Saturday 31 December 2016

£5 Note In Card Turns Out To Be Gift Worth £50,000


A £5 worth 10,000 times its face value has been found in a Christmas card.

The note, one of just four Bank of England engraved with a portrait of Jane Austen barely visible to the naked eye, turned up in the Borders.

But its new owner, who wants to remain anonymous, is not rushing off to cash in.

They have decided to keep the note, frame it and hang it on their wall as a work of art. But he or she will need a microscope to view the image clearly.

The note arrived in a Christmas card from a relative in the same area, who thought they were including an ordinary £5.

The four £5 notes were put into circulation by the Tony Huggins-Haig Gallery in Kelso with the help of specialist micro-engraver Graham Short creating the mini artworks.

The note, discovered on Thursday, is the second of the four Bank of England notes to be found after one was handed over in change from a cafe in south Wales earlier this month. Each is worth about £50,000.

Two more special £5 notes, spent in England and Northern Ireland, remain in general circulation and their serial numbers are AM32 885552 and AM32 885554.

Mr Huggins-Haig said the latest finder, who works in education, had been to the gallery to have the note verified.

He said: “They are completely delighted to have it and it’s getting framed and going on the wall.

“They were given it in a card by a relative and they are delighted as well because they didn’t know that’s what they were putting in the card – they knew it was a £5 but not one that could be worth £50,000.

“Of the two that have been found, both are with people who want to keep them as art. They’ve both been found by wonderful people who are very deserving.

“We have let the £5 notes go out there and it’s been brilliantly received by people.”

He said the project has generated worldwide interest and he has been contacted by Russian, Chinese and Indian television companies.

Mr Huggins-Haig spent one of the notes in Granny Jean’s bakery in Kelso on December 5 to start the project, sparking a huge surge in custom when he revealed the move days later. Head baker Alan Malone said he was “gutted” to have inadvertently given it away in change.

Mr Short’s last piece of art, a portrait of the Queen engraved on a speck of gold inside the eye of a needle, sold for £100,000. The artist previously engraved the words of the Lord’s Prayer on to the head of a pin.

The 70-year-old has been engraving for almost all of his life.

He has to work at night to avoid traffic rumbles that can affect his work and monitors his heartbeat and breathing to avoid anything that would shake his hand as he engraves.

Mr Short, speaking previously, said: “In the right light you can’t see the engraving at all, but when you turn the note and the light comes at a different angle, it appears. I like to call it invisible engraving.”

He has insured previous similar works for £50,000.

The latest project was inspired by the golden tickets inside Wonka bars in Roald’s Dahl’s classic children’s novel Charlie And The Chocolate Factory.

Full-sized images of Jane Austen will appear on Bank of England’s £10 notes next year, the 200th anniversary of the writer’s death.

Mr Short’s engraved notes are of the plastic kind due to replace all English £5 bills by May.



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