A new plastic £5 note featuring Sir Winston Churchill has been introduced into UK circulation by the Bank of England.
Designed to be longer-lasting than its paper predecessor, the old notes will start to be withdrawn. Here’s five things you maybe didn’t know about the new fiver.
1. Long life lucre
The first print-run of 440 million new fivers are, according to the Bank of England, stronger, cleaner and safer than paper notes, lasting around five years longer. They will even survive a washing machine spin.
The new notes contain new security features, making them harder to counterfeit - including a see-through window with the Queen’s portrait, plus Big Ben in gold foil on the front of the note and in silver on the back. To help vision-impaired people tell the difference between denominations, the new notes will have similar colouring to existing ones as well as bold numerals. The fiver is the first in a series of new polymer notes to be introduced, but will not feature raised dots - distinguishing it from the forthcoming £10 and £20 notes which will have “tactile features”.
3. No more female fivers
The current £5, which features Elizabeth Fry, will remain legal tender until May 5 2017. The replacement of the prison reformer with Winston Churchill would have meant that no female figures (apart from the Queen) would appear on Bank of England currency. Thousands signed a petition in protest, and it was subsequently announced that Jane Austen would appear on the new £10 note from summer 2017.
4. History and geography
The Bank of England’s non-paper note isn’t the first to be made of plastic, with governments the world over trying to perfect an anti-counterfeiting standard for currency since the 1970s. Seven countries including Australia and Canada have already only polymer notes in use. In March 2015, the Clydesdale Bank issued two million £5 polymer banknotes commemorating the 125th anniversary of the Forth Bridge.
5 Famous faces
Sir Winston Churchill - the face of the new £5 note - was also the first non-Royal to feature on a British coin - the 1965 crown or five shilling piece. Artist JMW Turner will appear on the new-look £20 banknote, due in 2020.