How can a pounds 1 note be worth over pounds 50,000?

Twenty years of inflation should have taught us that keeping old notes and coins is a mug's game. But really old money can be worth more than its equivalent in gold. A Bank of England pounds l note sold at auction in 1993 for pounds 57,200. Amittedly this was no ordinary example, for dated 2 March 1797 and bearing the serial number `2', it is the second note of the denomination ever issued by the Bank.

On April 24 Spink will be offering another Bank of England rarity at auction - a pounds l,000 note. It surprises many people to learn that the Bank issued pounds l,000 notes from the eighteenth century to the early 1940s.

Given that even in the 1930s, pounds l,000 would comfortably buy a couple of houses in Greater London, they were treated with care. According to the Bank's records, 63 examples apparently remain at large, although most of these would have perished in the bombing raids of the Second World War.

The example which will be offered by Spink on Wednesday (pictured above) is a specimen dated 7 September 1922. Specimen notes were issued by the Bank to other central banks to assist identification. Over the years, revolutions and a less meticulous attitude to currency in certain countries has resulted in some getting into private hands. However, large denomination specimens are of the highest rarity. Spink is anticipating its example will realise pounds 20,000-pounds 25,000.

A banknote is not "just money". It can take up to a year to engrave a single plate which is used to print just one side of a note. Just look at the intricate design of any currency note. There are watermarks, elaborate designs and an incredibly subtle use of colour. These are all techniques used to deter the forger. A banknote is where art and technology meet and the result is a miniature work of art.

Banknotes have certainly been an expanding field of collectabilia in recent years. There are two quite distinct markets. Serious collectors are prepared to pay thousands of pounds for just a single note, while there are others who get just as much pleasure simply spending a few pence. It is possible to purchase a pack of 100 uncirculated world notes for pounds 29.

Barnaby Faull, who heads Spink's banknote department, believes the market is now buoyant because banknotes escaped the investment buying of the 1970s and 1980s. Certainly both the coin and stamp markets suffered from an influx of speculators who were buying solely for investment reasons.

They learnt to their cost that when sellers outnumber buyers, prices fall dramatically. Whereas many historic coins may be purchased today for the same prices at which they were selling in the mid-1970s, the market for banknotes has risen in recent years.

The price for Hong Kong banknotes bearing low serial numbers has risen the most dramatically. For example, a Government of Hong Kong $1 which had been sold by a dealer in the late 1970s for pounds 70 found a buyer at Sotheby's in 1993 for pounds 28,600. The attraction of the piece was the serial number - A00001. However, Simon Narbeth of the specialist paper money dealers Colin Narbeth & Son, avoids all notes from the Far East on the basis that the market for the material is not collector-dominated.

There is a strong collectors' demand for English and Welsh provincial banknotes. From about 1780, over 900 different banks operating outside London have issued their own notes. Alphabetically from Ashby-de-la-Zouch to York, local paper money supplemented the nation's coinage to oil the wheels of commerce. Many of these banks failed, while the survivors merged to form the high street banks we know today.

From 1844, their note issuing was strictly controlled and banks which merged were obliged to refrain from printing their own money. The last privately printed banknote was issued in 1920 by Fox, Fowler of Wellington, the year before it merged with Lloyds.

Visually, these provincial notes can be most appealing, with vignettes of rural scenes, allegorical figures, famous local buildings, or simply a shield of arms. They are an integral part of local history with the early ones being signed by the partners who owned the bank. Today, the notes generally sell for pounds 100-pounds 200 each, but rare items can change hands for over pounds 1,000.

For those with an interest in historical events, a note issued during the French Revolution may appeal - a 1795 example can be secured for around pounds 6. A note hand-signed by General Gordon during the siege of Khartoum is a little more expensive, but can be purchased from around pounds 180, whereas a note issued during the siege of Mafeking under the authority of Baden Powell retails at around pounds 50-pounds 100.

Should banknote collecting appeal to you, whatever you buy, treat your acquisitions as an interest and not as an investment. Regard any increases in value as an added bonus rather than a goal in itself.

For a complimentary copy of Coin News, which incorporates Banknote News (cover price pounds 2) and a free banknote, send 50p in stamps to cover postage, together with your name and address to: The Independent Readers' Offer,Token Publishing, PO Box 20, Axminster, Devon EX13 7YT

The Spink sale of Banknotes takes place on 24 April at 10am. For further details telephone 0171-930 7888.

For a complimentary list of paper money for sale, contact: Colin Narbeth & Son. Tel: 0171-379 6975.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Danish director Lars von Trier
tvEnglish-language series with 'huge' international cast set for 2016
Life and Style
tech
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Money is slipping through our fingers: the UK is falling behind other countries in the amount we put away

How to save money: UK is crashing down the European league table for putting money away

The UK has slipped to 11th in the latest European league table of savers. Rob Griffin checks out the best options

Energy firms found guilty of bad practice could have licences revoked under Labour government

Caroline Flint, the shadow energy secretary, says a Labour government would create a new energy regulator

A student's guide to financial survival: You don't have to drown in debt at university

Fresh from A-level delight, the moment does not have to be soured by students resigning themselves to thousands of pounds worth of debt in three years' time. Rob Griffin sees how to pass the university challenge

'Dismal' eurozone data sparks concerns

European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi is under pressure to launch promised stimulus before the EU slides further
Love but not marriage: property is one area where cohabiting couples are in danger of losing out

How couples can protect their financial interests when cohabiting

People who simply live together cannot assume they have the same rights to each other's assets as spouses or civil partners. Michelle McGagh sees how they can protect their financial interests

India could be jewel in the crown for investors

With a new government and an ambitious prime minister, the country offers the prospect of strong returns. But there may be hiccups ahead, warns Simon Read

Child Maintenance Service to replace Child Support Agency - but is it better?

Reforms to the vexed question of child support payments by absent parents mean extra charges for both sides. Neasa Macerlean reports

Barclays's new life insurance heralds a revolution on the high street

The new product marks a shift towards 'clear, straightforward and standardised' banking products, says Simon Read

How to protect your assets if the stock markets begin to head south again

Are you worried about your portfolio? Nick Paler asks fund managers and investment insiders for advice
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    HR Generalist (standalone) - Tunbridge Wells - £32,000

    £30000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Generalist (standalone) - Tunbrid...

    Derivatives Risk Commodities Business Analyst /Market Risk

    £600 - £800 per day: Harrington Starr: Derivatives Risk Commodities Business A...

    Power & Gas Business Analyst / Subject Matter Expert - Contract

    £600 - £800 per day: Harrington Starr: Power & Gas Business Analyst/Subject Ma...

    Infrastructure Lead, (Trading, VCE, Converged, Hyper V)

    £600 - £900 per day: Harrington Starr: Infrastructure Lead, (Trading infrastru...

    Day In a Page

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering