Turner £20 banknote enters circulation

The new polymer £20 note featuring the artist JMW Turner entered circulation on Thursday, with a hidden digital twist for 21st century users of cash.

The Bank of England has worked with Snapchat, the multimedia messaging app, to develop an augmented reality lens that enables users of the app to bring Turner’s celebrated painting “The Fighting Temeraire” to life by viewing it through their smartphone. The ship played a key role in Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. 

The note’s security features include two see-through windows and a two- colour foil, which makes it very difficult to counterfeit. The large window, which echoes the shape of the fountains in Trafalgar Square, depicts the Margate lighthouse and the Turner Contemporary art gallery.

The note also contains the quote “Light is therefore colour” from an 1818 lecture by Turner.

The Bank of England expects half of ATMs around the UK to be dispensing the new £20 notes within the next fortnight. 

Existing paper £20 notes can continue to be used as normal. The Bank of England will give six months’ notice ahead of legal tender status being withdrawn.

The new £20 note is the latest to be printed on plastic polymer, following the launch of a £10 note featuring Jane Austen and a £5 note featuring Winston Churchill.

revamped £50 note featuring Alan Turing is due to be issued next year.


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