Some pride, some prejudice: Jane Austen £10 note debuts

Proud Bank of England officials unveil note’s final design, though some critics grumble
By , Special to Coin World
Published : 07/31/17
Text Size

The author of some of the greatest works of literature in the English language now has her place in a new medium. On July 18, the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney unveiled the final design of the new £10 note with her portrait. 

The note is printed on polymer and will be issued on Sept. 14. It follows the Churchill £5 note as the second of the bank’s issues made of polymer. A third, a £20 note featuring J.M.W. Turner, will follow in 2020. Although the bank is looking for a substitute for the rendered animal fat (tallow) in the polymer that caused a controversy among vegans, religious groups and animal-rights activists after the £5 was introduced, the Austen note is made of the same materials. It is expected to last at least 2.5 times longer than paper notes, or about five years, and stay in better condition, according to Bank of England officials. 

Connect with Coin World:  

Sign up for our free eNewsletter
Like us on Facebook  
Follow us on Twitter

The new £10 note is the first Bank of England bank note with a tactile feature to assist the visually impaired — a series of raised dots in the top left-hand corner. That is in addition to the elements already incorporated in English bank notes for vision impaired people — tiered sizing, bold numerals, raised print and differing color palettes. 

The bank’s press release says the £10 note’s sophisticated security features make it very difficult to counterfeit. They include a see-through window featuring the queen’s portrait; Winchester Cathedral shown in gold foil on the face of the note and silver on the back; a quill at the side of the window that changes from purple to orange; a hologram with the word TEN that changes to POUNDS when the note is tilted; a hologram of the coronation crown that appears in 3-D and multicolored when the note is tilted; a book-shaped copper foil patch that contains the letters JA; microlettering beneath the queen’s portrait with tiny letters and numbers that are visible under a microscope; the words BANK OF ENGLAND printed in intaglio (raised ink) along the top of the note; and the “Omron Rings” on both sides to deter digital duplication. 


The peak of Olympic gold coins: Another column in the August 14 weekly issue of Coin World also profiles a rubber token that promotes a commonplace object we all use.


The note’s design is a celebration of Austen and includes features that have appalled some of the more pedantic of her addicts. The quote from Chapter XI of Pride and Prejudice below her portrait: “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!” has some devotees up in arms because the statement was meant to be ironic, and was thus, they claim, ignorantly taken out of context by the bank. Her portrait is also causing controversy since it makes her look more attractive than she really was. The bank adapted it from a sketch by her sister Cassandra. Other elements that have not yet caused problems include an image of Godmersham Park, the home of her brother and inspiration for some of her novels, her writing table, and writing quills.

The face of the note has the traditional portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. The current £10 note will be withdrawn in spring 2018.

You are signed in as:null
No comments yet