Everything you need to know about Polymer Banknote Serial Numbers

The new King Charles III banknotes entered circulation on 5th June 2024, and whilst the reverse designs remain unchanged, this is the first time we’ve ever seen a King feature on UK banknotes – as they were introduced well into Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.

King Charles III £10 banknotes
The new King Charles III banknotes will enter circulation on 5th June 2024
Image credit: Bank of England

It’s not that long ago, however since we last saw a major change in our banknotes, with the introduction of the first polymer banknotes in 2016. The polymer notes were issued to replace paper banknotes with a cleaner, safer and stronger alternative, and by 2022, all banknote denominations had been replaced with a new polymer version and the older paper notes were withdrawn from circulation.

£5, £10, £20 and £50 Polymer Banknotes
£5, £10, £20 and £50 Polymer Banknotes
Image Credit: Bank of England

The new polymer notes caused quite a stir, with collectors rushing to secure the notes with the lowest serial number. But what happened to the very first notes of each denomination?

£5 Polymer Banknotes

Whilst collectors were on the hunt for polymer £5 banknotes with low serial numbers when they first entered circulation in 2016, the very first ones never actually made it into circulation.

The Bank of England always hold back some of the notes with the earliest serial numbers, donating them to people or institutions that were involved in the development of the note, or who traditionally receive a note when a new series is issued.

Serial number Recipient 
AA01 000001 – Her Majesty The Queen 
AA01 000002 – Prince Phillip 
AA01 000003 – Prime Minister 
AA01 000004 – Chancellor of the Exchequer 
AA01 000005 – The Governor (for the Bank) 
AA01 000006 – Deputy Governor (responsible for Notes) 
AA01 000007 – The Chief Cashier 
AA01 000008 – Bank of England Museum 
AA01 000009 – British Museum 
AA01 000010 – Churchill family 
AA01 000011 – Permanent Secretary of the Treasury 
AA01 000012 – Chair of the Bank’s Court 
AA01 000013 – Chris Salmon (former Chief Cashier) 
AA01 000014 – De La Rue 
AA01 000015 – Innovia 
AA01 000016 – Royal Mint 
AA01 001704 – Blenheim Palace 
AA01 001874 – Lord King (former Governor) 
AA01 001910 – The Home Secretary 
AA01 001924 – The Chair of the Treasury Select Committee 
AA01 001929 – George Osborne (former Chancellor of the Exchequer) 
AA01 001940 – The Governor 
AA01 001941 – The US Ambassador to the UK 
AA01 001942 – The Foreign Secretary 
AA01 001945 – Churchill War Rooms 
AA01 001951 – David Cameron (former Prime Minister) 
AA01 001960 – Churchill Archive, Churchill College Cambridge 
AA01 001965 – Chartwell 
AA01 002016 – Andrew Bailey (former Chief Cashier) 

Polymer £5 banknote
Image Credit: Bank of England

The Bank of England also conducted an auction of low serial numbered £5 notes on 3 October 2016, which raised £194,500 to be split between three charities – The Myotubular Trust, The Lily Foundation and Bliss. 

The lowest polymer £5 note with the serial number AA01 000017 sold for £4,150!

It’s also worth looking out for banknotes with serial numbers that could be considered collectable, such as AK47 due to the machine gun connotations, and 007 which could be desirable to James Bond fans.

£10 Polymer Banknotes

The UK’s first polymer £10 note, featuring Jane Austen on the reverse, entered circulation on 14th September 2017, and, similarly to the £5 note, the first ones printed were donated.

In October 2017 some of the first Jane Austen Polymer £10 notes were auctioned and raised a staggering £260,900 for charities Candelighters, Haven House Children’s Hospice and Macmillan Cancer support.

The £10 note with the lowest serial number AA01 000010 sold for an incredible £7,200.

The polymer £10 note with the serial number AA01 000010 sold for a staggering £7,200

Other notes that fetched hefty sums were AA01 000011 and AA01 000014, selling for £5,200 and £3,500 respectively.

£20 Polymer Banknotes

Issued in 2020, the £20 was the third polymer banknote denomination to enter circulation.

Did you know? The letters at the beginning of a banknote’s serial number indicate its position on the sheet on which it’s printed. The 6 numbers that follow the letters refer to the number on the sheet the note is printed on.

With the £20 note being larger than the £5 and £10 notes, less notes were printed per sheet, however there were still an incredible 59,940,000 notes with an serial number starting AA!

Polymer £20 Banknote sheet
Polymer £20 Banknote sheet
Image Credit: Bank of England

As the polymer £20 note featured JMW Turner on the reverse, some serial numbers matching key dates relating to the painter the became highly collectible.

