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A new polymer £10 note bristling with state-of-the-art security features comes into circulation today.

Unveiled in July, the new note features novelist Jane Austen, is 15% smaller than the current tenner and should last two-and-a-half times longer because it is printed on crumple and tear-resistant plastic (officially called polymer). It will gradually replace the current ‘paper’ £10 note, featuring Charles Darwin, which will be phased out by sometime next Spring.

It is also the first UK banknote to incorporate a ‘tactile feature’ – a series of raised dots in the top left-hand corner. Similar to braille, it will help blind and partially sighted people identify the note and has been developed in conjunction with the RNIB.

There are several security features in the new note, designed to make it much harder to counterfeit. A see-through window features the Queen’s portrait and Winchester Cathedral is shown in gold on the front of the note and silver on the back. When the note is tilted, a quill at the side of the window changes from orange to purple, the wording of a silver foil hologram changes from ‘Ten’ to ‘Pounds’, and the coronation crown appears to become 3D and have a multi-coloured rainbow effect.

The note also features micro-lettering beneath the Queen’s portrait with tiny letters and numbers visible under a microscope. The words ‘Bank of England’ are printed in raised ink along the top of the note and a there is a book-shaped copper foil patch featuring the letters ‘JA’ for Jane Austen.

The reverse of the note has several features related to Jane Austen’s life and achievements, most notably a portrait of the author based on an original sketch by her elder sister, Cassandra. There is a quote from her best-known work, “Pride and Prejudice”, which reads: “I declare after all there is no pleasure like reading!”, and an image of that novel’s protagonist, Elizabeth Bennett.

The central design in the background is inspired by Jane Austen’s 12-sided writing table and quills, while Gomersham Park, the home of her brother and inspiration for some of her novels, is also featured.

It will take around six months to gradually withdraw the current paper (actually a type of linen) £10 notes from circulation and replace them with the new polymer ones. An exact date for when the paper note will cease to be legal tender will be announced by the Bank of England in the coming weeks. After that date, you won’t be able to spend the old paper notes and you shouldn’t accept them in change, but you will be able to exchange them for new notes at your bank or directly with the Bank of England.

For the next six months or so, both the old and new notes will be in circulation together and either can be used as legal tender, although the old paper notes should steadily become more scarce. A new polymer £20 note is set to be introduced in 2020 and it has already been announced that it will feature a portrait of artist J.M.W. Turner, plus many of the same security features on the new £5 and £10 notes. No plans have yet been announced to replace the current £50 note, featuring steam engine pioneers Matthew Boulton and James Watt.

For more information about the new Jane Austen £10 note, click here.

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