£50k fiver donated back to Kelso gallery by mystery recipient

Micro-engraver Graham Short who created the notes.
Micro-engraver Graham Short who created the notes.

A special £5 note estimated to be worth up to £50,000 has been returned to the Kelso art gallery which originally spent it.

The third of four rare fivers was returned to the Tony Huggins-Haig Gallery this week after it was found by a lady known only as J in Northern Ireland.

The mystery woman posted the note back to the gallery with a letter which said: “£5 note enclosed, I don’t need it at my time of life. Please use it to help young people. J. x”

The gallery will now auction the note off in aid of BBC charity Children in Need.

The special notes featuring micro-engraved portraits of novelist Jane Austen were created by artist Graham Short. He etched on a unique serial number and quote onto each note, and in December, quietly spent them in shops in each of the four home nations.

One turned up in a Christmas card in the Borders, not far from where it was put into circulation at a Kelso bakery. The recipient remained anonymous, but kept the note to hang on their wall. Another was found in a café in south Wales in December.

The other remains unclaimed.

Mr Short came up with the idea of engraving 5mm portraits of Austen on the transparent part of the new plastic Bank of England £5 notes to mark the 200th anniversary of her death, at the age of 41, next year. The 70-year-old, of Birmingham, said: “I’m always looking to do something different, and as soon as I saw the new £5 note, I thought ‘wouldn’t it be good if I could engrave something on it?’

“I didn’t know what, but then I found out it was going to be the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, and her image is also going on the new £10 note, so it ties in nicely with that.

The series number of the remaining note is AM32885554.