For example, 23 041775 represents Turner’s date of birth, whilst 19 121851 relates to his death and 17 751851 would be his birth and death combined.

True Turner fans might also look for 18 381839 representing the date he painted ‘The Fighting Temeraire’ (which featured on the new £20 note) and the date the painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy respectively.

£50 Polymer Banknotes

On the day that would have been Alan Turing’s 109th birthday (23rd June 2021), The Bank of England issued their final banknote in the polymer series, celebrating the famous scientist and mathematician.

The Polymer £50 note features famous scientist and mathematician, Alan Turing
Image Credit: Bank of England

As is tradition, Queen Elizabeth II received the very first polymer £50 note printed with the serial number AA01 000001, however AA01 000010 was donated to the Turing family in honour of Alan Turing featuring on the reverse of the £50 note.

Again, certain serial numbers matching key dates relating to Alan Turing became collectable, such as 23 061912 which represents Turing’s date of birth, 07 061954 which relates to his death and 09 071941 which represents the date that the enigma code was cracked by Turing and his team at Bletchley Park during WW2.

Safely store your banknote collection

With the release of these new banknotes, now’s the perfect time to start your banknote collection, by owning the Change Checker Polymer Banknote Collecting Pack – with space to securely house all four of England’s polymer banknotes!

Secure yours for just £9.99 (+p&p) >>

UK 50p commemorates the 80th Anniversary of D-Day

2024 marks 80 years since the day that turned the tide of the Second World War, and in commemoration, a UK 50p has been released to honour the D-Day landings.

2024 UK D-Day 50p
2024 UK D-Day 50p

Add the 2024 UK Day-Day 50p to your collection >>

A momentous day

On 6th June 1944, 156,000 Allied troops arrived in Normandy by land, sea and air to launch their assault on Nazi-occupied France. Codenamed Operation Neptune but commonly referred to as D-Day, it was the largest seaborne invasion in history.

Normandy Landings
Image Credit: SHAEF [Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces] Public Relations Division., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

With this year marking the 80th anniversary of D-Day, these events will soon move beyond living memory, so it’s now more important than ever to commemorate this incredibly poignant day in history.

“We shall fight on the beaches”

The design of the 2024 D-Day 50p, created by renowned sculptor David Lawrence in collaboration with Imperial War Museums, depicts brave Allied troops risking their lives on that fateful day. In the foreground, soldiers disembark a landing craft onto the beaches whilst planes fly overhead approaching by air.

Reverse of 2024 UK D-Day 50p
Reverse of 2024 UK D-Day 50p

The landings took place at five assault beaches along a 50 mile stretch of the Normandy coast, they were given the codenames Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword – all of which are inscribed along the bottom of the design.

The codenames of the 5 assault beaches feature along the bottom of the design

Recreated in sand

To celebrate the unveiling of the 2024 UK D-Day 50p, the coin’s design was recreated in the sand on Gold beach in Normandy. The sand art measured 35 metres across and took more than 5 hours to create!

The sand sculpture was created on ‘Gold’ beach
Image credit: The Royal Mint

French sand artist Jehan-Benjamin Tarain worked with fellow artist Sam Dougados to create the piece. Tarain said that is was ‘extremely special’ to be part of a project that “plays an important reminder of the united allied effort between French and British forces 80 years ago”.

Previous UK D-Day coins

This isn’t the first time that D-Day has been commemorated on a UK coin…

Most recently, the 2019 D-Day £2 coin was issued to mark 75 years since the landings. It featured a design by renowned Royal Mint engraver, Stephen Taylor, showing 5 arrows, each pointing across the English Channel to one of the Normandy beaches. Although this coin didn’t enter circulation, it was extremely popular with collectors.

2019 D-Day £2

A £2 coin that did enter circulation is the 2005 60th Anniversary of the end of World War Two £2, which was issued to mark 60 years since Winston Churchill announced VE Day – marking the end of World War Two. The reverse design features a depiction of St Paul’s Cathedral which survived the Blitz to become a great symbol of hope to a war-torn nation. The edge inscription reads – IN VICTORY: MAGNANIMITY, IN PEACE: GOODWILL – part of the famous maxim that prefaces Churchill’s history of the Second World War.

2005 60th Anniversary of the end of Word War Two £2
2005 60th Anniversary of the end of Word War Two £2

The 1994 D-Day 50p was issued to mark the 50th anniversary of the Normandy Landings. This coin was originally issued in the larger 50p specification, meaning you’re no longer able to find it in your change. It was later re-issued in 2019 in the smaller 50p specification, however this version didn’t enter circulation.

1994 D-Day 50p larger specification and 2019 re-issue
1994 D-Day 50p larger specification and 2019 re-issue

Interestingly, the 1994 D-Day 50p was voted the all time favourite 50p coin by Change Checkers, so I’m sure the 2024 D-Day 50p will prove just as popular with collectors.

