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Commonwealth Banknotes

Posted on: Feb, 02/28/2014

The appearance of several blank one pound notes in a series of auctions between 1980 and 2013 raised a number of questions - first among them for me was, just what are they? Unexplained oddities such as these are one of the truly rewarding areas of Australian numismatics, a bit of legwork can go a long way in turning an oddball item into one that’s highly prized. These unissued one pound note forms draw in a number of different sections of Australian numismatics - specimen notes, error / variety notes, the switch from the reasonably large Harrison series notes down to the smaller Legal Tender notes, as well as the numismatic pandemonium that surrounded the abdication of King Edward VIII in 1936.

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Posted on: Jan, 01/14/2014

The Unissued Type Two One Thousand Pound Specimen note is one of Australia’s most important currency notes - it is by far the highest denomination in the Australian monetary system, it is unique in private hands, it may well have a provenance linking it to Australia’s transition to central reserve banking, and easily ranks among Australia’s most valuable numismatic items.

Australia Type Two One Thousand Pound Specimen Note

 In...

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Posted on: Nov, 11/11/2013

Britain was under a great deal of strain in the opening stages of World War II - not only was success against Germany on the battlefields of Europe not guaranteed, but there was genuine concern that Hitler’s forces may one day arrive on British shores.

The Home Secretary took steps to ensure that a “fifth column” of German spies was not able to spring into action should Germany succeed in invading Britain, prime among them was the deportation of many thousands of refugees and “aliens” from Germany, Austria and elsewhere.

One load of deportees was sent via the “Dunera” to be interned at “Camp Seven”, near the Southern NSW town of Hay. Although early Australian newspaper reports portrayed the internees as being “dangerous”, historical records show that far from being cold blooded spies, many...

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Posted on: Jan, 01/21/2013

The Provincial and Surban Bank (P&S Bank) opened for business on November 26th, 1872 at 165 Smith Street in Collingwood (Melbourne, Victoria). Three years of poor results right from the outset meant that a portion of the P&S Bank's capital had to be written off not long after it was established.

Provincial and Suburban Bank Five Pound Note

Management then changed to Mr Richard Willis, a gentleman who until that stage in his career had apparently been a cordial manufacturer. With a background such as that, it is perhaps unsurprising that it was proven later that Willis was "ignorant of even...

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Posted on: Nov, 11/29/2012

The Western Australian Bank (WAB) was established under a deed of settlement in Perth on June 23rd, 1841 by a small number of influential pastoralists and merchants in the Swan River Colony that were shareholders in the Bank of Western Australia (BWA). The first directors of the WAB included George Shenton Senior and Edward Hamersley Senior.WA Bank Prospectus

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Posted on: Aug, 08/08/2012

To many collectors, 2013 marks a hundred years since Australia’s first notes were issued. The “Treasury” series of Commonwealth notes have long been regarded by the vast majority of Australian note collectors as the first notes issued by Australia’s Commonwealth government.

Knowledgable collectors are aware that the Treasury notes are not the first - the Type I superscribed notes that were issued from 1910 is the first series of Australian notes issued under the authority of the Commonwealth government.

Our superscribed series notes are misunderstood and under-appreciated by the majority of Australian note collectors for a number of reasons:

  • Their appearance is very...
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Posted on: Sep, 09/21/2010

The general public today is quite used to seeing our notes printed with uniform serial numbers - nearly all Australian notes issued since 1988 feature a four-digit prefix and a six-digit serial number. Australians in the early 1900's had no such luxury, as there were 10 different varieties of the ten-shilling note alone in Australia's first decade of a national paper currency.

The Commonwealth Treasury initially underestimated the economic demand for Australia's currency notes, and the level of their underestimation can be seen in the numerous changes to the serial numbering format of Australia's first notes. Mick Vort-Ronald is undoubtedly Australia's pre-eminent author on banknotes, and on page 46 in his definitive work “Australian Banknotes”, he observes that Australia's ten-shilling...

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Posted on: Sep, 09/09/2010

Most collectors working towards a complete type set of pre decimal notes start at the easiest end and work back – from the more readily available Queen Elizabeth (QEII) notes from the 1960’s to those issued before World War I.

The first really tough note these collectors come across is the Gold Bearing Ten Pound of the 1920’s – all of the QEII notes, King George VI notes and smaller denominations in the Gold Bearing series may be sourced with patience, while the total number of ten pound notes from the Treasury and Gold Bearing series is so small that some collectors will take them in any condition they can get.

Reserve Bank of Australia records indicate that by October 23rd...

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Posted on: Feb, 02/02/2009

On the 6th of June in 1923, the first of Australia’s new “Harrison” or “gold bearing” series banknotes were issued into circulation. Shortly after the notes were released, Treasury decided to alter the design of the front of the note very slightly by removing the name of the person responsible for engraving the printing plates. Unfortunately, the general public wasn’t informed of this minor change, and there was something of a panic - many folks simply refused to accept them.

Research by the eminent numismatist, Dr Alan Nicholson, has shown that at the same time Treasury decided upon this change, they had also identified a potential problem - some of the serials being used on the new notes had actually already been used on the Type I Superscribed £1 notes, issued between 1910 and 1914. This could...

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