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The new £20 note – What do I need to know?

First there was the new £5 note, then plans for a £10 note and we will now see the new £20 note in the near future.

The plastic £5 are now part of our life, the polymer tenners are scheduled for next summer, and that will leave the £20 note as the the only paper currency commonly used in the UK.

The Bank of England has plans for the paper £20, and like the others it will be getting a plastic makeover.

When will we see them?

The polymer £20 is scheduled to enter circulation by 2020.

What size will they be?

Yes. As with the £5 and £10 notes made of polymer the £20 will also drop down in size. The current £20 is 14.9cm by 8cm, and the Turner note will be 13.9cm by 7.3cm.

Who will be on the new £20?

For the face of the £20 Bank of England governor Mark Carney asked the public to nominate a deceased cultural figure. The artist JMW Turner was the winner.

“Turner is arguably the single most influential British artist of all time. His work was transformative and endures today. And his work will now feature on another 2bn works of art – our new £20 notes,” Mr Carney said when announcing the artists win in April 2016.

Currently the economist Adam Smith is the face of the £20, he was introduced in 2007, prior to him was the composer Sir Edward Elgar (1999 to 2010), Michael Faraday (1991 to February 2001), and William Shakespeare (1970 to 1993).


What other features will the new notes carry?

The design has several features that will appeal to Turner fans, including his self-portrait, painted c. 1799 and currently on display in the Tate Britain.

The reverse of the note will feature one of Turner’s most eminent paintings – The Fighting Temeraire, a tribute to the ship HMS Temeraire which played a distinguished role in Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

Turner’s signature from his will, the document with which he bequeathed many of his paintings to the nation, will also appear.

There is even a quote: “Light is therefore colour” from an 1818 lecture by Turner referring to his innovative use of light, shade, colour and tone in his pictures.