An elderly Northern Irish woman who found one of the new special edition £5 notes has donated it to charity, saying that she wants the money to be used to “help young people”.
The special fivers, which all bear a tiny etching of Jane Austen by British engraver Graham Short, are so rare that each is worth an estimated £50,000. Only four were originally put into circulation in December.
Two of the four engraved notes had already been found when the Irish woman, who has asked to remain anonymous, discovered that she had the third.
She promptly sent it back to Short at the THH Gallery in Scotland, with a letter reading: “£5 note enclosed, I don’t need it at my time of life. Please use it to help young people.”
A statement on Short’s website reads: “The lady who found the note has surprised us all by sending it to the gallery and asking that it be used to help young people.
“Graham and the Gallery will be working closely together to do so.”
The statement added that Short and his colleagues were “currently contacting outlets connected to Children in Need to try and give this to a good cause so we can honour the request of the lucky woman who originally discovered the note.
“Stay tuned for more information as the story develops over the following days!”
Short – known as “the world’s smallest engraver” – is famous for once etching the Lord’s Prayer on the head of a pin. He told the BBC that the selfless woman who found the note was adamant that she didn’t want to go public with her good deed.
“She said, ‘I don’t want my picture in the papers… If it sells for a lot of money it will be better if young children could benefit from it,’” he explained.
Short’s special edition plastic fivers bear a tiny picture of Jane Austen on the transparent part of the note, each encircled with a different quotation from Emma, Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park.
The artist came up with the idea as a way of marking the 200th anniversary of Austen’s death, as well as celebrating the release of the new money.
Watch: Life advice from Jane Austen
Artist Tony Huggins-Haig, who launched the project alongside Short, said that around 5,000 people have contacted his gallery falsely claiming to have found one of the special fivers.
“It would be wondrous if someone finds it who is deserving, who is blown away by it, and who wants to do something worthwhile with it,” Huggins-Haig told the Telegraph.
“It’s been an incredible and humbling story thanks to Graham, who goes to incredible lengths to create artwork.
“It really is a Willy Wonka story, and one day all four stories will be told, of which the first three are incredible.”
There is now just one of the special engraved notes in circulation. Two have already been found – one in Wales and one in Scotland – by recipients who said that they intended to keep the notes rather than sell them.
The series number of the remaining note is AM32885554.
Images: Getty, iStock