19th century saw the bank pursue mergers with other Scottish banks, mainly in a response to failing institutions. The assets and liabilities of the Western Bank were acquired following its collapse in 1857 and in 1864 the Dundee Banking Co. was acquired. By 1910, the bank had 158 branches and around 900 staff.
In 1969, the bank merged with the Commercial Bank of Scotland to become the largest clearing bank in Scotland.
The expansion of the British Empire in the latter half of the 19th century saw the emergence of London as the world's largest financial centre, attracting the Scottish banks to expand south into England. The first London branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland opened in 1874. However, the English banks moved to prevent further expansion by the Scottish banks in England, and after a government committee was set up to examine the matter, the Scottish banks decided to drop their expansion plans. An agreement was reached whereby English banks would not open branches in Scotland; and Scottish banks would not open branches in England outside of London. This agreement remained in place until the 1960s, although various cross border acquisitions were permitted.
The Royal Bank's English expansion plans were resurrected after World War I, when it acquired various small English banks, including London based Drummonds Bank in 1924; and William Deacon's Bank based in North West England in 1930; and Glyn, Mills and Co in 1939. The latter two were merged in 1970 to form Williams and Glyn's Bank; and later rebranded as the Royal Bank of Scotland in 1985.
During the late 1970s and early 1980s the Royal Bank was the subject of three separate takeover approaches. In 1979, Lloyds Bank, which had previously built up a 16.4% stake in the Bank, made a takeover approach for the remaining shares it did not own. The offer was rejected by the board of management on the basis it was detrimental to the Bank’s operations. However when the Standard Chartered Bank, proposed a merger with the Bank in 1980, the board of management responded favourably to the offer. Standard Chartered Bank was headquartered in London, although most of its operations were in the Far East, and the Royal Bank saw advantages in creating a truly international banking group. Approval was received from the Bank of England, and the two banks agreed a merger plan that would see the Standard Chartered acquire the Royal Bank and keep the UK operations based in Edinburgh. However the bid was scuppered by the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) which tabled a rival offer. The bid by HSBC was not backed by the Bank of England; and was subsequently rejected by the Royal Bank’s board of management. However the British government referred both bids to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission; and both were subsequently rejected as being against the public interest.
The Bank did obtain an international partnership with Banco Santander Central Hispano of Spain, each bank taking a 5% stake in the other. However this arrangement ended in 2005, when Banco Santander Central Hispano acquired UK bank, Abbey National – and both banks sold their respective shareholdings.
The first international office of the bank was opened in New York in 1960. Subsequent international banks were opened in Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston and Hong Kong. In 1988 the bank acquired Citizens Financial Group, a bank based in Rhode Island, United States. Since then, Citizens has acquired several other American banks, and in 2004 acquired Charter One Bank to become the 8th largest bank in the United States.
Outwith North America, the Royal Bank also opened offices in Europe and now has subsidiaries in: Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, Germany, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. In the Asia-Pacific region, the bank has offices in: Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore.
The late 1990s saw a new wave of consolidation in the financial services sector. In 1999, the Bank of Scotland launched a hostile takeover bid for English rival, the NatWest. The Bank of Scotland intended to fund the deal by selling off many of the NatWest’s subsidiary companies, including Ulster Bank and Coutts. However, the Royal Bank subsequently tabled a counter-offer, sparking off the largest hostile takeover battle in UK corporate history. A key differentiation from the Bank of Scotland’s bid was the Royal Bank’s plan to retain all of NatWest’s subsidiaries. Although NatWest, one of the "Big 4" English clearing banks, was significantly larger than both Scottish banks, it had a history of poor financial performance, and plans to merge with insurance company Legal & General were not well received, prompting a 26% fall in share price.
On February 11, 2000, the Royal Bank of Scotland was declared the winner in the takeover battle, becoming the second largest banking group in the UK after HSBC Holdings. The NatWest brand was retained, although many back office functions of the bank were merged with the Royal Bank's leading to over 18,000 job losses throughout the UK. 
A new international headquarters was built at Gogarburn on the outskirts of Edinburgh, and was opened by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in 2005. The St Andrew Square office still remains the official registered head office.
In August 2004, the bank expanded into China, acquiring a 10% stake in the Bank of China for £1.7 billion .
The bank was the 2005 recipient of the Wharton Infosys Business Transformation Award, an award given to enterprises and individuals who use information technology in a society-transforming way.
Specimen Certificates are actual certificates that have never been issued. They were usually kept by the printers in their permanent archives as their only example of a particular certificate. Sometimes you will see a hand stamp on the certificate that says "Do not remove from file".
Specimens were also used to show prospective clients different types of certificate designs that were available. Specimen certificates are usually much scarcer than issued certificates. In fact, many times they are the only way to get a certificate for a particular company because the issued certificates were redeemed and destroyed. In a few instances, Specimen certificates we made for a company but were never used because a different design was chosen by the company.
These certificates are normally stamped "Specimen" or they have small holes spelling the word specimen. Most of the time they don't have a serial number, or they have a serial number of 00000. This is an exciting sector of the hobby that grown in popularity over the past several years.