Margate witnesses launch of Turner £20 note

The design for the new £20 polymer note featuring artist JMW Turner has been revealed by the governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, at the Turner Contemporary art gallery in Margate

The notes will come into circulation for the first time on 20 February 2020 and a date for the withdrawal of the current £20 has not been confirmed. There are over 3.6bn bank notes in circulation worth about £70bn covering all denominations, and of those at least 2bn are £20 notes valued at £40bn, according to the Bank of England.

The polymer £20 note contains sophisticated security features making it the most secure Bank of England banknote yet. For the first time, the note incorporates two windows and a two-colour foil, making it very difficult to counterfeit.

Turner’s signature is from his Will, the document with which he bequeathed many of his paintings to the nation.

Polymer notes last longer than paper notes and they stay in better condition during day-to-day use. This note, like the polymer £10, will contain a tactile feature to help vision impaired people identify the denomination.

The polymer £20 note will join the Churchill £5 and the Austen £10. A new £50 note, featuring Alan Turing, will follow in 2021.

The public can continue to spend paper £20 notes as usual and these will be gradually withdrawn as they are banked by retailers and the public. Notice will be given six months ahead of legal tender status of the paper £20 being withdrawn.

Commenting on the new note, Carney said: ‘Our banknotes celebrate the UK’s heritage, salute its culture, and testify to the achievements of its most notable individuals. And so it is with the new £20 banknote, featuring JMW Turner, launched today at Turner Contemporary in Margate. Turner’s contribution to art extends well beyond his favourite stretch of shoreline. Turner’s painting was transformative, his influence spanned lifetimes, and his legacy endures today. The new £20 note celebrates Turner, his art and his legacy in all their radiant, colourful, evocative glory.’

The new £20 note will be the first to feature the signature of Sarah John, the Bank’s chief cashier. John 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.’

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