A £20 Bank of Ireland specimen note in red from the Ploughman series – £42,000 at Dix Noonan Webb.

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The vast majority of the group offered by the London saleroom comprises Irish notes and will be auctioned in several parts.

The first instalment included two ‘specimen’ notes from the Ploughman series that was first issued by the Currency Commission of Ireland as a transitional measure for eight Irish banks between May and June 1929.

As part of the arrangement, the banks were to withdraw their previous issues from circulation and refrain from issuing their own notes in future.

The notes are referred to as the Ploughman series for obvious reasons – all the denominations from £1 to £100 carry an image of a ploughman.

The two rare ‘not for circulation’ notes offered here (both stamped Specimen and carrying fictitious dates for September 5, 1978) were £20 notes created for the Bank of Ireland.

Both estimated at £2600-3200 each, the example in orange sold at £3400 while the one in red was competed to a remarkable £42,000 (both plus 24% buyer’s premium).

Huge interest

As Andrew Pattison, head of department at DNW, explained: “This beautiful Ploughman specimen £20 is the first to appear at auction in many years and attracted a huge amount of interest. Bank records show beyond doubt that all issued £20 notes were redeemed and destroyed, which means specimens like this one are the only way collectors are able to acquire one.

“Two very serious Irish collectors, both based abroad, evidently felt that this was going to be very difficult to acquire another example.”

A similar specimen £10 note issued for the Northern Bank Ltd sold for £18,600 at DNW in February.