Plastic Notes Now Going Mainstream

Although they have been around for several years in Scotland and Northern Ireland, the late arrival of Bank of England polymer banknotes has finally pushed this new technology into mainstream consciousness.

The release of the first wave of Bank of England fivers saw the usual rush to be the first to own one and prices for those from the first batch, with an AA01 serial number, rapidly climbed to several hundred pounds.

It is the same phenomenon seen when the Clydesdale Bank released its polymer fivers two years ago.

At that time I was able to walk into a branch, withdraw £500 in crisp new consecutive fivers and pick up a large handful of leaflets explaining the security features seen on this new style of banknote. Then I was able to offer consecutive pairs of uncirculated notes, with an accompanying leaflet, to buyers around the world for £40 per set, rapidly falling to £20 before the market price slipped to £15 within the week as most collectors had already been able to get their hands on an example for their collections.

The same thing happened this week when the media reported prices for the Bank of England’s AA01 notes had been sold on eBay for more than £400 each. Soon Facebook groups were filled with eager sellers keen to sell their notes for a similar sum, only to be disappointed when they discovered what demand there had been had vanished.

However, as this story from the BBC shows , not all initial valuations are destined to decline over time. This tells the story of an extremely limited Bank of Scotland release (just 50 notes!) and an example sold at Spinks in London this week for £18,500.

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