The new plastic Jane Austen tenner went into circulation on Thursday with shoppers urged to look out for certain serial numbers that could be worth far more than a tenner.
Existing cotton-paper £10 notes, featuring Charles Darwin and with a total face value of £8bn, will stop being legal tender from spring next year, although the Bank of England has not yet issued an official date for their withdrawal.
The polymer-based new note, which will continue to include traces of animal fat despite protests, comes into circulation exactly a year after the successful launch of the first plastic note, the £5 featuring Winston Churchill.
The paper £5 notes ceased to be legal tender on 5 May, although the Bank said that at the end of June there were still 127m in circulation, worth about £636m. If holders cannot exchange them at their local bank branch, the Bank will always exchange any old-series notes at face value.
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The Queen will be presented with the first new tenner – with serial number AA01 000001 – while Prince Philip is given the second and Theresa May the third. The general public must wait a little longer while Britain’s 48,000 cash machines are loaded with the notes, with only a handful of ATMs around the UK expected to be dispensing them on Thursday.
Collectors are on the hunt for very low serial numbers – those beginning AA01 – after the lowest number £5 note issued to the public, AA01000017, sold for £4,105 at a charity auction last year. Popular serial numbers for the new £10 note are expected to be the birthday of Jane Austen, 16 121775, and her death, 18 071817.
A line from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice – “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!” – will appear on the new notes, although the choice has sparked controversy. Critics say the words are said by a character with no interest in books at all, Caroline Bingley.
The notes mark the 200th anniversary of author Jane Austen’s death.
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The writer was buried in Winchester Cathedral in 1817 and completed many of her best-known works such as ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Emma’ in the nearby village of Chawton.
‘Ten pounds would have meant a lot to Jane Austen, about the same as 1,000 pounds would mean to us today,’ BoE Governor Mark Carney said at the launch of the new note in Winchester.
Austen received a 10 pound publisher’s advance for her first novel and the new banknote bears a quotation ‘I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!’ from her later work, ‘Pride and Prejudice’.