Surprise, surprise!

Earlier this week we had a telephone call. For once it wasn’t about “rare coins”, it was about rare baknotes. Proper, rare, banknotes.

White £5 notes are reasonably common, particularly from the 1930s to 1950s. From the 1890s they are quite rare, and the caller had discovered several in a tin when sorting through the effects of a deceased relative. They had left him several white Bank of England fivers and another from the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Banking Company.


£5 note – Nottingham & Nottinghamshire Bank 1897

Obviously, the tin had rusted a little over the last 122 years, and was too small to fit a banknote in without scrunching it up. Hopefully, with a little work and gentle pressing, they will look a bit better next time you see them. No matter how much work we do on them, we won’t be able to close up the holes, but that’s so often the way – rare notes but poor condition.

It was an interesting end to the day.

Earlier, I’d dropped Julia off at the garden and taken some mint to work. My stomach hasn’t really recovered from the events of last week, but several cups of mint tea seem to have produced a positive result.


My co-worker is troubled by the use of the words “mint tea” to describe boiling water poured on mint leaves. I know this because he brought the subject up several times. I actually checked it up. If you look up “tea” the internet tells you it’s a brewed drink using the leaves of Camellia sinensis. Look up “mint tea” and it tells you it’s a drink made from pouring boiling water on mint leaves. You can, of course, also call it a herb tea or a tisane.

Or you can get a life.

14 thoughts on “Surprise, surprise!

  1. jodierichelle

    Sorry – got caught up in the words and forgot to mention the bank notes. My first thought was that they need to be ironed – but I would be horrified if that were my job. Is there a protocol? Do you use a damp towel between the note and the iron? What do you use as a flat source to iron upon? There must be a lot of rules for this sort of thing.

    1. quercuscommunity

      A lot of it is down to personal preference. We are trying to flatten them naturally with very light pressure. Ironing can leave traces and messing with heat and moisture can cause problems. We are fortunate that Bank of England notes are made from high quality paper.

      Generally, collectors don’t like notes that have been messed about – but in this case with creases, holes and rust marks it might not worry them too much. 🙂

      1. jodierichelle

        Fascinating. It sounds like the rules are pretty much the same for all old, collectible things: Don’t mess them up and if they are messed up don’t try to fix them.

  2. jodierichelle

    Actually, I believe you and I would get on fine (as long as we didn’t eat anything in each other’s company – ever). This mint tea nonsense is just the sort of thing I walk away from. Let that co-worker stew incessantly about words. I love words and know that everyone uses them differently. And isn’t that just the fun of it all?

  3. Lavinia Ross

    There is always something new to learn here, Quercus! 🙂 We make our own mint tea in season. I have several varieties of spearmint, and orange mint.

    The bank notes are an interesting find!

  4. Laurie Graves

    The bank notes are a wonderful find. As for the naming of tea…I recently had a discussion about this with some friends, and we went beyond tea to include milk, cheese, and butter. i referred to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the standard for American English. With each word, the first definition was the traditional one: milk, butter, and cheese from mammals. Tea from Camellia sinensis. But the second definitions went on to include things such as herbal teas, nut cheeses and milk, and peanut butter, one of my favorites. I am, after all, American. 😉 Anyway, English is a language that regularly changes and expands, making it both maddening and wonderfully flexible at the same time.

    1. quercuscommunity

      We had a big debate in the UK about split infinitives and the opening of Star Trek. Reference to Fowler’s Modern Usage proved that even in the 1930s Fowler couldn’t see a problem with split infinitives – but modern pedants did. Just goes to show there’s always someone to pick faults where none exist. 🙂


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