Rare £5 note which belonged to Harold Macmillan to go under the hammer

The fiver presented to Harold Macmillan
The fiver presented to Harold Macmillan

A £5 banknote which was originally presented to former prime minister Harold Macmillan in 1957 is expected to sell for up to £22,000 at auction next week.

The note, in a blue leather presentation wallet, has the serial number A01 000003 and has an estimate of £18,000 to £22,000.

It is being put up for sale at Dix Noonan Webb’s auction of British Irish and world banknotes on Thursday, May 27 in Mayfair London.

Thomasina Smith, head of numismatics (associate director) at Dix Noonan Webb said: “This important note is the lowest serial number note available to commerce and arguably the finest post-war Bank of England note in the public domain.


“Serial numbers one and two are held in the Royal Collection, having been presented to the Queen and the late Duke of Edinburgh.”

She added: “This spectacular and timeless design, known by many collectors as either the the lion and key fiver or the Britannia fiver, was the first significant change of design for the £5 note since the introduction of the denomination in the late 1700s.”

Another £5 Bank of England note, with was presented to Macmillan in 1963, is also being offered for sale. It also has the serial number A01 000003 and is estimated at £12,000 to £16,000.

The sale also includes a strong selection of Irish banknotes, including a rare £100 dated 1928 which is estimated at £12,000 to £16,000, those behind the auction said.

And among the Scottish notes for sale is an unissued note dating at around 1772 from Bannockburn, expected to fetch £1,800 to £2,200.

All Scottish errors are very unusual

Andrew Pattison, Dix Noonan Webb

A group of Scottish banknotes with errors such as misprints and crumples will also be auctioned.

Andrew Pattison, head of department, banknotes, Dix Noonan Webb said: “All Scottish errors are very unusual, partly because of good quality control, and party because of quite small print runs. This group represents more Scottish errors than I have seen in total, in the last decade of doing this job.”

English provincial banknotes are also up for sale, including a £5 dating from 1899 featuring York Minster, which is estimated at £700 to £900, while from Pease’s Old Bank in Hull is a rare early example of a high denomination – a £10 dating from 23 January 1772 which carries an estimate of £800 to £1,000.

Mr Pattison said: “This beautiful note, issued in Leyburn in 1899, is one of the latest dates possible for an English provincial banknote. It features a stunning vignette of York Minster in the upper centre, while the £10 note was issued in Hull in 1772 is one of the earliest dated notes in the sale.

“It was a huge sum of money at the time, and in today’s money, was the equivalent of having a £1,500 note in your pocket.”

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