A £5 banknote with serial number A01 000003 that was originally presented to Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, in 1957 sold for £27,280 against an estimate of £18,000-22,000 at Dix Noonan Webb
in their auction of British, Irish and World Banknotes today (Thursday, May 27, 2021) at their Mayfair saleroom (16 Bolton Street, London W1J 8BQ). This is the first time that a serial number three note, for a new design, has ever been offered on the open market. The Bank of England £5 note was housed in a blue leather presentation wallet dated 21 February 1957, and showed Britannia at left, Saint George slaying the dragon at low centre, reverse blue, lion and key at centre. It was bought by an anonymous buyer [lot 198].
As Thomasina Smith, Head of Numismatics (Associate Director) at Dix Noonan Webb, explained: This important note is the lowest serial number note available to commerce and arguably the finest post-war Bank of England note in the public domain. Serial numbers one and two are held in the Royal Collection, having been presented to The Queen and the late Duke of Edinburgh.
The subsequent lot in this auction the first Bank of England £5 to include a portrait of the Queen, housed in a blue leather presentation wallet, dated from 21 February 1963 and also has serial number A01 000003 sold for £16,120 against an estimate of £12,000-16,000. This note was presented to Harold Macmillan, shortly before the premature end of his second term as Prime Minister in 1963. It was also bought by an anonymous buyer [lot 199].
Elsewhere in the sale was a strong selection of Irish Banknotes including an absolutely spectacular example of an extremely rare note £100 note from the Irish Free State, dated 10 September 1928, which sold for £14,880 to a Collector in Ireland [lot 341], while a £50 note from the same date sold for £9,920, also to a Collector in Ireland [lot 340]. As Andrew Pattison, Head of Department, Banknotes, Dix Noonan Webb, explained: These two notes are some of the first issued by the independent Ireland in 1928, and are also the first to feature the iconic image of Lady Lavery leaning on harp. There are now thought to be less than ten of each of these denominations still in existence from this early date.
Among the Scottish notes was an attractive unissued £12 Scots/20 Shillings, dating from circa 1772 from Bannockburn, which sold to a long time collector of Scottish banknotes, for £2,976 against an estimate of £1,800-£2,200. As Andrew Pattison, commented: This note, printed for issue in Bannockburn in around 1772, showed the huge disparity in the values of the English and Scottish pound at the time, with one pound sterling being worth 12 pound Scots! [lot 415].
Elsewhere a group of Scottish banknotes with errors was offered the errors ranged from misprints to extra paper flaps to crumples. Included were two examples from the Clydesdale Bank Limited. A £1 from 1979 with the serial number incorrectly located sold for £347 to a buyer in the Far East [lot 382], while a £5 from 1981 with mismatched serial numbers realised £298 and was bought by buyer in the Far East [lot 383]. Andrew Pattison explained: All Scottish errors are very unusual, partly because of good quality control, and party because of quite small print runs. This group represented more Scottish errors than I have seen in total, in the last decade of doing this job.
Among the English notes from the David Muscott Collection of Northern County Provincial Banknotes was a fine £5 from the York City & County Banking Company Limited, Leyburn Bank dating from 26 April 1899, with a beautiful vignette of York Minster at top centre that sold for £1,984 against an estimate of £700-900. It was bought by an avid collector of banknotes printed by Waterlow & Sons, one of the finest security printers in British history [lot 96] while from Peases Old Bank in Hull, an extremely rare early example of a high denomination - a £10 dating from 23 January 1772 sold to a local collector for £1,240 against an estimate of £800-1,000 [lot 81].
As Andrew Pattison explains: This beautiful note, issued in Leyburn in 1899, is one of the latest dates possible for an English provincial banknote. It featured a stunning vignette of York Minster in the upper centre, while the £10 note was issued in Hull in 1772 is one of the earliest dated notes in the sale. It was a huge sum of money at the time, and in todays money, was the equivalent of having a £1,500 note in your pocket!