Mystery auction bidder pockets Lewes fiver that is worth £1,100


A rare black and white five pound note, emblazoned with the words ‘Lewes Old Bank’ and issued 128 years ago when Lewes printed its own money, sold for £1,100 at an auction last week.

The sale made it one of the most valuable notes ever produced by a Sussex provincial bank.

Before the auction, at Spink in Bloomsbury, London, the 1884 fiver – which also features an engraving of Lewes Castle – had been expected to sell for between £500 and £700. It was snapped up by a mystery bidder. The note is described by auctioneers Spink as “rare” and “attractive” and it is in “very fine” condition.

Two other Lewes five pound notes – both issued by Lewes Old Bank, in 1877 and 1879 – sold for £650 and £420 respectively at the same auction, although four other Lewes notes failed to sell. They were among a £1 million collection of English provincial banknotes put up for sale by multi-millionaire Jersey property tycoon David Kirch, 75, which will be sold in four parts at Spink.

Lewes Old Bank was the most successful of the three privately-owned banks in the town. It was in business for 77 years until 1896, when it became part of Barclay and Co which in 1917 became Barclays Bank.