Australia 1936 Ten Shillings Riddle / Sheehan R#11
Serials: D/79 608423
Front: Facing portrait of King George V
Back: Manufacturing scene
Ex Spink Auctions Sale #26 (November 1988), Lot number 2205. Described as "UNC", with a hammer price of $350 against a $250 estimate.
A superb example of this incredibly scarce note.
The Great Depression of 1929 brought about the end of the gold standard in Australia - all notes became "Legal Tender", meaning they couldn't be redeemed in gold coin at the Commonwealth Bank (the equivalent of the Reserve Bank back then).
The ten-shilling was the first "legal tender" denomination introduced into circulation (July 17th, 1933), and within a month there was an outcry - some members of the general public were confusing them with the £1 notes of the same basic design and size.
Losing ten bob then was a big deal - most people were lucky to have a job at all and it was equivalent to about half a day's wages.
To fix the problem, the government decided to print "TEN SHILLINGS" in red ink in the top, left and right borders, and they were introduced on April 13th, 1934.
This still wasn't a big enough difference for some, so the intaglio colour was changed to vivid orange in March of 1936.
Not only was the mintage of this note extremely low, but they also had such high purchasing power that most people had to spend them - they are nearly all seen in fairly low grade.
As the grade would indicate, this particular example is equal to the finest seen. It has fantastic paper quality, bold and original colours and is devoid of any flicks or folds.
My auction records indicate that this is one of just three R11's I've seen at auction in the past decade that I have graded UNC. (Check written auction records for that same period and you'll see more than that have been described by auctioneers as UNC, however, I've disagreed with several after physically examining them myself).
One of the other notes offered via auction made $9,165 via a Roxbury's auction in October 2010.
A few UNC pairs and trios were offered throughout 2008 and 2009, however, you'd have to go back much earlier than that to see another single R11 in true UNC at auction.
I believe the pre-decimal banknote market offers excellent value for money at the moment - this note is typical of the incredibly rare blue-chip items that are available at prices unseen for many years.
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