The new £10 note featuring author Jane Austen will enter circulation on Thursday.
It is the second currency in England to be printed on polymer plastic, a material that will last 2.5 times longer than paper, following the launch of a new five pound note last year.
Austen will replace Charles Darwin on the £10, joining Adam Smith, Winston Churchill and Boulton and Watt in a cast of historic figures that the Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney, said helps currency “serve as a collective memory for a country”.
The Queen will be presented with the first new tenner – with serial number AA01 000001. Prince Philip will be given the second and Theresa May the third.
Collectors will be on the hunt for very low serial numbers – those beginning AA01. The lowest number of the new £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.
Image: The new note includes several new security features such as holograms and colour-changing panels
Austen’s inclusion was met with bemusement when it was unveiled in June, thanks to the author’s quotation: “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!”
It is not a direct Austen quote but a line from Pride and Prejudice uttered by Miss Caroline Bingley – and one the character doesn’t believe in the slightest.
Wealthy, shallow and conceited, Miss Bingley follows her praise of reading with a huge yawn. “When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library,” she adds, before throwing her book aside in a fit of boredom.
Austen’s point is that Miss Bingley’s love for reading is a pretence – one enabled by her large fortune and driven by her desire to impress eligible and wealthy bachelor Mr Darcy.
That makes its inclusion on a bank note somewhat ironic. In June, some even called for the quotation to be changed.
Other critics accused the designers of “prettifying” Austen or objected to the use of a pork-derived substance in the polymer material.
The objections, however, haven’t prompted a change to the design.
The new bank note includes security features – including holograms windows with images that change colour when tilted – to protect against fraud.
A cluster of raised dots in the upper corner will also help blind and partially sighted people identify the note.
While it will be in circulation from Thursday, the old £10 won’t disappear until Spring 2018. Until then, it won’t be a problem to continue using the old paper notes while the Bank of England gradually removes them.
New Scottish £10 notes are also being released over the next four weeks. Polymer Scottish £5 notes were released in 2015, and Northern Ireland has used polymer notes since 2000.