Britain unveils Jane Austen bank note on anniversary

20 July, 2017, 00:45 | Author: Lorena Waters
  • Petersfield Library apprentice Katja Weddell with the Jane Austen 200 promotional stand

The unveiling on Tuesday coincided with Jane Austen's 200th death anniversary.

It seemed only fitting therefore that the £10 note would get a revamp and sure enough it was announced in February that it would get a makeover and be circulated in the same durable polymer as the £5 note.

The note was launched at Austen's resting place, Winchester Cathedral by Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England. It's an author publicity portrait painted after she died in which she's been given the Georgian equivalent of an airbrushing-she's been subtly 'improved.'"Portrait of Jane Austen dated 1810".

It's unfortunate therefore that the public reaction hasn't been entirely positive so far. There's even a quote from the 1813 novel prominently displayed under Austen's portrait: "I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!"

The Jane Austen quote on the note from Pride and Prejudice has also attracted some unfavourable comment.

The Bank of England has pointed to tighter security as a major motivation for switching to new design banknotes, with the polymer models created to prevent counterfeiting.

An illustration of Miss Elizabeth Bennet undertaking "The examination of all the letters which Jane had written to her"- from a drawing by Isabel Bishop (1902-1988).

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"It's two things: It captures much of [Austen's] spirit, that is the quote, you can read it straight, there is no enjoyment like reading, and we agree with that", he said.

The central bank has printed an initial run of a billion of the new notes, which are known in Britain as "tenners".

She becomes the fourth woman to be featured on bank notes, compared to 14 men. "Austen's novels have a universal appeal and speak as powerfully today as they did when they were first published", he added.

However, it said that doing so would compromise anti-counterfeit measures and would prove expensive. But it is considering using palm oil as the base for its next £20 note, which will feature painter J.M.W. Turner and is to enter circulation by 2020, as well as any reprints of its £5 and £10 bills.

In November the Bank admitted the polymer pellets used to make new fivers used an "extremely small amount" of the substance, leading to 134,000 people signing a petition against their use.

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