Jane Austen £5 Notes “Worth £20,000” in Circulation

Graham Short micro-engraving of Jane Austen in five new polymer £5 notes could be worth £20,000 at auction (Image: InspiredImages; new polymer Bank of England £5 notes)

The price of sterling may have fallen in the wake of the Brexit vote, but at least four humble £5 notes have skyrocketed in value – to a staggering £20,000 each.

The four Bank of England £5 notes, which are each engraved with a tiny portrait of Pride and Prejudice author Jane Austen, entered circulation this week, reports the BBC. The first was spent on Monday in the market town of Kelso, in the Scottish Borders. The remaining three will be spent in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The 5mm Jane Austen portraits are the work of micro-engraver Graham Short, whose last work – a portrait of the Queen on the head of a pin – sold for a staggering £100,000.

The artist decided to create the images of Jane Austen to mark the 200th anniversary of the author’s death in July 2017. Each portrait is engraved on the transparent part of the new polymer Bank of England £5 and is surrounded by a different quote to ensure each note remains unique.

The Bank of England's new polymer £5 note features an image of former wartime prime minister Winston Churchill as well as Queen Elizabeth (Image: InspiredImages)

According to the BBC, the artist and Kelso gallery owner Tony Huggins-Haig decided to distribute the notes secretly instead of entering them into a global auction. Mr Huggins-Haig told BBC Scotland that the Kelso note entered circulation on Monday, though the shop it was spent at had no idea that they had just received the valuable item.

The gallery owner, who launched the project along with Graham Short, said the £5 notes could be worth over £20,000 each based on the artist’s previous sales. (Some news outlets are now quoting more than twice that figure.) He advised anyone finding the Kelso note to contact the Tony Huggins-Haig Gallery at their premises on 22 Bridge Street.

Keep Reading: Explore more unusual artworks and installations in our archives.



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