The wealthy spendthrift lighting his cigar with a £5 note was a figure once encountered in fiction, if not in real life. The gesture was not necessarily, however, an heroic extravagance. A Bank of England note need not be invalid even if extensively damaged, and the reckless cigar-smoker could well have obtained full value for his note if he had preserved the charred remains with sufficient care and subsequently made an application for payment at the Bank's counter. Indeed, in those days, If he had taken the precaution of jotting down the note's serial number beforehand, he might perhaps have been able to obtain payment for it even though it had been entirely reduced to ashes.
Published on 01 September 1963
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