On 27 May 2021, a new star rose in the souvenir note sky above Great Britain: the £0 Souvenir Note. It remains to be seen whether it will be a competitor of the 0 euro souvenir note, which is well known in many countries of the world. After all, the first issue already brought a pleasant breath of fresh air from the British Isles. To be clear from the start: size, layout, colour and fonts are the same as those of 0 euro notes. Nevertheless, the issuers obviously didn’t want £0 notes to resemble euro notes too much, therefore the notes feature the currency designation Pound (£) and the Union Flag. However, it was not possible to do without the “euro” altogether: a closer look reveals the legend “EUROSOUVENIR” on both sides.
Obverse: Richard Faille’s Signature
Many things remained the same, for example the twelve five-pointed stars of the European flag that dominate the centre of British souvenir notes. Richard Faille’s signature also can be found in the usual place at the bottom right. On the margins of both sides, you can still read “EUROSOUVENIR” and the micro inscription in the background reads “ZEROEUROSOUVENIR” on both sides. The hologram at the top right is the same as on 0 euro notes, as are the design of the four identification letters at the bottom and the six-digit serial number. The security thread can be found in the centre – as on 0 euro souvenir notes – and features a zero. Thus, no new security thread was created. The reference to the printing plant in Oberthur at the bottom of the reverse is also the same.
Changes on the obverse:
- At the top left, the Union Jack immediately catches the observer’s eye, so the stylized European flag with the “EUROSOUVENIR” inscription was replaced by the British flag.
- The flag is depicted in a waving motion. At this point, it is worth taking a look at previous Swiss notes for comparison because the flag on Swiss notes is not waving.
- The country code chosen for Great Britain is “GB”. The four identification numbers at the bottom right thus no longer include the reference (E) to the Oberthur printing plant.
- The first note from Great Britain has a QR code on the left side for scanning. This is new. If you scan the QR code with a smartphone, for example, you are taken to souvenirnote.co.uk. It remains to be seen whether other issuers will also use this option to always have their information available.
- Just below it, you can read “Zero Pound” in a pleasant font. The legend “EUROSOUVENIR” as well as the zero (see-through register) were omitted.
Reverse: The Comeback of Big Ben
Some details that we are familiar with from euro souvenir notes were changed on British £0 pound notes. Belém Tower had to make way for London’s Big Ben. The micro inscriptions hidden in the individual buildings that show the name of the respective monument are still there. However, the place of the inscription for Big Ben was changed. I summarised all deviations and changes that I discovered so far down below.
Changes on the reverse:
- Belém Tower was replaced by Big Ben.
- Big Ben is slightly larger than on the first issue of the 0 euro souvenir notes. The clock shows another time than before. On the notes issued until 2017, it shows 10:10, now it shows 4:44.
- The name reference to Big Ben on the building in micro inscription is now above the clock and no longer in a circle on the clock face.
- The symbol of the currency (£) is in front of the zero. On 0 euro notes, the euro symbol is always depicted behind the zero.
- The large zero at the top was well shaded on British notes. It therefore has a more pleasing look.
- At the bottom right, there is no see-through register with a zero; instead you can read “Zero Pound” and the well-known symbol with the bird’s eye view of the Eiffel Tower.
An Examination under UV Light
On the obverse, you immediately notice the symbol for the pound sterling (£) followed by a zero. On the reverse, Big Ben is the dominating feature. There seems to be no other difference to 0 euro souvenir notes. However, if you compare Swiss notes to the British issue, you will notice that the Swiss flag does glow under UV light, whereas the Union Jack does not.
To be precise, England – as part of the United Kingdom – already started issuing souvenir notes with the issue GBAA 2020-1 “London”. However, the notes still featured the European flag and didn’t show Big Ben on the reverse, and they were 0 euro souvenir notes of course. Those interested in having a complete collection will therefore also want to have this issue.
Given that the Sterling Souvenir Note Ltd. cooperates with future issuers and advices them, it is to be wished that there will be further interesting £0 notes in the future. However, it is also an important task to make such issues accessible to collectors in the EU without major problems such as additional customs difficulties.
Meanwhile, it was announced that another note from England will be issued, which is dedicated to the club of the historic cricket ground of 1864 in Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, England. So we can look forward to see new exciting issues.
In our archive you can find more articles on the subject of 0 euro notes – also by numiscontrol.
In the summer of 2021, we reported on the release of the first £0 note.