1927 Ten Pound Riddle/Heathershaw R#55 about Uncirculated
Serials: U/3 528620
Provenance: ex Alan Nicholson collection
Lot #1786, Noble Numismatics Auction 49b (July 1995). Estimate: $2,500, Hammer: $2,800, Nett: $3,220.
Lot #2078, Roxbury's Auction 96 (May 2016). Estimate: $16,000, Hammer: $14,000, Nett: $16,800.
A truly valuable reminder of the difficulty of saving during the Great Depression, from one of the most important collections of Australian notes ever formed.
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 1945, just 5,000 Treasury and Gold Bearing Ten Pound notes (of all types) were still outstanding.
No wonder collectors find them so difficult to obtain over half a century later.
(More information on this may be gained from page 204 of Mick Vort-Ronald’s definitive work “Australian Banknotes”.)
Significant Purchasing Power Right Throughout the Great Depression
Nominal wages records show that the average weekly wage in Australia ranged from £4 to £5 per week between 1927 and 1933. The total purchasing power of this pair of notes therefore equates to at least a month, if not five weeks. In current terms (late 2017), that equates to between $6,000 and $7,500. Very, very few families indeed would have had the wealth required to preserve that sum of money in ready cash during a time of unparalleled hardship, a time when unemployment exceeded 32%, and many families lost their homes as a result.
Amazing Paper Texture When Compared to Notes Issued More Recently
The first thing a collector notices when they first handle a Gold Bearing ten pound note is the texture of the paper - it is far different to notes printed in more recent years.
This difference is technically explained by the different Mean Double Fold (MDF) rating they have. Gold Bearing notes were printed on paper with a 1,500 MDF rating, whereas Australian notes printed from 1933 onwards had a 2,500 MDF rating, while our paper decimal notes had a 3,150 MDF rating. These technical figures at least show that the Gold Bearing notes were half as strong as our decimal notes. Paradoxically, that weakness doesn't seem evident when you handle a Gold Bearing note in premium grade however - they exhibit a strength and firmness to them that belies their technical rating.
The original broad weave in the paper of these notes lends a granular feel that is lost on lesser quality examples. Each retains plenty of snap, and all of the original simultan colours that are expected from the finest known notes of this type. These particular notes differ very slightly with respect to the grade allocated to them - a partial centre bend is evident in the first note in the pair.
Incredible Rarity In This Quality
A review of auction results over the past 4 decades shows that although an amazing run of 10 consecutive Ridddle Heathershaw £10 notes have come onto the market note by note over the years, it remains incredibly difficult to obtain in close to "mint" condition.
This particular note has strong paper, sharps corners and edges, and a lot of the weave that is particular to the paper used in the printing of this series of notes is proud and strong.
It remains an incredible store of value that harks back to one of the most difficult economic periods in Australia's history, and is from one of the most important collections of Australian notes ever formed.
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