One lucky Melton shopper could be in line for a Christmas windfall of £20,000 thanks to a Willy Wonka-style stunt.
Graham Short, one of the world’s best small engravers, has etched a 5mm portrait of author Jane Austen on five new £5 notes, which he has then secretly spent across the UK.
The only one placed into circulation in England was given over the counter by Mr Short at the Dickinson and Morris Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe in Nottingham Street on Friday.
His designs have previously sold for between £50,000 and £100,000 but he conservatively estimates the micro-engraved five pound note to have a value of £20,000.
It is possible that a customer who received change in the pork pie shop may still have the note in a wallet or purse or it may still be in one of the tills.
Mr Short (70) said: “As I enjoy pork pies I thought where better to spend the English note than in Melton Mowbray?
“Now, I’m just hoping someone finds it in time to get some extra money for Christmas.”
He decided to engrave Jane Austen on the notes because it is the 200th anniversary of her death.
The portrait shows her encircled by a famous quote on the transparent section to the right of Big Ben.
Mr Short added: “I’m always looking to do something different and as soon as I saw the new £5 note I thought ‘wouldn’t it be good if I could engrave something on it?’.
“I’ve no idea how much they will be worth but £20,000 is a conservative estimate. Previous pieces I’ve done have been insured for more than £50,000 and the last work, the portrait of HM The Queen on the eye of a needle, fetched £100,000.”
The aim of the stunt was to put some of Short’s art back into the hands of ordinary people.
He has appeared on television around the globe after capturing the public’s imagination with his engraving of miniature art on to items such as a razor blade edge, pinhead, brass screw, football stud and Stephen Fry’s fountain pen.
His art requires incredible dedication and skill. He only works between midnight and 5am, when traffic vibrations are at their most limited and he can bring his heart-rate down to 30 beats per minute, as he engraves between beats. He even has botox injections and binds his right arm to a chair to reduce body movement.
The engraved limited edition fiver spent in Melton carries the following quote from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, “I hope I never ridicule what is wise or good,” and has the serial number AM32 885554.
Did you shop in the Dickinson and Morris Pork Pie Shoppe in Melton on Friday? Let us know if you have checked your wallet or purse if you received change? Call us on 01664 412520.