After months of background chatter, the new £10 note has finally been unveiled to the public. It’s all part of the Bank of England and Royal Mint’s efforts to update our bank notes that began with last year’s incredibly durable – and somewhat controversial – plastic fiver.
The new £10 features a portrait of literary heroine Jane Austen, and much like its forebear, will be made of the same polymer material. That means it’s more resistant than paper bank notes, and it’s more difficult to counterfeit.
So, with the official launch over, and the wait for circulation beginning, let’s look at everything we know about the note so far.
When will I see the new £10?
You won’t have to wait long before you start withdrawing the new £10 from cash machines. Just like the launch of last year’s fiver, the ‘Austen tenner’ enters circulation across the UK in September 2017.
Why is Austen on the £10?
Women have, historically, been under-represented in global currencies. One study by Swedish finance company, Advisa, suggested that 398 men feature on bank notes, compared to 52 women. This is part of a campaign to redress the balance, with Austen considered just such an iconic Briton.
Despite what some have claimed, Austen won’t be the first female on a UK bank note. Florence Nightingale once graced the ten-pound note between 1975 and 1992, while prison reformer Elizabeth Fry featured on the old £5. And, of course, as Head of State, the Queen has featured on them all.
Has it changed size?
Yes, the £10 is a different size now – bigger than the current £5, but smaller than the £10 it will replace. That means ATMs are now having to be updated to accept the new size.
Some people say this £10 is controversial – how come?
The Austen tenner has proved controversial for a number of reasons. For starters, some internet trolls disliked the idea of having a woman on a bank note and criticised feminists who spearheaded the campaign.
Another reason is that, like it’s five-pound counter-part, this new note will contain traces of tallow, or animal fat, which some claim is unethical. The Bank of England has stated that they’re currently looking at potential alternatives.
Then we get to Austen herself, whose face has apparently had a bit of a touch-up to make Miss Jane seem more cheerful than her original 1870 portrait. That didn’t make some Austen-holics happy.
And let’s not forget the quote inscribed on the note: ‘I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!’ This is a line spoken by one of Pride and Prejudice’s most hated characters, and was not a statement intended to be taken at face value.
I’m sick of new currency. Is this the last one?
You’ve had the new £1 coin, new fiver and now the Austen tenner – so you can relax for a bit. The next new bank note will be a redesigned £20, but that’s not due until 2020.
And for fans of the big, pink £50, you may be pleased to know that there’s no plans to release a new version, given the general rarity of them compared to fivers, tenners and twenties.
What else will be on the Austen £10 note?
It’s not just Austen’s stern expression staring out of you from this note. Look closely and you’ll also see Godmersham Park, where Austen’s brother lived, Jane Austen’s 12-sided writing table, and an image of Austen’s eternal heroine, Miss Elizabeth Bennet.
Beyond Austen, you’ll also see new anti-fraud features like the see-through window featuring the Queen, a 3D hologram of the crown, and Winchester Cathedral nestled in gold and silver foil.
Will it be worth anything?
Remember the mad rush for rare fivers that we saw last year? Expect that to kick off again as people scour their Austen tenners for low serial numbers (or just pop them on eBay on the off-chance it sells).