Whether you love them or hate them, it’s fair to say that when the Bank of England issued the very first polymer banknotes, UK currency was revolutionised. As well as refreshing the designs of the notes, these polymer versions were considered a cleaner, safer and stronger alternative.

In 2016 it was the £5 that received the first makeover, and Winston Churchill was selected to feature on the note. Jane Austen soon followed on the £10 note and now, as chosen by the British public, renowned artist JMW Turner graces the new £20 polymer note.

But it’s not only the design that makes this note special. You see, the Bank of England have described this note as the most secure banknote yet. So, I’m of course curious to see what special security features have been worked into the design of our newest banknote…

Britain’s most secure banknote

Before the revolutionary polymer £20 came along, there were over 2 billion £20 paper notes in circulation. The sheer volume of them made the £20 note Britain’s most used, and consequently most forged, banknote.

So it’s understandable that the need to make it difficult to counterfeit was at the forefront of the designer’s mind! The result? A whole host of special features that make it harder to forge and stand out from other notes in circulation.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the security features incorporated into the design:

polymer 20 specimen front 1 1 - The secrets hidden in Britain’s most secure banknote yet
Front of 2020 polymer £20 note. Credit: Bank of England
  • Transparent windows – the foil in the large see-through window is blue and gold on the front, and silver on the back. Plus, there’s a second, smaller window in the bottom corner.
  • Changing holograms – the hologram beneath the large clear pane will alternate between reading ‘Twenty’ and ‘Pounds’ depending on what way you tilt the note.
  • The Queen’s portrait in the transparent window – the Queen’s portrait is printed on the window with ‘£20 Bank of England’ printed twice around the edge.
  • Foil patches – a silver foil patch contains a 3D image of the coronation crown. There is a second purple foil patch which contains the letter ‘T’.
  • Ultra-violet technology – under UV light, the number ’20’ appears in bright red and green on the front of the note, against a duller background.
  • Raised dots – you’ll find three clusters of raised dots in the top left hand corner. This tactile feature helps blind and partially sighted people identify the value of the note.

JMW Turner design

When choosing the design for the £20 note, the Bank of England were spoilt for choice. They received over 29,000 nominations submitted by the general public. And the choice to select JMW Turner makes him the first British artist to ever feature on a UK banknote.

polymer 20 specimen back 1 1 - The secrets hidden in Britain’s most secure banknote yet
Back of 2020 polymer £20 note. Credit: Bank of England

The note itself features Turner’s 1799 self-portrait, which is currently housed in the Tate Modern in London. And behind this you’ll notice one of his most recognisable works – The Fighting Temeraire. This famous painting is a tribute to the ship that played a pivotal role in in Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

The final nod to Turner in the design comes from the quote “light is therefore colour”, alongside the signature taken from his will. The quote is taken from a lecture Turner gave in 1818 and is a reference to his innovative use of light, shade, colour and tone.

What do you think about the new £20 Polymer note? Let us know in the comments!


If you’re interested…

dn datestamp 20 polymer banknote product images 3 300x208 - The secrets hidden in Britain’s most secure banknote yet

If you’re looking for a way to own this significant, revolutionary piece of British currency, then look no further than the UK 2020 £20 Polymer Banknote DateStamp™ issue. Each DateStamp™ issue has been postmarked by Royal Mail with the note’s first day of release – 20th February 2020 – forever ensuring its provenance.

First issues are always valued by collectors and by owning the DateStamp™ issue you will be one of just 2,500 collectors able to forever mark the date the new £20 polymer banknote entered circulation. We have a limited number available, so click here to find out more >>

Each year, The Royal Mint marks important British anniversaries, events or accomplishments on our coins and today I’m delighted to reveal the UK’s new coin designs for 2020.

What’s more, you have the opportunity today to secure them in a variety of different presentations or specifications – I’m sure there is something for everyone.

Simply read on to discover how you can be one of the first UK collectors to add these coins to your collection… 

FIVE new UK commemorative coins

Blog Image 1 cropped if it works better - FIRST LOOK! Brand new UK commemorative coins released for 2020

The Royal Mint has just announced the five new commemorative coins for 2020, issued to mark a variety of occasions and landmark anniversaries that we’ll see over the coming year:

  • King George III £5 – marking the 200th anniversary of the end of King George III’s reign
  • VE Day £2 – commemorating the 75th anniversary of VE day, signalling the end of WWII
  • Agatha Christie £2 – celebrating “100 years of Mystery”, the centenary of her debut mystery novel
  • Mayflower £2 – marking the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s maiden voyage to The New World
  • Team GB 50p – a tribute to Team GB ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games due to be held in Tokyo

UK 2020 Annual Coin Set BU Pack

Blog image 2 - FIRST LOOK! Brand new UK commemorative coins released for 2020

To give as many collectors as possible the chance to own these highly sought-after coins, The Royal Mint has issued them in Brilliant Uncirculated quality, which is coveted by collectors as it means each coin is free from any marks you would find on circulated coins.

In this BU Pack you’ll find the five brand new commemorative coins alongside the eight definitive coins from the 1p to the £2, all newly dated for 2020.

