The most commonly circulating banknote in Britain is the £20 note, with two billion of them in the system, double the number of £10 notes in circulation and far greater than the number of £5 notes (396 million) and £50 notes (344 million)
The popularity of the note is part of the reason for it also being the most likely to be forged. The Bank discovered 228,000 counterfeit banknotes in the first half of the year, of which 201,000 were £20 notes.
It has easily been the most commonly forged Bank of England banknote in each of the past 10 years.
The new £20 note will be the first to feature the signature of Sarah John, the Bank’s chief cashier, who said: “The new £20 is an important part of our commitment to providing banknotes that people can use with confidence. Our polymer notes are much harder to counterfeit and, with the £20 being our most common note, this marks a big step forward in our fight against counterfeiting.”
The banknote will feature Turner’s self-portrait, from 1799, currently on display in the Tate Britain, and one of his most eminent paintings – The Fighting Temeraire – which can be seen in the National Gallery.
Others features include:
- A large see-through window, based on the shape of the fountains in London’s Trafalgar Square, with a blue and gold foil on the front depicting Margate lighthouse and the Turner Contemporary gallery in the town
- A smaller see-through window in the bottom corner of the note inspired by Tintern Abbey
- A metallic hologram which changes between the words “Twenty” and “Pounds” when tilted
- The Queen’s portrait in the see-through window with “£20 Bank of England” printed twice around the edge
- A silver foil patch with the 3D image of the coronation crown
- A purple foil patch containing the letter T, based on the staircase at the Tate Britain gallery.
The new notes should come into circulation in February 2020.