LONDON: A new polymer 10-pound note featuring one of the world's most famous female novelists, Jane Austen, entered circulation in the UK today.
The new note replaces the older paper version and includes raised dots for blind people and greater security features of a hologram.
The older note, which featured British naturalist Charles Darwin, will still be accepted in shops until early 2018 with the exact date of withdrawal to be published three months in advance.
"Our banknotes serve as repositories of the country's collective memory, promoting awareness of the UK's glorious history and highlighting the contributions of its greatest citizens," said Bank of England governor Mark Carney at the launch of the note.
"The new10 pound note celebrates Jane Austen's work.Austen's novels have a universal appeal and speak as powerfully today as they did when they were first published," he said.
One billion new tenners have now been printed to start appearing in cash machines and banks across the UK.
The first note with the serial number AA01 0000001 was presented to Queen Elizabeth II, with Prince Philip receiving the second and British Prime Minister Theresa May the third.
On the front of the new note is the portrait of the Queen as well as Winchester Cathedral, Jane Austen's final resting place, in gold-coloured foil over a see-through window.
On the reverse of the note is the English author's portrait with a quotation from her best known work, 'Pride and Prejudice', which reads: "I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading."
The line is an irony, attributed in the novel to the character Caroline Bingley who in fact had no interest in books and was merely trying to impress Mr Darcy.
Collectors are keen to acquire new notes with low serial numbers, beginning AA01, as well as the one that has Austen’s birthday, 16 12 1775, and her death, 18 07 1817.
The Bank of England is planning an official auction on October 6 of new notes with low serial numbers.
A similar auction last year of the new 5 pound notes with low and interesting serial numbers raised 194,500 pounds.
Scotland, which issues its own notes, will launch its new notes in the coming weeks.
The Bank of England had announced last month that it would continue using its new polymer notes that contain traces of tallow, made from animal fat, despite objections from vegetarian and religious groups in the country.
The central bank had launched a public consultation on the material following protests, including by Hindu groups – some of whom had banned the new notes from UK temples.
However, its report into the consultation had concluded that alternatives to the polymer notes, such as palm oil, were not viable and also far more expensive.
"The use of palm oil raises questions about environmental sustainability and the Bank's suppliers have been unable to commit to sourcing the highest level of sustainable palm oil at this time. Value for money was also a consideration in the Bank's decision," the bank said in a statement.
Polymer banknotes are used in over 30 countries.
It emerged during the bank's research that plastic containing animal fat is also used in debit and credit cards, mobile phones, cosmetics, soaps, household detergent bottles and car parts.
A new polymer 20-pound note featuring British artist JMW Turner is due to be issued by the Bank of England in 2020.
There are no plans to replace the current paper 50-pound note, which was released in 2011.