Some of the rarest and most collectible banknotes held by NatWest are set to be auctioned off, with proceeds going to charity.
Hundreds of banknotes will go under the hammer with a face value of around £21,000, but leading collectible banknote auctioneer Spink estimates the auction could fetch over £400,000.
Some of the most collectible tickets are also the newest and are estimated at £1,800 each.
For example, a £50 polymer note never issued by the Royal Bank of Scotland bearing the serial number AA888888 and featuring Flora Stevenson and Randolph Crescent in Edinburgh has a maximum estimated value of £1,800.
An uncirculated Royal Bank of Scotland £50 polymer note with serial number AA888888 has a maximum estimated value of £1,800
Banknotes with low serial numbers are also desirable for collectors, and the majority of such banknotes are expected to increase by around ten times their face value.
Auctions will include notes from the Royal Bank of Scotland, Ulster Bank, the historic National Bank of Scotland and the Bank of England.
Some of the most historic notes date back over 100 years to the First World War and include a Bank of England 10 Shilling note from 1919.
The first of three auctions will be held on November 29, 2022 with proceeds going to the Trussell Trust, whose network of over 1,300 food bank centers support people across the UK who cannot afford to get the essentials.
Another sale will take place on December 16, 2022, with a new auction scheduled for January 19 next year.
All auctions will take place at Spink’s head office on Southampton Row in London.
A £100 note from the National Commercial Bank of Scotland, printed on September 16, 1959 with the serial number A011888, is estimated at £800-1,000 at auction.
What is the value of the tickets?
Although collecting banknotes may not be as popular as collecting stamps or coins, it still has a huge following all over the world.
Unique and rare banknotes are usually the most sought after. It can be a searched serial number, certain images or historical context.
Arnas Savickas, Head of Banknotes in Europe and the United States at Spink, says: “Expensive and collectible banknotes are usually expensive because they are rare and they have a certain historical heritage.
A Polymer Ulster Bank £10, printed on April 12, 2018 with serial number AA888888, is estimated at £650 to £850
“For example, banknotes from Palestine or banknotes from Zanzibar, or banknotes from Hijrah because Hijrah was invaded and is now Medina and almost all of its banknotes were destroyed. They are therefore extremely rare and that is why they are expensive.
The condition of the banknote is also important. Flawless uncirculated banknotes are generally worth more than their circulating counterparts, according to auctioneer Warwick & Warwick.
“Well centered banknotes” also tend to have higher value, due to their greater popularity with collectors.
Minor damage or defects will cause a drop in value. The greater the damage, the greater the loss.
Some ticket collectors also target specific styles or images. These can be animals or buildings and landmarks for example.
Savickas adds, “It could be a bank whose particular design features make it desirable.
“There may be a special feature or design of the banknote. For example, someone might want to collect all the sets of birds on banknotes they can get their hands on.
What is special about the NatWest auction?
What makes NatWest auction tickets rarer are the serial numbers, according to Savickas.
Most British banknotes have a standard six-digit serial number.
Some banknote collectors want to get their hands on banknotes with unique or attractive series.
“There are few serial numbers,” Savickas says, “It starts at four and goes to what we call solid numbers, which means all serial numbers are made up of one number. For example, there are eight digits of one.
“In this Tuesday auction, we also have four sheets. The leaves are specimen banknotes. Specimen notes are not legal tender.
“These are real banknotes, but they either have cancellations or serial numbers like zero and it’s very collectible because it’s very rare.
“For these RBS tickets being auctioned, specimens will only be available from these sheets. So if anyone wants a specimen, they will have to get this sheet.
An uncirculated polymeric £20 note from the Royal Bank of Scotland, printed on May 27, 2019, with serial number AA000008, showing Scottish entrepreneur Catherine ‘Kate’ Cranston. It is estimated between £500 and £700
Do your homework before collecting
Collecting banknotes is more of a hobby than an investment, so for anyone thinking of getting into it, it’s important to keep that in mind.
That said, like anything that has a finite supply, there is a chance that values will increase over time.
“I wouldn’t advise anyone to put all their money into collecting banknotes as a means of investing,” says Savickas, “just as I wouldn’t advise them to put all their savings into crypto.”
“But if I was just making a historical observation based on opinion, then yes, anything fixed in supply generally increases in value over time – at least in line with inflation.”
“Over the medium to long term, banknotes have remained fairly consistent with inflation.”
However, rather than focusing on the potential benefits, Savickas advises focusing on the enjoyment of this new hobby. But be sure to do your homework first.
“At the end of the day, do your research and don’t buy anything on impulse,” he adds.
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