The new fiver

(Photo from Daily Echo)

By now, we all have seen the coveted new five pound note, once or twice no more. And if we count the people that have had one in their pockets the number diminishes. They are quite slippery to acquire. Obviously, they have only been out and about for a little more than a month, (from the 13th of September to be exact). But, what is the reason behind this transformation and step away from the traditional rag of a fiver?

The Bank of England argues that is mainly a matter of security and fighting against counterfeit. It also has to do with the “21,835 notes replaced in 2015 due to damage”. Therefore, the change of notes, printed in polymer, a cleaner and longer lasting material (lasting 2.5 times longer than actual paper notes), is primarily due to innovation and security issues. On the other hand, the project has cost around £70m in research and development, and each note costs 7.4p to produce! Twice more than the last ones. However, Mark Carney, Bank of England Governor, assures that this investment will “stand the test of time” as they are much more durable (The guardian).

Notes not only have economic value, but also cultural. Therefore, another reason is the possibility to change the characters in the notes. Featuring upon the 5 pounds notes is Winston Churchill, a man who “shaped British thought, innovation, leadership, values and society” (Bank of England). He is not the only ‘chosen one’. We will see Jane Austen on the 10 pounds notes by summer 2017, and JMW Turner on the 20 pounds note in a few years time.

Until this point it all seems very comprehensible, but the British public really wanted to put their durability to the test. After their release, there has been an unbelievable need to check their endurance. For instance, Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan tried to tear some of the notes apart on live TV (The telegraph) and it has been a good resource for Youtubers. Not kidding, the fiver seems indestructible: it doesn’t tear, its waterproof, only starts melting at 120ºC… definitely a tough nut to crack.

Finally, can you imagine selling a five pound note for 16,000 time its face value? Yes, it is actually happening. Gareth Wright of Twickenham sold the serial number AK47 note for the astonishing amount of £80,100 (The independent). There’s also a market for the lowest numbers, misprints, amusing serial numbers…Beware and look after your new notes and the ones to come. You may be holding a golden ticket!

By Gema Sancho-minana

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