13 September saw the launch of the new five pound note – it’s the first in a series of new bank notes to be rolled out by the Bank of England. It's the start of what has been called the biggest cash revolution since decimalisation took place in 1971, as our beloved paper notes give way to polymer ones.
Though many of us might bemoan the change and ask why this is happening, Australia has been using polymer notes for two decades. Speak to an Aussie and they’ll lay claim to them being cleaner, waterproof and almost impossible to rip, which means they last longer.
The new fiver is 15% smaller than the old one, and is a lot more difficult to counterfeit. It has numerous details that make it harder to copy. Here are five ways to spot a legitimate note.
• There’s an intricate image of Big Ben made of foil in the middle of the clear window on the note. It appears gold on the main face and silver on the opposite side. Big Ben is showing three o’clock – the time of Churchill’s 1940’s House of Commons speech.
• The number ‘5’ on the front of the note glows when placed under ultraviolet light.
• A luminous green foil circular emblem reads ‘BLENHEIM’, referring to the palace where Sir Winston Churchill was born.
• The Queen’s crown appears in 3D silver foil.
• A foil patch underneath the clear window changes from ‘five to ‘pounds’ when tilted in your hand.
You can read more about how to spot a fake £5 note here.
Use up your old fivers
Before you get excited about that new fiver in your pocket, be sure to start spending your old ones, as you only have until May 2017 before they go out of distribution. After then, you will need to exchange the paper £5 notes at the Bank of England in person or using the free post service.
Do you have a winner in your hands?
Some of the new fivers could be nice little earners. That’s because some of the first notes printed are already desirable collectable items. With around 440 million new fivers making their way from the vaults into cash machines and your pockets, you could strike lucky by getting one desired by collectors.
Could you have be lucky enough to have a special fiver? These are the details to look for.
1. If your note was one of the first off the press, it will begin with the serial number AA01.
2. If you have several notes and their serial numbers are in sequence (like that of a flush in a poker game) e.g. 01, 02, 03, you could be on to a winner. Check online to see what they’re being sold for, as some are said to be fetching in the region of £161 up to £227 on eBay.
More new plastic notes are on the way
If you aren’t lucky enough to have a collectable note this time round, don’t worry. The Bank of England is introducing a new £1 coin, (March 2017) and more plastic notes. Over the next four years, we will see a new £10 note featuring author Jane Austen and a £20 note featuring enigmatic landscape artist JMW Turner. So love them or hate them, it’s still worth keeping a look out for those collectable fivers.
You can read more about the new faces on British banknotes here.