ONE POUND 1932 Riddle/Sheehan
Thin signature of H. J. Sheehan
Reference #: R 27b
Serials: K/88 946962
A superb crisp and original note issued during the depths of the Great Depression.
Harry John Sheehan was appointed to the role of Commonwealth Treasury Secretary following the retirement of James Heathershaw on April 29th, 1932.
These were challenging times for Australia - the Great Depression had taken grip of the national economy, driving unemployment and poverty to unforseen heights. Treasury's responsibilities to manage the national debt and credit were fundamental to ensuring that Australians were able to return to gainful employment as quickly as possible.
Sheehan assumed responsibility for the Commonwealth Treasury just two months after the Lang NSW State Government stated it was not able to repay overseas bond holders around £1,000,000 in debt that had fallen due. Despite that upheaval, within 3 months of Sheehan's appointment, Treasury was able to report to the Australian public however that the Commonwealth had generated a surplus for 1932 to the tune of £1,321,000.
A further however relatively minor complication following Sheehan's appointment was his concern over the size of his signature on the new notes. Sir Ernest Riddle had been the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank since 1927, and was highly regarded in his role. Sheehan was concerned that the appearance of their signatures on the new notes was not balanced, and instructed the staff of the Note Printing Branch to reduce the appearance of his own signature, so they appeared even and level.
This relatively minor but still quite visible adjustment split the already restricted production run of £1 notes during the Great Depression into two distinct and smaller batches.
This particular note retains crisp and original paper - it is a complete marvel how an item with such high purchasing power during times of economic crisis can remain unhandled some nine decades after it was printed.
Numismatic items such as this truly are blue-chip - their rarity and history is beyond question, when seen in such magnificent quality as this, they are keenly sought by discerning collectors on those few occasions they are offered on the open market.
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