5 things you should know about the new £20 note

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Last month saw the launch of the latest new polymer banknote in the UK. The new £20 note was released in late February and becomes the third new banknote to enter circulation in the last four years.

Considering that the £20 note is the most common note in this country, the introduction of a new banknote is a big deal. So, here are five important facts you should know about the new £20 in your pocket.

1. Who is on it

Following in the footsteps of William Shakespeare, Michael Faraday and Edward Elgar, the £20 note featuring economist Adam Smith was the most recent paper note introduced, back in 2007.

Now, the new polymer note will feature the acclaimed English artist JMW Turner, alongside a blue and gold design which depicts the Margate lighthouse and Turner Contemporary gallery, also located in Margate, where the artist grew up.

Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, said: “Turner’s contribution to art extends well beyond his favourite stretch of shoreline.

“Turner’s painting was transformative, his influence spanned lifetimes, and his legacy endures today. The new £20 note celebrates Turner, his art and his legacy in all their radiant, colourful, evocative glory.”

2. Bring the note to life with Snapchat

The brand-new polymer £20 notes feature a self-portrait of Turner and one of his most celebrated paintings, The Fighting Temeraire.

However, in a first for a British banknote, these images can also be brought to life using augmented reality.

If you have a new £20 note and the Snapchat app, you can hover the camera in your smartphone over a Snapcode (like a QR code) on the banknote. By using Snapchat’s search function to find the £20 note lens, the paintings on the note will come to life.

The feature works by overlaying interactive images onto the banknote, in a similar way to how facial filters can be placed over a user’s face when using lenses in the Snapchat app.

“The launch of the new £20 will result in Turner’s paintings being amongst the most widely distributed artworks in the UK, maybe even the world,” said Ed Couchman, Snapchat’s UK general manager.

“We want to make sure that Snapchatters are encouraged to take note, look at the cash in their wallet and appreciate these great paintings. Hopefully, this partnership will help introduce a whole new generation to one of Britain’s greatest ever painters.”

3. Security features

As you would expect, the new £20 note has a range of security features which will help you to determine that your note is genuine:

  • The hologram – If you tilt the front of the note, the word on the hologram will change from ‘Twenty’ to ‘Pounds’
  • The window – If you look at the metallic image over the main window, the foil should be blue and gold on the front of the note and silver on the back. There is also a smaller window in the bottom corner of the note
  • The Queen’s portrait – You should see a portrait of the Queen on the window with ‘£20 Bank of England’ printed twice around the edge
  • Silver foil patch – A silver foil patch above the see-through window on the front of the note contains a 3D image of a crown
  • Purple foil patch – On the back of the note, directly behind the raised silver crown on the front of the note, you will find a round, purple foil patch containing the letter ‘T’
  • Raised print – On the front of the note, you can feel raised print on the words ‘Bank of England’ and in the bottom right corner, over the smaller window.
  • Ultraviolet number – Under a good-quality ultraviolet light, the number ’20’ appears in bright red and green on the front of the note, against a duller background.

4. Serial numbers that could make the note worth more than face value

In the past, new £5 and £10 notes have sold for big sums if the serial number is of particular interest.

As the first new £20 notes enter circulation, it can pay to take a close look at the serial number on your note as it could be worth more than its £20 face value.

Every banknote is printed with a unique number. When the new £5 and £10 notes were released, the earliest ones to be printed had serial codes that began with AA01 followed by an eight-digit number, starting at 00000001.

These notes can be worth more than their face value. This may especially be true in this case if the serial codes also contain something of interest to collectors – perhaps JMW Turner’s year of birth (001775) or year of death (001851).

5. What to do with old £20 notes

There is sometimes confusion when a new banknote is introduced, with many believing that the ‘old’ notes are immediately out of date.

However, the Bank of England is at pains to point out that the paper £20 notes remain legal tender.

You will still be able to use the paper £20 note until the Bank withdraws it from circulation. The Bank of England has confirmed that they will give six months’ notice of the withdrawal date of the existing £20 note.

Many banks will accept withdrawn notes as deposits from customers, while the Post Office may also accept withdrawn notes as a deposit into any bank account you can access at the Post Office. You can also exchange withdrawn notes with the Bank of England.

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