An ultra-low numbered new £20 note sold for a whopping £7,500 at a behind closed doors auction this afternoon, far beyond its estimated price, This is Money can exclusively reveal.
The polymer £20 featuring artist JMW Turner was auctioned off at Spink on 8 April to raise money for three charities, alongside more than 200 other notes, some of which were also among the first to be printed.
The note, which has the serial number AA01 000010, was listed as having a guide price of between £3,000 and £4,000 by the 354-year-old auction house, but smashed that estimate, selling for 375 times its face value.
The ultra-low-numbered £20 note ending 10 was for sale at the auction and had a guide price of between £3,000 and £4,000
In fact, it had nearly doubled the estimate in pre-auction bidding, reaching £7,000 before the auction even began at 5pm.
The auction house told This is Money the pre-auction bidding was used to set starting prices for lots which went under the hammer.
When the catalogue for the auction was published to reveal the lots, we predicted the ultra-low numbered £20 would sell for as much as £10,000, based on the popularity of previous banknote auctions.
Spink and the Bank of England previously auctioned off low-numbered new £5 and £10 notes in 2016 and 2017. This year, because of coronavirus, it was behind closed doors.
Bank of England chief cashier Sarah John, who signs off every new note, was supposed to attend the auction but was unable to due to coronavirus.
The lowest-numbered £10, featuring Jane Austen – also ending 000010 – sold for an enormous £7,200, 2.4 times its estimate.
The note ending 000010 is likely the lowest numbered note which will be available for the general public to get their hands on, even if it is a premium price, with the first notes to be printed often given to prominent people.
The Queen was likely given note AA01 000001.
What have other notes sold for?
Notes AA01 000011 and AA01 000013 sold for £2,800 and £1,600 respectively at the auction or 140 and 80 times face value.
There was a bit of a bidding war on the note AA01 000020, which finished up selling for £3,200 – 160 times its face value.
Every Every note with a serial number in the twenties met or beat its upper estimate, with the note ending in 24 beating its £1,200 prediction and selling for £2,100, 105 times face value.
Ones to also keep an eye on include a £20 note ending in 88. It hit the upper end of its £2,000 to £2,500 estimate in pre-auction bidding, and ended up selling for £3,000 – the third-highest selling individual note of the auction so far.
Number eight is the luckiest number in Chinese culture and the auction house previously told This is Money that this note, and one ending 888 described as ‘auspicious’, ‘are very popular among our clients’ and ‘likely to be sold at a higher hammer price’.
Notes with the number 8 are deemed to be more valuable, likely because it is the luckiest Chinese number. This note ending 88 is predicted to sell for £700 more than the three next notes
Spink previously held a behind closed doors auction of gold and other historic coins in the last week of March, with collectors and investors paying tens of thousands of pounds for coins which sold for up to three times their guide price.
Gregory Edmund, a specialist at the auction house, told This is Money there was a reason why the sale did so well.
He said: ‘Collectors are bored. They are trapped at home, unable to get any mental stimulus other than depressing news stories from around the world, so they flocked to our online-only and industry-leading sale platform and merrily bid away because it gave them something to do.’
I’ve tried my luck at both auctions
‘The original £5 note auction came as both a gamble and untapped money making opportunity after the popularity of those polymer notes went wild,’ says Jesse McClure.
The star of television shows Storage Hunters and British Treasure, American Gold said he was intrigued by the auction. ‘I researched, I bid and it paid off handsomely.’
He paid £1,200 for a £5 note with serial number AA01 000020 and says he sold it shortly afterwards for a tidy profit.
Jesse McClure: Real fans of banknotes and world coins could take advantage of economic uncertainty
‘The second auction, for £10 notes, felt more like observing a ‘second-chance’ offering.
‘It felt like coming too late to the game, where everyone in the know was trying to buy-in, which in turn flooded the market, and over-payment in final bids turned into a majority loss for those looking to make a quick buck.
He added: ‘This time around with the £20 note auction? With so much uncertainty in the world right now, this may be the perfect time for ‘true collectors’ to get in on the action.
‘With the coronavirus still progressing and the economy going into a more than likely bear market, it may very well eliminate and keep home the quick-flip folks (such as myself) and allow real fans of banknotes and world coins to come in and find a unique item for their personal collections.’