Bank of England £1,000 notes were withdrawn from circulation during
World War II because of a Nazi plot to flood Britain with forged
currency. Only about two dozen survive, and one is to be auctioned by
Dix Noonan Webb in London on Sept. 29, 2014.
The note, dated Oct. 15, 1935, is expected to fetch £18,000 to
£22,000 ($30,700 to $37,600 in U.S. funds), according to the auction firm.
When it was printed, the £1,000 note was not something anyone would
have carried around in a wallet routinely, which may account for its
excellent condition, according to the auction firm.
The £1,000 note had significant purchasing power. For example, the
average price of a house in the United Kingdom in 1935 was £530, so
the note would have been enough to buy one average home and another
one slightly further down in the property price scale. The face value
of the note was worth more than five times the average annual salary
of £192 in the United Kingdom at the time.
The £1,000 note was the highest denomination ever issued by the Bank
of England. Its demise was prompted by Operation Bernhard, the German
plan to destabilize the British economy by flooding the country with
counterfeit notes during World War II.
The original plan was to parachute the money into Britain, but it
was found more practical to use the notes to pay German agents
operating throughout Europe. The Bank of England reacted by
withdrawing all notes in denominations of more than £5. The £1,000
note was last issued in 1943 and ceased to be legal tender April 16, 1945.
When the £1,000 notes were withdrawn from circulation and destroyed,
just 63 remained unaccounted for, and today about two dozen are
thought to exist. The example to be auctioned at Dix Noonan Webb was
consigned by a British private collector.
For more information about the note and the upcoming auction, visit
the firm’s website or email the firm.
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