Rare Sudbury banknote sells for £600

The Sudbury bank note.
The Sudbury bank note.
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A rare red and white Sudbury £5 note – produced in the late 1800s when Sudbury printed its own money – sold for £600 at an auction on Wednesday.

The final sale price was £150 more than it had been expected to fetch.

The valuable Victorian fiver is emblazoned with the words ‘Sudbury Bank’ and features an image of the Corn Exchange, which now houses the town’s library.

Before the auction at Spink in London, the note had been expected to fetch between £350 and £450, but it was eventually snapped up by a mystery bidder for £600, making it one of Sudbury’s most valuable bank notes.

The note is not dated because it was never issued,but the names of Sudbury Bank’s partners – Gurneys, Alexanders, Birkbeck, Barclay, Buxton and Kerrison – listed in the bottom right hand corner, confirm that the note was produced sometime between 1890 and 1896.

It was during this period, the final six years of Sudbury Bank’s existence, that these men were running the bank.

Barnaby Faull, head of the banknotes department at the London auctioneers, said: “All towns and cities in England used to issue their own banknotes.

“Merchants would get together and set up their own banks. But their notes – which were like IOUs – could only be used locally, so, when many of these provincial banks went bust, their notes became completely worthless.”

While this was the case for many provincial banks in the nineteenth century, Sudbury Bank survived and flourished for 16 years.

The bank was founded in 1880 and was in business until 1896 when it was taken over by Barclay & Co Ltd, which went on to become Barclays Bank Ltd in 1917.