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Willy Wonka-style hunt for Jane Austen-engraved currency down to last note

Courtesy of Graham Short

Zelda Caldwell - published on 02/26/17

Whoever finds it could claim over $62,000

Have you got the “Golden Ticket?” Millions of Brits are checking their wallets in hopes of finding the last of four £5 notes engraved with microscopic portait of Jane Austen, the author of Pride and Prejudice and other beloved novels.

The treasure hunt, reminiscent of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s story Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, was the inspiration of the artist and micro-engraver Graham Short, who is famous for engraving the Lord’s Prayer on the head of a pin. Each note is said to be worth up to £50,000 – or over $62,000, and the last one is still at large.

According to The Telegraph, Short came up with the idea of engraving the portrait of Austen, which can only be seen with the aid of a microscope (although it is possible to see the outline of the portrait with the naked eye), to mark the 200th anniversary of her death.  In addition to her minuscule portrait, each of the four notes is adorned with quotes from Jane Austen’s novels:

  • ‘If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more’ – Emma
  • ‘To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love’ – Pride and Prejudice
  • ‘A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of’ – Mansfield Park
  • ‘I hope I never ridicule what is wise or good’ – Pride and Prejudice

The four notes were circulated throughout the British Isles in December, and while the first three were quickly discovered, the last note remains in circulation.  It was spent in the Dickinson & Morris Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, but could be anywhere in the world by now.

“It would be wondrous if someone finds it who is deserving, who is blown away by it, and who wants to do something worthwhile with it,” said Tony Huggins-Haig, a friend of the artist, who launched the project.

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