Secure the 2024 UK D-Day 50p

As this will likely be the last milestone anniversary of D-Day to be observed by those who served, it’s hugely important to commemorate this moment in history.

Add the 2024 UK D-Day 50p to your collection for just £5.99 (+p&p) >>

Just how rare are your coins? Your latest Scarcity Index Update!

It’s time for your latest Scarcity Index update – your chance to discover the UK’s most sought-after circulation 10p, 50p, and £2 coins of the last three months!

Our Scarcity Index uses data from the Change Checker Swap Centre to determine just how scarce and sought-after your coins are. The information is presented in the easy-to-use indexes below, with arrows to signify how many places up or down a coin has moved since the last Scarcity Index update.

50p Scarcity Index

50p Scarcity Index
50p Scarcity Index

The top and bottom of the 50p index has remained fairly stable, with the Kew Gardens 50p remaining in the top spot, but despite this, there have been some big changes in this latest update…

Moving up the ranks are some of the Olympic 50ps, including Shooting, Cycling and Boccia which have all climbed significantly. These big jumps up mean that others have to shuffle down the index, and we can see that a fair few 50ps have moved down just 1 or 2 places.

Also making their way down the index are the 50 Years of Pride 50p, the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 50p and the Battle of Britain 50p.
Interestingly, we came across all 3 of these coins in our latest 50p coin hunt, watch it here >>

If you’re new to collecting and want to find out more about circulation coins, you can check out our fact files here >>

Otherwise, keep reading to find out which 10ps and £2 coins you should be looking out for.

10p Scarcity Index

A-Z 10p Scarcity Index
A-Z 10p Scarcity Index

The A-Z 10ps seem to be some of the hardest commemorative coins to find in circulation, not surprising when you consider a maximum of JUST 304,000 of each A-Z 10p design entered circulation across 2018 and 2019.

It’s thought that a large percentage of these 10ps have been snapped up by collectors, leaving a limited amount still in circulation, but it is still possible to find them!

One to keep your eye on is the NHS 10p which has shot up 20 places to 5th place, and the Houses of Parliament 10p which has climbed 12 places.

A few less fortunate coins are the King Arthur 10p which has fallen 10 places and the Ice Cream 10p which has dropped 8 places. The X Marks the Spot 10p remains at the bottom of the index, but it’s worth remembering that this Index only ranks the 10ps against each other, so even the ones at the bottom of the list are still incredibly sought-after.

£2 Scarcity Index

We usually see less movement on the £2 index due to the fact that less coins have entered circulation in recent years, however this time, there have been some big movers.

The £2 index usually remains fairly stable as we’ve not had a £2 coin enter circulation since 2016, however this time we have seen a fair bit of movement!

Of course, remaining at the top of the Index is the 2002 Commonwealth Games Northern Ireland £2. With a mintage figure of just 458,000, it’s one of the rarest and clearly still one of the most popular £2 coin designs, even 22 years after entering circulation!

The Guinea £2 climbed an impressive 19 places and the Brunel Portrait £2 moved up 9 places.

Some other big movers are the Wireless Transmission £2 and the Florence Nightingale £2 which have both fallen by 10 places and the Steam Locomotive £2 which has dropped 14 places.

How your Scarcity Index works

Generally, collectors have relied on mintage figures to identify the scarcest coins.  But they only tell part of the story.  

Trying to find a good quality coin from 15 – 20 years ago, even for a higher mintage issue, is much more challenging than a more recent issue, as coins become damaged over time and are ultimately removed from circulation.

What’s more, some designs are more hoarded than others by people who might not normally collect coins – for example the First World War £2 Coin series.

Finally, it can be up to a couple of years before the Royal Mint eventually confirms the actual mintage for an issue.

That’s why we have combined the mintage information with two other key pieces of information:

  • How many of each design are listed as “collected” by Change Checkers, indicating the relative ease of finding a particular coin
  • The number of times a design has been requested as a swap over the previous 3 months, showing the current level of collector demand

Importantly, as new coins are released and popularity rises and falls across different designs, the Scarcity Index will be updated quarterly. This allows Change Checkers to track the relative performance of the UK’s circulation coins.

How much are my coins worth?

The Scarcity Index doesn’t necessarily equate to value, but it is certainly a good indicator. For example, the Kew Gardens 50p coin commands a premium of up to 200 times face value on eBay and is unsurprisingly top of the 50p Index.

You can use our 6 point guide to help you determine a more realistic value for your coins.

What about £1 Coins?

The £1 Scarcity Index has already been published for the Round £1 coins. Because they are no longer being issued, this is now set in stone.

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