Each one is protectively encapsulated in its attractive original Royal Mint packaging to preserve its quality for generations to come. What’s more, you can secure this BU Pack at the Royal Mint issue price of just £55 (+p&p). Click here to find out more >>

This set of coins is also available as a CERTIFIED BU Commemorative Coin Set for £40 (+p&p). Click here to find out more >>

UK 2020 Annual Collector Proof Coin Set

Blog image 3 - FIRST LOOK! Brand new UK commemorative coins released for 2020

Whilst being struck from base metal, the coins in this set have been struck to a stunning superior Proof finish. This set also includes the five new commemorative coins alongside the eight definitive coins from the 1p to the £2, all newly dated for 2020.

Just 7,000 sets have been released worldwide in this limited edition presentation – that’s under half the edition limit of previous issues that have completely sold out. So, it’s expected this set will be extremely sought-after.

You can order the UK 2020 Annual Collector Proof Coin Set here with a down payment of just £31 (+p&p) followed by 4 further interest-free instalments – that’s the Royal Mint issue price. Click here to find out more >>

UK 2020 DateStamp™ Specimen Set

Blog Image 4 option 1 - FIRST LOOK! Brand new UK commemorative coins released for 2020

The most limited way to own the five new 2020 commemorative coins is by securing the UK 2020 DateStamp™ Specimen Set. In fact, JUST 995 collectors worldwide can own this unique set.

What truly sets the 2020 Specimen Year Set apart from all other 2020 Annual Sets is the fact that it is forever set in time by the official Royal Mail postmark that marks the coins’ first day of release – 1st January 2020.

Each coin is struck to the highly desirable Brilliant Uncirculated quality, and come individually presented in tamper-proof capsules. What’s more, each set has a unique serial number, confirming its place in the tiny edition limit, and you can even register your set online to guarantee its provenance!

This annual set has a track record of completely selling out within a matter of days, so if you want to secure a set for yourself you’ll need to be quick. You can reserve yours with a deposit of just £22. Click here to find out more >>

Imagine scaling an electricity pole in the dead of night, a bitterly cold wind rushing past your ears, and tiptoeing along a power cable through the skies of Berlin. This is exactly where trapeze artist Horst Klein found himself after being banned from performing in East Berlin for his anti-communist beliefs.

He eventually fell to the ground after becoming fatigued, but fortunately landed in West Berlin. Despite two broken arms he was finally free from the communist holds of the East. But he wasn’t the only one to risk his life.

30 years ago, on 9th November 1989, the Berlin Wall fell and the people of Berlin were liberated after being separated for almost three decades. But during the years that the Berlin Wall stood, hundreds of people followed Klein’s example, with each one having to find their own creative way to defect to the West.

West and East Germans at the Brandenburg Gate in 1989 - The Great Escape from East Berlin
West and East Germans climb on top of the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate in 1989

A homemade hot air balloon

Two friends who worked as mechanics used their skills to build a hot air balloon. They had a little help from their wives too, who stitched together bed sheets to make the actual balloon. In September 1979 the couples and their children climbed into the balloon and floated through the skies over the wall into the freedom of the West.

The last train to freedom

In 1961 not long after the wall was erected, Harry Deterling found himself driving a train down a disused railway track. As a railway engineer he knew this track led to gap where the Berlin Wall had not yet been completed. After piling his friends and family on board, Deterling drove the train at high speed through the gap in the barrier and into West Berlin. The gap was sealed by East German guards the next day, giving the train its nickname “the last train to freedom”.

East German Guard   Flickr   The Central Intelligence Agency cropped 1024x667 - The Great Escape from East Berlin
Conrad Schumann, the first person ever to cross the Berlin Wall, leaping over the barbed wire that formed the initial barricade.  

In a stolen tank

An East German soldier stole a tank in 1963 and drove it straight into the wall in the hope that it would break through. The force wasn’t enough to destroy the wall so instead the soldier was forced to climb out on top of the tank and up onto the wall. Under gunfire from the East German border guards he got stuck in barbed wire, and shot twice. Fortunately West Germans came to his aid and rescued him.

In a convertible with no windshield

Checkpoint Charlie, was the scene of a successful, and bold, escape by Heinz Meixner. He rented a red Austin-Healy Sprite, chosen because the car itself only measured 90cm high. This was vital for Mexiner’s plan. He removed the windshield and let out a little air from the tires to lower the car even more, drove to Checkpoint Charlie (with his girlfriend and mother in law hidden in the back) and drove straight under the barrier into the West.

On an air mattress

One man who was so familiar with the banks of the River Elbe, which ran through Berlin, used an air mattress as a makeshift raft. Under the cover of darkness and with a trusted friend, the pair navigated a metal fence and the muddy riverbank. They climbed on board the mattress and silently paddled along the river into West Germany.

Chipping off a piece of the Berlin Wall 1024x699 - The Great Escape from East Berlin
A ‘wall woodpecker’ chips away at a section of the Berlin Wall.

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. On the night the wall came down celebrations continued throughout the city into the early hours of the morning as friends and families reunited. Today, little remains of the wall as it was almost entirely destroyed, but the legacy of that night and the wall lives on.


If you’re interested….

You can own an ORIGINAL piece of the Berlin Wall along with a coin from both East and West Germany. And just think, this might even be the very piece that Horst Klein walked over! But it’s already over 75% sold so you’ll need to act fast. Check out the video to see Adam explain what makes this set so special or click here to order yours today >>