Have you got the winning ticket this Christmas? Well, check your wallets now and have a magnifying glass at the ready.
Four special £5 polymer notes engraved with minute portraits of Jane Austen have gone into circulation, with experts putting an estimated price tag of £20,000 on the quirky pieces of currency.
The chances of one ending up in your pocket are evidently as tiny as the etchings, but curious shoppers can start by checking the serial number: they all start with the same seven digits, reading ‘AM32 885’.
The tiny artworks were created by Birmingham-based micro-engraver Graham Short, 70, in collaboration with the Tony Huggins-Haig Gallery in Kelso, Scotland.
Four special £5 polymer notes engraved with miniature portraits of Jane Austen have gone into circulation Experts have put an estimated price tag of £20,000 on the quirky pieces of currency
Short engraved a 5mm portrait of Jane Austen on the translucent area next to Big Ben on each of the notes.
He finished the etchings by framing them with a circular quote from one of the late author’s famous novels.
It apparently took Short more than two weeks to engrave each note.
The notes were ‘used casually’ and put into circulation over the weekend, with a fifth donated to the Jane Austen Society.
Magnifying glasses at the ready! You will need to have sharp eyes to spot the winning ticket as the minuscule engraving is only visible in certain light Telling sign: Each of the paper pieces of money feature serial numbers starting with the same seven digits, reading ‘AM32 885’
You will need to have sharp eyes to spot the winning ticket as the minuscule engravings are only visible in certain light.
Contemporary artist Tony Huggins-Haig, who owns runs the Tony Huggins-Haig gallery with his wife Yvonne, said he commissioned Short to create the etchings in a bid to give art ‘a much wider appeal’.
He told This Is Money: ‘Graham is one artist we work with and he wanted to help what we do by coming up with something to help the ordinary man in the street during these hard times.
‘The popularity of his work has gone through the roof worldwide with clients now including the Royal Household, Scottish Parliament, Rolls Royce and Chanel, which is great, but it’s no longer accessible to most people.
Micro-engraver: Short’s (pictured above) art requires unique dedication and skill – he only works between midnight and 5am, when traffic vibrations are at their most limited
‘But I think the £5 note idea is a cracker. It’s real Willy Wonka stuff and we can’t wait for someone to find they have one.’
The initiative also rings in the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, which will be marked by various events during 2017.
Commenting on his latest project, Short added: ‘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 beauty of this is that you can’t see the engraving at all, but when you turn the note and the light comes at a different angle it appears. I call it invisible engraving.
‘I’ve no idea how much they will be worth but £20,000 is a conservative estimate – previous pieces I’ve done have been insured for more than £50,000.
‘If somebody finds they have one I hope they put it on eBay and get some extra money for Christmas.’
Short’s art requires unique dedication and skill.
He only works between midnight and 5am, when traffic vibrations are at their most limited and he can bring his heart-rate down to 30 beats per minute, as he engraves between beats.
He even binds his right arm to a chair to reduce body movement.
In April this year, he created what is believed to be the world’s smallest ever portrait of the Queen on the head of a 2mm wide gold pin to commemorate her 90th birthday.
One of his other standout pieces is a gold pin with The Lord’s Prayer copied on to the head.
It took him 40 years to complete and he has been offered £1million pounds for the piece, however he has said it is strictly not for sale.