What happened to the fivers 'worth £50,000'?

image source, Ferguson Media
image captionA 5mm portrait of Jane Austen was put on the transparent part of the plastic Bank of England £5 notes

A year has passed since four special £5 notes, engraved with a tiny 5mm portrait of author Jane Austen and reckoned to be worth up to £50,000, went into circulation.

The fivers featured art by specialist micro-engraver Graham Short, whose previous work, a portrait of the Queen on a pinhead, sold for £100,000.

The notes were spent in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland in a project that was a collaboration with the Tony Huggins-Haig Gallery in Kelso in the Borders.

But what fate did all the notes meet after they were first used to make purchases in December 2016?

Act of charity

image source, Tony Huggins-Haig Gallery

The note spent in Northern Ireland was returned to the gallery in south-east Scotland with a small, hand-written note reading: "£5 note enclosed, I don't need it at my time of life. Please use it to help young people, kindest regards J…".

Both Mr Short and Mr Huggins-Haig agreed the best way forward was to give to a charity "known for helping young people of any and all walks of life".

The auction took place in London this week.

Christmas surprise

image source, Ferguson Media
image captionThe four notes carried consecutive serial numbers

Mr Huggins-Haig said that it was not clear whether the sender had known the value of the gift they had sent their loved one.

The recipient told the gallery they had only checked the note "on the off-chance" it was one of the valuable ones.

They added that they wished to remain anonymous.

Granddaughter's treat

image source, Graham Short
image captionGraham Short used the fiver to pay for a sandwich

The first note to be discovered was the one used to pay for a sausage and egg sandwich in a cafe in Blackwood, Caerphilly county.

Mr Short said he had selected the town as it is where his mother was born in 1909.

The note was found a few days later in south Wales but the owner wished to remain anonymous.

Still missing

image source, Getty Images
image captionThe last valuable five pound note is still out there somewhere

One of the special £5s remains in circulation 12 months after it was used.

"The last note, the one spent in Melton Mowbray, is still out there, somewhere in circulation," confirmed a spokesman for the gallery.

Anyone who finds the remaining missing note - with serial number AM32 885554 - has been advised to contact the gallery.

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