Home News Collectors queue up in London as King Charles Bank notes are released

Collectors queue up in London as King Charles Bank notes are released


In our increasingly cashless society, banknotes can still be exciting.

On Wednesday morning, a long line formed in front of the Bank of England’s headquarters – a British line, like the American line, but more orderly – and people emerged with a collectible: the first banknotes bearing the image of King Charles III.

The queues included avid coin collectors, people nostalgic for the new banknotes (the first in their lives to feature the new monarch), and tourists who happened to need to exchange their old money.

The bank has issued new £5, £10, £20 and £50 notes in a similar colour scheme to the notes that bear the image of Queen Elizabeth II. The notes will continue to circulate across the country, alongside those bearing the image of King Charles I.

Although Britons are used to seeing the monarch on their banknotes, this was not always the case. The Bank of England began printing banknotes in 1725, but the monarch did not appear on banknotes until 1960. Before then, Britannia, the personification of the United Kingdom, had been the only person on banknotes.

On Wednesday, the lines were small but steady, and people took no more than 20 minutes to exchange their money.

Lee O’Brien, who lives in East London, visited the bank on Wednesday to expand his collection of old banknotes and take a look around Britain’s most famous bank building.

“It’s just the novelty,” he said, adding that he would not spend the 180 pounds (about $230) he exchanged.

“I have nothing else to do,” said collector Jonny Blake, another Londoner who was ready to exchange 300 pounds ($383). Mr. Blake said he also owns more than 80 pounds ($102) worth of special 50-pence coins featuring King Charles’s likeness that were issued in 2023.

For Keith McCulloch, his father was an avid collector and he said he wanted to honor that tradition.

“I’m looking forward to seeing it,” Mr. McCulloch said of the new money. “It feels different to hold it in my hands.”

Others relished the historical significance of the day. Phuong and Nate Powell moved to England from Northern Virginia in 2022, shortly after Queen Elizabeth died. They said they didn’t plan to spend the money they were about to exchange. “It was more of a collector’s thing,” Ms. Powell said. Like many others, they didn’t have enough cash on hand and had to stop separately to retrieve cash for exchange.

Harpal Singh traveled to London on Wednesday morning from his home in Northampton, about 70 miles away. “I have been collecting banknotes since I was a child,” he said. Like many people, he has been waiting for the new notes for a long time. But the king, he said, “has been waiting much longer than I have.”

Mr Singh said he was pleased to see good queues and fast processing at the Bank of England on Wednesday, before walking out with £300 in fresh cash.

Mr Singh said: “The trip was well worth it.”

Most said they would keep the notes rather than spend them. Others said they would save them for their children in the hope that they would be worth money one day. Others excitedly put them in a collection album at home.

Spending those notes right away may be a challenge anyway: many coffee shops and other stores around the Bank of England no longer accept cash these days.

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