People in Northern Ireland are being urged to check their new fivers after engraved bank notes worth as much as £50,000 were circulated in a Willie Wonka-style ‘Golden Ticket’ giveaway.
Tiny portraits of Jane Austen have been added to four of the new £5 notes by talented micro-engraver Graham Short.
The 70-year-old painstakingly carved tiny 5mm portraits of the novelist onto the polymer cash, next to the images of Sir Winston Churchill and Big Ben.
Classic quotes from Emma, Pride and Prejudice, and Mansfield Park have also been engraved onto the Bank of England notes, which went into circulation last weekend.
The outline of the golden engraving is visible to the naked eye - but a microscope will be needed to see it properly.
Art experts are estimating that the four fivers could be worth up to £50,000 after collectors forked out thousands to buy notes with unusual serial numbers.
Graham previously hit headlines when he engraved the words of the Lord’s Prayer on to the head of a pin.
And his last work - a portrait of the Queen, engraved on a speck of gold inside the eye of a needle - sold for £100,000.
Graham, from Northfield, Birmingham, said: “I’m always looking to do something different.
“When I saw the new £5 note, I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be good if I could engrave something on it.
“I didn’t know what at first, but then I found out that next year is going to be the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death and her image is also going to be on the new £10 note, which is coming out next year, so it ties in quite nicely with that.
“The beauty of this is that in the right light you can’t see the engraving at all, but when you turn the note and the light comes at a different angle, it appears.
“I’ve no idea how much they will be worth if people try to sell them. But previous pieces I have worked on have been insured for more than £50,000.
“If somebody finds one I hope they will maybe put it on eBay. If they can get some extra money for Christmas I’ll be thrilled.”
The four notes will all be distributed across areas of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland by Thursday (8/12).
One fiver has already been used at a cafe in Scotland while another is destined for a pub in Northern Ireland.
Graham said he may spend the other two in either Warwickshire or Gloucestershire today (Wed) before he puts the final one into circulation in south Wales.
He added: “I’ll probably just buy a coffee somewhere and hopefully it will find its way to somebody.
“We just wanted to spread them as far as possible and give people across the UK the chance of getting hold of one.”
A fifth engraved note will be donated to the Jane Austen Society to mark the 200th anniversary of the classic novelists death next year.
Quotes and their notes
“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.”
- Emma - Serial number: AM32 885551
“To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love.”
- Pride and Prejudice - Serial number: AM32 885552
“A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of.”
- Mansfield Park - Serial number: AM32 885553
“I hope I never ridicule what is wise or good.”
Pride and Prejudice - Serial number: AM32 885554