Coin and currency collectors can be a quirky lot. It's the nature of numismatics: sometimes the most interesting—and valuable!—rare collectibles are the product of some very small nuance or detail.
For the collectors chasing the novel new polymer five-pound banknotes introduced in the U.K., this has undeniably been the case.
Aggressive Action on eBay
The new £5 notes made from a plastic polymer made their debut last autumn to a modest amount of fanfare. The new material is supposed to be more durable and more difficult to counterfeit.
Used in Accordance with Section 18 of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981
Naturally, with a new design going into circulation, the "early production" notes are attractive to currency collectors. One hotel manager who received a shipment of notes with high serial numbers (such as those beginning with AA01) was able to flip them on eBay for eight times their face value, netting a tidy £1,000 profit. Similarly, a serial number beginning with something such as AK47 is popular and would command a significant premium, perhaps even higher than the notes from the AA01 batch.
Hoax or Joke?
Probably the most consistently high-end subsets of numismatics are coins or notes with errors. Due to the limited and novel nature of error pieces, not to mention the enlightening trivia that can be gleaned from accounting for the source of the error, they are prized by many collectors. Some hobbyists even specialize in collecting errors.
Probably the most entertaining example of the polymer note collecting frenzy falls into this category—but may merely be a prank played on overly enthusiastic error collectors!
Either entirely facetiously or as a tongue-in-cheek scam, one seller on eBay posted a listing for one of the polymer notes that had purportedly been printed upside-down in error.
Such an alignment error does indeed exist for coins -- but is essentially unknown for banknotes. One should immediately wonder if the seller merely flipped the image taken of the note upside down! More blatantly making this appear to be a joke is the fact that the listing claims the error was certified by the "Department of Upside-down English Printed Denominatoins," an obviously fictitious organization whose acronym spells out DUPED.
Nonetheless, the note has apparently been bid up to nearly £70,000! In the spirit of the hoax, the seller will donate the winning bid—and the original fiver—to charity.
The opinions and forecasts herein are provided solely for informational purposes, and should not be used or construed as an offer, solicitation, or recommendation to buy or sell any product.