Are you sitting on a stash of old fivers and tenners? If so, the Bank Of England would like them back.
More than a year since they ceased to be legal tender, the Bank says more than £1.5 billion of them are still in circulation, even though they can’t be used to buy anything.
The old ‘paper’ £5 notes were withdrawn in May 2017 and the ‘paper’ £10 was supposed to be taken out of circulation by March 2018, but millions of both notes are still unaccounted for.
Though they are no longer legal tender they’re not worthless because the Bank Of England is still happy to swap them for new plastic notes of the same value.
A spokeswoman revealed that 224 million paper fivers were returned, which was lower than expected, but the 697 million tenners returned was ‘in line with expectations’.
She said the bank suspected the low return rate of fivers was that as notes of lower value they were more likely to be lost or damaged and a large number of the 118 million still out there might be being held as souvenirs.
Assuring the public they would not lose out she said: “All genuine Bank of England banknotes that have been withdrawn from circulation retain their face value for all time and can still be exchanged over the counter.
“There is no fee for this service and there is no expiry on the period in which we will exchange old notes.
Banknotes can also be exchanged by post. Send them to The Bank Of England, Threadneedle Street, London EC2R 8AH.”
The notes are not the only currency the authorities want to get their hands on.
The Royal Mint is still missing 145 million of the ‘round pounds’ which went out of circulation in October 2017 after the new 12-sided coin was introduced.
The Mint, which makes all of Britain’s metal currency, said the bulk of the 1.7 billion coins in circulation were handed in during a six month transition to the new 12-sided version.
A spokesman said: “The small proportion of coins not returned can continue to be deposited into a customer’s account at most high street banks in the UK and most banks will take them over the counter, but they can no longer be spent to buy goods.”
Some of the old ‘round pounds’ are worth more than their face value as some of the designs are rarer than others, with the most valuable being the 2011 Edinburgh design worth £37.
But that pales into insignificance alongside the record holder for any British coin – a George V Lavrillier Pattern old style copper penny.
It was minted in 1933 and only four were ever made. One was sold at auction in May 2016, achieving a hammer price of £72,000 after a fierce battle between two telephone bidders, making it the world’s most expensive copper coin.