The new ten pound note: Ten interesting facts about the new tenner

Apple isn’t the only one refreshing an iconic, pocket-sized object this week. Today the Bank of England puts the brand new £10 note into circulation. Like last year’s fiver, this new model is made from polymer, making it both harder to counterfeit and more likely to survive a spin in the washing machine.

The new ten pound note: Ten interesting facts about the new tenner

But don’t you want to dazzle the person behind you at the cash machine with some facts about the new tenner? Almost certainly not (and they’re likely even less keen), but here are some interesting talking points all the same.

The first ten pound note was issued in 1759


It was pretty basic: black and white, and printed on just the one side. Pretty basic, but a consequence of gold shortages from the seven years war. In other words: “don’t worry, it’ll never catch on”.

There are 801 million tenners in circulation

Fast forward to 2017, and there are 801 million tenners in circulation, in a total pool of 3.7 billion Bank of England banknotes.

Not all banks will get the new tenner right away

Although the new tenner is officially out today, not all cashpoints will get them at the same time – as a consequence of needing to get rid of their old paper notes before switching to polymer. As such, your best bet to get one is to head to a super busy cash point. Central London is a good place to start.

They still aren’t vegan-friendly

Like the polymer £5 note before it, the new tenner contains traces of tallow – a substance derived from animal fat.

The Bank of England did consider alternatives after a petition signed by 130,000 people asked them to look into alternatives, but they concluded that switching to palm oil would not “achieve value for money for taxpayers.”

But that means they last a lot longer than old tenners

The new polymer design for the tenner means that, like the new £5 note, it should have a longer shelf life than previous paper currency. Around two and a half times as long, to be precise.

The new ten pound note features Jane Austen


After Elizabeth Fry was removed from the £5 note to make way for Winston Churchill, a campaign was launched by Caroline Criado-Perez to put women back on the face of bank notes, attracting 35,945 signatures. The Bank of England eventually concluded that it was entirely reasonable for half the population to be represented, and Jane Austen duly found her way onto the new note. Also featuring on the note is Winchester Cathedral, where Austen was buried in 1817.

The picture of Austen on the note is based on a sketch of the author by her sister, Cassandra. Some are critical that it looks like she’s been given a makeover compared to the original sketch.

Bonus demi-fact: A module on Jane Austen fiction was the most oversubscribed at my University English Literature course, just ahead of Children’s Literature. Chaucer was a distinct last place, so don’t expect to see him on your currency any time soon.

The new tenner is worth £8.60 in pre-Brexit money

If the Bank of England has pushed out the new tenner in 2016 ahead of the historic EU referendum, it would be worth considerably more than it is today. The new tenner may be 15% smaller than the old one, but it turns out it’s also worth 16% less too.

…unless you get a really valuable one


There are exceptions. Just as some £5 notes with extremely low serial numbers went for thousands of pounds, there are valuable new tenners too.

Be on the lookout for notes with very low numbers, but think outside the box too. Some speculate that notes with numbers relating to Jane Austen’s life may well be in high demand. 16 121775 and 18 071817 may just sound like random digits, but as they match Austen’s date of birth and death respectively, a collector somewhere may well be interested.

You have until Spring 2018 to use your old £10 notes

The old £10 will continue to be accepted for the time being. The Bank of England hasn’t put a final date on the old tenner, but have said it will be removed from circulation in Spring 2018. The Bank has promised to give citizens at least three months’ notice, to give them a chance to get their spending spree in.

A £20 note will follow in 2020


That leaves £20 and £50 as the last paper notes standing – and the former doesn’t have that long left. A new polymer £20 note featuring JMW Turner will be issued in 2020 – just in time for use on a brand new Samsung Galaxy S11.

Let’s now spare a thought for the £10 notes passed.

There’s this one from 1963:1963_ps10_note

Then this one from 1975:1975_ps10_note

Moving into my lifetime, we have this snazzy little number from 1993:1993_ps10_note

…which then had a slight redesign in 2000:2000_ps10_note

Which would you most like to have crisply folded in your wallet? Vote now

Images: Bank of England

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