The new £10 note featuring author Jane Austen has entered circulation.
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.
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.