Paper Money

Star Wars notes in auction raise funds for charity

A series of 1,050 notes having neither government backing nor legal tender status anywhere on earth and which will never be listed in any standard reference catalogs sold on eBay in December for £186,754, or $252,400. All proceeds went to charity. 

Freedom and Liberty dominate the 19th century”During the 19th century, Freedom and Liberty often took center stage on American money. Also inside this issue, we look at a long-running series of auction catalogs that set a high standard for competitors.

The notes were issued to commemorate the launch in the United Kingdom of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and were created through a partnership between Disney, bank note printer De La Rue, and the GREAT Britain Campaign, a government marketing effort to showcase Britain. The latter was involved to celebrate the 40 years of British creativity behind the Star Wars films. One thousand of the notes were sold exclusively on, and were gone within 15 minutes on Dec. 7 at a price of £100 (the equivalent of $135) each. 

An auction of 50 premium notes with an intaglio hand-engraving of the film’s character Rey was also conducted. Each had a sequenced serial number. When the sale for these lots closed on Dec. 18, the auction had garnered over 2,500 bids with winners from Australia, China, Germany, Italy, South Korea, Sweden, the United States and the United Kingdom.

De La Rue treated the production of these notes as it would any other note. They are printed on 100 percent cotton bank note paper, and were printed in De La Rue’s high security proofing department. 

The design reflects the light and dark sides of the Star Wars universe. The side depicting the “light” depicts the character of Rey, wielding a lightsaber, who is identified at the film’s conclusion as being “the last Jedi” and the inheritor of the legacy of Luke Skywalker — also depicted on this side — from the original movie trilogy. The “dark” side depicts Kylo Ren, aka Ben Solo, son of Han Solo and Leia Organa (sister of Luke), who is following the dark path of his grandfather, Anakin Skywalker, who became Darth Vader. An image of Supreme Leader Snoke, leader of the First Order, looms over Kylo Ren.

De La Rue describes the notes as having special features including serial numbers; pattern work of the First Order and Resistance emblems; hidden scenes (seen under UV light); hidden messages in microtext (viewable with an eyeglass); a message in Aurebesh, one of the languages of the galaxy; and the signature of Director-Writer Rian Johnson. 

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A lesser known aspect of the Star Wars franchise is Star Wars: Force for Change. Its purpose, as stated in a De La Rue announcement, is to harness the “power of Star Wars to empower and improve the lives of children around the world.” To date, it has raised over $16 million for various causes. In this case, 100 percent of the money raised from the commemorative note is being donated to Together for Short Lives, a British charity that supports children’s hospices and children with life-threatening and life-limiting conditions and their families.

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