Precious paper – the first and last £5 paper banknote…

Later this year, a brand new banknote will enter circulation, but this banknote will be unlike any other seen before… 

It wasn’t until 1793 that the first five pound note came into existence. The £5 denomination, known as the ‘white fiver’ lasted with relatively few changes until 1956 when it was last issued and replaced a year later with a new blue five pound note.

A 'white fiver' recovered from the depths of the sea following Operation Bernard

A ‘white fiver’ recovered from the depths of the sea following Operation Bernard

The banknote was changed primarily to combat forgery following ‘Operation Bernhard‘ – a huge German war effort which took place during the Second World War and saw around 9 million fake notes printed.

Of course, there have been numerous changes to the £5 banknote since then, from different designs, sizes, colourings and security features.

In 1970 a new series of notes were designed, each featuring an historical figure on the back. Portraits and highly detailed machine engraving blended into historical scenes making the new notes more difficult to copy.

The UK Harry Eccleston £5 Banknote.

The 1971 £5 Banknote. Designed by Harry Eccelston OBE, the Bank of England’s first full time Artist-Designer.

But perhaps the biggest change of all is yet to come…

On 13th September 2016 a brand new banknote will enter circulation featuring the portrait of much-loved Prime Minster, Sir Winston Churchill . However, this new fiver is unlike any we have ever seen before – it’s printed on polymer.

The New Sir Winston Churchill Polymer £5 Note © Bank of England [2015]

The New Sir Winston Churchill Polymer £5 Note © Bank of England [2015]

Polymer notes are made from a flexible plastic, which is resistant to dirt and moisture, which means they will last longer and are better for the environment.

The new note has a number of security features including a see-through window and foil Elizabeth Tower – which is gold on the front and silver on the back.  It also features multiple holograms and micro-lettering under the Queen’s portrait – which can only be viewed under a microscope.

You have until May 2017 to spend your current £5 notes, after that they will cease to be legal tender – but will still be exchangeable at the Bank of England.

What do you think about the new era of plastic banknotes? Let us know in the comments below.


white fiverYou can own Britain’s most famous banknote… in silver!

In a remarkable feat of craftmanship the White Fiver banknote has been re-isued in fine silver – and you can add one to your collection today.

Click here for more details

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26 Responses to Precious paper – the first and last £5 paper banknote…

  1. I think they have done a wonderful job with new £5 note, hope the £10 and £20 notes will be just as good, well done the Royal Mint

    • John Lee says:

      We have had them in Northern Ireland before. I’m just not sure why they stopped producing them?
      I just hope whatever the problem was,that it has been rectified!!!

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