Take note: Scottish pounds which are worth a fiver

ASSUMING you can find one, how much is a Scottish pound note worth? Well, if you live on the other side of the Atlantic, almost a fiver.

A US-based collector recently paid 47 plus postage for 10 crisp Royal Bank of Scotland 1 notes as a brisk international trade in the rarely-seen denomination takes off.

The bank, the only one still printing the notes in Scotland, has revealed 16 million paper 1s are in circulation but are rarely seen outside of markets and the islands. The rest, it would appear, are being snapped up by collectors in anticipation of the bank eventually ceasing production.

Last Friday, an English-based eBayer paid 3.97, including 50p package and postage, for a used 1990s RBS note.

Strangely, new Scottish 1 notes are selling for higher prices than their English equivalents, production of which ceased in 1984. A sequence of 10 1 English notes, printed in 1981, sold last month on eBay for a modest2.50 each.

Robert Murray, an Edinburgh-based stamp and banknote dealer, said: "I run regular online auctions for banknotes, and I now find a lot of overseas interest, mostly from the countries with a strong Scottish connection. By international standards, Scottish notes are attractively designed and there is a market for them."

Les Chapman, the chairman of the Scottish Notes Society, said: "People are now hoarding the notes as souvenirs, many will be at the bottom of drawers, because people receive a note, they think: 'You don't see these so much any more,' and they keep them. I usually sell notes to other collectors in the UK, but I am just about to send some to Hong Kong and just posted some to Brazil."

According to RBS, there are currently an estimated 16 million of their pound notes in circulation, having fallen from 22 million in 2001. A spokeswoman said 1 notes were only printed as and when the bank saw fit. The last batch was produced in 2001.

She added: "We are the only bank to issue 1 notes and have no plans to change this."

Even so the 1 note remains a fiscally endangered species. There are 138 million 1 coins in Scotland, together with 1.4bn 5 notes, and a staggering 5.8 billion 10 notes.