The biggest collection of provincial British bank notes ever assembled is to be sold and could net its owner a whopping £1.5 million.
David Kirch, a multi-millionaire whose charitable giving is legendary, has decided to cash in his immense collection of 4,000 notes and give the proceeds to the elderly.
Between the late 18th century and 1921 provincial banks across the country produced their own notes.
All corners of Britain are represented in the collection that is so big it is having to be sold in a series of auctions.
The paper notes were marked with the bank’s name, its logo and the amount it was worth, and they were hand signed.
The collection has taken about 30 years to assemble and is being sold along with Mr Kirch’s collection of 350 Bank of England notes, which is worth about £2million.
Many people are unaware that almost every town had its own bank that issued notes to be used in the locality.
Just like Northern Rock, however, there was often a run on these banks and they went under, leaving customers owning almost worthless cash.
Mr Kirch, who lives on Jersey and made his money from property developing, has recently been diagnosed with cancer, a life-changing event which has given him a new perspective on life.
He said: 'I started the collection in 1973 when I moved to Jersey and of all my collections it’s been the finest investment.
'Bank notes seem to be in fashion at the moment and a lot of people seem to have started to collect them.
'When I began collecting there were not many general collectors, but people who mainly collected the notes for specific regions.
'But you have to draw the line somewhere so I didn’t collect from Scotland or Ireland, but I did include Wales.
'People are amazed that there were such a large number of banks issuing notes from so many towns. I collected them from auctions and from dealers, but I didn’t buy many from the internet.
'I used to get so excited when a note came up that I didn’t have that I had to go and get it. Some were bargains and others I paid too much for, but they evened out. I enjoy the fun of collecting and got carried away and when I wanted a note I just couldn’t let it go.
'Many of these banks went bust when there was a run on them, often in the 1820s and 1830s. It is very similar to today and is like Northern Rock, which was a viable business until there was a run on it.
'None of the notes are the same although the differences can be quite small, like the names of a partner changing. There are also lots of proofs. There is also my collection of Bank of England notes being sold and all the money will go to charity for the elderly in Jersey.'
Barnaby Faull, from London auctioneers Spinks, said that the notes date approximately from the 1790s to the 1920s but most are from the 1820s and 1830s when many banks went bust.
He said: 'The banks started when merchants in a particular town got together and formed one for ease of use. The notes were circulated in just the local area where people trusted the bank.
If a bank went bust there was not a lot people could do, but rather than throw away the notes they would keep them just in case.'
The notes are in numerous denominations, but rarely bigger than £5. There are also guinea notes.
Mr Faull said: 'They are generally on high quality paper often with a watermark and they usually have a picture of the bank or a coat of arms and they usually are black and white.
'They are a bit bigger than a modern 50 pound notes and they are hand signed and hand numbered. They sell for about £200 to £300 each and the rare ones are about £2,000.
'Most people are unaware of all the provincial banks that used to exist and the notes they produced. They are easily affordable and are of great interest because they come from so many towns and counties across the country.
'If you live in a town it’s nice to have an old note issued from the local bank. The last in this collection is from 1921 in Wellington, Somerset.'
The provincial notes will be sold in four sales starting with the south and south west region, with the first sale on October 10. All proceeds will be going to the David Kirch Charitable Trust.
Source: Daily Mail