Banknotes: King Charles notes will have more than face value

It will be quite a moment for Britons when new designs of banknotes enter circulation summer next year. They will be the first UK currency to feature a new monarch — King Charles III — since 1960.

Members of the International Bank Note Society, arbiters of artistic excellence in folding stuff, may be less impressed. Heads of state change regularly across the world. And English currency is pretty staid compared with developing nation money replete with exotic birds and flowers.

The IBNS has the laudable goal of promoting and celebrating paper currencies. There is still plenty of this in circulation, despite the rise of digital payments.

In the running for the latest 2022 prize is the $50 note from Barbados. The world’s newest republic parted ways with the monarchy last year, though the Queen never featured on its money.

Scottish notes have garnered high acclaim from IBNS members, receiving the most nominations over the past two decades. The fact that three Scottish banks have the right to issue notes boosts the country’s chances.

Banknotes of the year – most nominations by issuer, 2004-2021 Winners by year

Face value matters little to banknote collectors compared with rarity. Collectors will seek the lowest serial numbers from the initial AA01 print run of the King Charles III notes. The most coveted and valuable first and second note of the run stay with the royal family. One each for the prime minister, the chancellor and the Bank of England governor and other highups will follow.

Lucky prospective collectors might snap up as low a serial number as 10 or 11 at the regular charity auction held by numismatic specialists Spink around the time of the note’s release.

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A little hustle is worthwhile. A rare number five note, donated by governor Andrew Bailey, from the BoE’s first run of new polymer £50 notes fetched £13,000 in 2021. That set a record for a new British release, according to its owner, Simon Narbeth, a banknote dealer.

To make real money, one needs to find the final notes featuring Queen Elizabeth II. The cipher and serial number, possibly as high as 999,999, both remain unknown. The rarest and most valuable of these will also be held back by the central bank for charity auction. The rest could prove easy money for any collectors who hunt them down.

The Lex team is interested in hearing more from readers. Please tell us what you think of the new currency in the comments section below.


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