In Brief

Rare £10 notes: how to spot which ones are worth thousands?

Valuable notes contain rare serial numbers, such as ones with ‘1775’ - the year Jane Austen was born

Since the new £10 note was issued just over a year ago, multiple stories have emerged about rare serial numbers and limited editions fetching thousands of pounds at auctions, multiplying the notes' value tenfold and then some.

One of the new notes, which feature celebrated novelist Jane Austen and carry a quotation from her most celebrated novel Pride and Prejudice, sold for £3,600 on eBay in September 2017, exciting collectors with get-rich-quick dreams.

According to Wales Online, the reason for the swift increase in value was to do with the presence of a coincidental serial number that contained the AH prefix and 1775, the year Austen was born.

 ChangerChecker.com predicts that the following serial numbers could also be worth thousands:

  • The serial numbers 16 121775 and 18 071817 as they represent Austen's date of birth and death.
  • The serial number 17 751817 as it’s her birth and death combined
  • The serial number 28 011813 as it’s the date when her most celebrated novel, Pride and Prejudice, was first published.
  • The serial numbers JA01 and JA75 (Jane Austen’s birth year) and JA17 (the year of Jane Austen’s death) may be popular too, but it could take many years before those notes enter circulation.
Which ones will be most valuable?

As a general rule, the lower the serial number the more valuable the banknote.

Like the £5 note, which was released in 2016, the first tenner printed was given to the Queen, with the second given to Prince Philip, the third to Prime Minister Theresa May, and the fourth to Chancellor Philip Hammond.

Despite that, the first million £10 notes contain a prefix of AA01 and could all be worth £50, Simon Narbeth, a specialist paper money dealer told The Daily Telegraph.

How to spot special serial numbers

Serial numbers show when the note was printed, with the first note off the block starting with the prefix AA01 000001 and going up from there.

The serial number is printed on the same side of the note as Austen’s face and is two letters followed by eight numbers running from 000001 to 999000.

It is hard to say with certainty how much low serial numbers could fetch, but as a rough indicator the lowest number of the new £5 note issued to the public, AA01000017, sold for £4,105 at a charity auction last year.

Another note with the serial number AA01 000010 was auctioned off by the Bank of England earlier for a whopping £7,200.

“Interestingly,” says The Sun, “as the £10 note is slightly larger, there are 54 notes per printing sheet compared to 60 with the new £5 note.”

This means there are fewer AA combinations on £10 notes in circulation than on £5 notes.

Special connotations

There are exceptions to any rule and, in the case of collectable notes, quirky serial numbers that carry special connotations, such as 007 (James Bond) or AK47 (the machine gun) have added value.

Why Jane Austen?

The decision to put Jane Austen on the new ten pound note was the result of a four-year struggle by campaigners.

In 2013 there was a public outcry when it was announced that prison-reformer Elizabeth Fry, the only woman other than the Queen to feature on legal tender, was to be replaced on the new £5 note by Sir Winston Churchill.

One campaigner, Caroline Criado-Perez, threatened to take the Bank to court for discrimination. She was subjected to a wave of online abuse but eventually the Bank relented and agreed that the next figure to feature on the £10 note, replacing Charles Darwin, would be a woman.

In 2016, on the 200th anniversary of her death, Bank of England governor Mark Carney unveiled the new Jane Austen bank note.

However, while she told The Guardian it would feel “amazing” to finally hold the new £10 note, Craido-Perez admitted Austen was the bank’s choice, not hers.

Research from insurer Aviva has calculated that, due to the impact of inflation over time, ten pounds at the time of Jane Austen's death in 1817 would be worth the equivalent of £786 in today's money.

It is not the first time the Sense and Sensibility author has appeared on new notes. A tiny portrait of Austen was engraved on four fivers by artist Graham Short and spent in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Three have since been found - with a value estimated at £50,000 each, The Sun reports.

What special features does the new note have?

This is the second polymer note issued by the Bank of England following the introduction of the Churchill fiver.

It is 15% smaller than the old paper tenner and will last two-and-a-half times longer. It is also more secure, featuring hologram windows with images that change colour when tilted, to protect against fraud. A cluster of raised dots in the upper corner also helps blind and partially sighted people identify the note.

The new note is controversially still made from the same material as the polymer fiver, which drew criticism from animal rights and religious groups for containing traces of animal fat.

The Bank of England looked into ways to make its new notes tallow-free, “but decided the cost and effort was too high - and the practical alternatives not exactly popular either”, reportedly causing health and environmental concerns, says the Daily Mirror.

What about old £10 notes?

Old £10 notes featuring Darwin stopped being accepted as legal tender by retailers and businesses earlier this year.

But “genuine Bank of England banknotes which have been withdrawn from circulation will retain their face value ‘for all time’ and can be exchanged at the Bank of England”, says the London Evening Standard.

A new £20 note featuring artist JMW Turner is set to be released in 2020.

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