History of the £10 Pound Note

Series A : White £10 Note – Issued 1759

The £10 note was first issued by the Bank of England during the Seven Year’s War (1755-1764) to help maintain more of its gold reserves. The idea was for people to cash in smaller denominations of money in exchange for gold, thus easing the strain on the bank.

The white £10 note was issued in 1759 and was roughly 210 x 127mm. It was printed on white paper, single sided with black ink. These notes remained in use with few changes through to 1945 when the £10 note was removed as a denomination until the Series C design in 1964.

Series C: Issued 1964

After 19 years of absence the £10 note was re-issued by the Bank of England in 1964 alongside other notes in the Series C “portrait style” as it later became known. Both the £10 & £5 notes were designed by Reynolds Stone and were the first notes to depict the monarch (Queen Elizabeth II) on the front side.

Stone was clearly influenced by the Series B £5 note issued in 1957 as he carried over the Bank of England’s symbolic Lion holding a double sided key; a sign of Britain’s economic strength. Another notable feature is the continued use of the water mark, this time Queen Elizabeth II, to reduce counterfeiting. The Series C notes were withdrawn May 1979.






Series D: Issued 1975

1975 saw the release of what later became known as the pictorial series £10 note. The pictorial series not only had the monarch pictured on the front but also a famous historical figure on the reverse side. Every note in this series was designed by Harry Ecclestone and just like other notes in the series the Queen is depicted wearing state robes, the George IV State Diadem, Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee necklace and Queen Alexandra’s Cluster Earrings.

The figure on the reverse is Florence Nightingale, also known as “The Lady with the Lamp”. She is seen alongside an illustration of her working at the Selimiye Barracks in Scutari, Turkey during the Crimean War. The watermark on this note also depicts Florence Nightingale instead of the queen.

Florence Nightingale (1820 – 1910) was a British nurse who was among some of the first women to serve in the army. She was appointed to help during the Crimean war at Scutari Barracks alongside 38 other nurses. The appalling conditions she found in the barracks later led her to the conclusion that there was a need for greater sanitation within the armed forces.





Series E: Issued 1992 & Revised 1993

The current note in use today is the re-released version of the series E. Originally the series E was released in 1992 and featured Charles Dickens on the reverse with a scene from The Pickwick Papers. Designed by Roger Withington it was revised in 1993 to include the “£10” on the upper right on both sides (replacing the crown on the front). It is mostly an orange brown colour, although is classified as multi-coloured by the bank of England.

Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870) was a British author whose classic literature works are known the world over. He rose from working in a factory to writing for newspapers and eventually went on to produce some of his most famous work; David Copperfield and Great Expectations.






 Series E Re-Design: Issued 2000

The current series E £10 note in use today keeps a similar style to the original 1993 note but replaces Charles Dickens with Charles Darwin. Alongside Darwin is a depiction of the famous ship HMS Beagle heading out to sea, as well as Darwin’s magnifying glass and a Hummingbird, these items are supposed to represent his controversial and pioneering book The Origin of Species.

The Hummingbird on this note has caused some controversy in itself. Professor Steve Jones, of University College London told The Guardian newspaper that there are no Hummingbirds on the Galapagos Islands, and that Mockingbirds and Finches were what led Darwin to thinking of evolution. In fact there is no mention of Hummingbirds in The Origin of Species.T

he Bank of England’s reply to this statement was: “the ship HMS Beagle… is depicted on the back of the note. Also pictured is an illustration of Darwin’s own magnifying lens and the flora and fauna that he may have come across on his travels.” – suggesting that the note doesn’t depict the Galapagos Islands specifically and is representative of Darwin’s complete travels on HMS Beagle.

 Series F – Jane Austen Polymer Note: To Be Issued 2017

The future £10 note to be released in 2017 will feature famous British writer Jane Austen, known for works such as Sense and Sensibility as well as Pride and Prejudice. It will be printed on polymer to continue the Bank of England’s transfer to plastic notes beginning with the £5 note in 2016.

The Bank of England Governor said: “Jane Austen certainly merits a place in the select group of historical figures to appear on our banknotes. Her novels have an enduring and universal appeal and she is recognised as one of the greatest writers in English literature. As Austen joins Adam Smith, Boulton and Watt, and in future, Churchill, our notes will celebrate a diverse range of individuals who have contributed in a wide range of fields.”

The note will include Austen’s twelve sided writing table and quills as a central backdrop above an image of Godmerhsam Park, believed to be the inspiration of a few of her novels. It will also have the quote – “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading” from Pride and Prejudice.

Extra Reading & Information:

Bank of England Bank Note Statistics

Article Sources:
– Bank of England – Withdrawn Bank Notes
– World Bank Notes and Coins – Series C Bank Note
– World Bank Notes and Coins – Series D Bank Note
– BBC – Florence Nightingale
– World Bank Notes and Coins – Series E Revision Bank Note
– BBC – Charles Dickens
– The Guardian – Darwin Hummingbird Controversy
– Bank of England – Jane Austen 2017 Bank Note