New polymer £20 featuring JMW Turner enters circulation

20 February 2020

New banknotes featuring British Artist JMW Turner will start to appear in ATMs and tills from today


The new polymer £20 featuring artist JMW Turner has entered circulation for the first time.

The polymer £20 is the most secure Bank of England banknote to date.

It includes two see-through windows and two-colour foil which make it very difficult to counterfeit.

The note will join the Churchill £5 and the Austen £10 in the first series of polymer notes.

What does the Turner £20 note look like?

The new polymer £20 note features a self-portrait of JMW Turner painted in c.1799.

It includes the quote “Light is therefore colour” from an 1818 lecture by Turner. The quote refers to the innovative use of light, shade, colour and tone in his pictures.

A metallic hologram which changes between the word ‘Twenty’ and ‘Pound’ when the note is tilted acts as a key security feature.

Other security mechanisms include a smaller see-through window design at the bottom of the note and a foil patch which contains a 3D image of the coronation crown.

The short video below shows the different design and security features on the new £20 note.

Turner’s self-portrait, as featured on the new £20 note, is currently on display at Tate Britain alongside the banknote.

Speaking at Tate Britain, which houses the Turner Bequest, Governor Mark Carney said: “Our banknotes celebrate the UK’s extraordinarily rich and diverse heritage and highlight the contributions of its greatest citizens.

“Turner’s art was transformative.

“I am delighted that the work of arguably the single most influential British artist of all time will now appear on another 2 billion works of art – the new £20 notes that people can start using today.”

What will happen to old £20 notes?

Paper £20 notes can continue to be used as normal.

The Bank of England will give 6 months’ notice ahead of the date that you’ll no longer be able to use the paper £20 note.

How to spot a rare Turner £20 note

When you get your hands on a new polymer £20, keep an eye out for the following features, as it could be a rare note.

Early serial numbers

Banks notes with early serial numbers tend to be sought after by collectors.

AA notes are the most valuable but any serial number starting with A is likely to be worth more than the value of the note itself.

Usually these notes don’t make their way into circulation as the BoE donates them to significant figures and causes.

For example, the first note AA01 000001 is given to the Queen. The BoE also donates many of the earliest notes to charities for auction.

It has been confirmed that some of the rarest AA notes will be released into circulation, so keep your eye out!

Consecutive serial numbers

Collectors tend to value consecutive serial numbers, especially if the numbers are low.

For example the serial number AA1234567 is likely to be popular. Other variations such as JT1234567 may also fetch a tidy sum.

Serial numbers with special meanings

Birthdays in serial numbers are likely to be more valuable.

When the Jane Austen polymer £5 notes were released, notes with serial numbers 16121775 and 18071817 were sought after as they featured the author’s birth and death dates.

Turner was born on 23 April 1775 and dies on 19 December 1851 so notes featuring the serial numbers 23041775 and 19121851 could be of value.

A not combining Turner’s birth and death year ‘17751851’ could also peak a collector’s interest.

Will any new banknotes be released?

A new polymer £50 note featuring Alan Turning will be issued next year.

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