Fiver gets five-figure valuation

Rare 123-year old £5 note goes up for auction

The note, preserved in excellent condition, is expected to fetch up to £16,000. Image credit: Noonans
The note, preserved in excellent condition, is expected to fetch up to £16,000. Image credit: Noonans

An exceptionally rare £5 banknote, printed in 1900, is expected to fetch up to £16,000 when auctioned at Noonans’ auction house in Mayfair on 12 October.

Unusually, the note was issued in Leeds, and signed by Horace G. Bowen the Bank of England’s chief cashier from 1893 to 1902.

“This is a great note,” said Andrew Pattison, Noonans’ head of banknotes.

“Very few Bowen notes are in private hands, especially from this exceptionally rare Leeds branch.

"The York hand stamp shows part of the journey of the note, issued in Leeds and paid into a bank at some point in York.”

Before coming to its present owner, the note was sold by British businessman and collector, David Kirch, who at one point had assembled the UK’s largest collection of provincial banknotes.

Pattison added: “This is not the first Leeds note that Noonans has sold. An extremely rare £500 note dated 1936 was sold for a hammer price of £24,000 in March of this year.”

The £5 Leeds note will go up for sale alongside several other rare notes, including an 1862 £5 note, valued at £10,000£15,000 and a £50 note from 1845, valued at £15,000–£20,000.

A very early example of a £2 note will also be up for sale, dated to 1798, and is expected to fetch up to £16,000.

All four notes were printed at the Bank of England’s central london Threadneedle Street printworks, where all paper notes were printed from 1791 to 1917, when printing moved to the former Lunatic Hospital of St Luke’s in Old Street.

By 1920, the former hospital had been fully converted into a recognisably modern printworks, with concrete floors, three large machinery halls and amenities for staff.

The Bank now prints notes at its purpose-built site in Debden, Essex, where print operations have been handled since the 1950s. Its partner De La Rue operates the site under contract.