1952 One Pound Coombs/Wilson R32S Uncirculated
Front: King George VI at right, window at left, the denomination with serials and signatures at the centre.
Back: Agricultural scene in bas-relief at the centre.
Signatories: H.C. (Nugget) Coombs as Governor of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia;
Period on Issue: April 1951 through to October 1953
Lot #1389, Roxbury's Auction (October 2015). Passed in at an estimate of $19,000
Lot #1017, International Auction Galleries Auction 92 (October 2020). Estimate: $12,000, Hammer: $10,000, Nett: $10,000
This is a premium example of one of Australia's rarest banknotes issued in the past century.
Note printing authorities in Australia decided to adopt the US system of using star replacement notes as substitutes for spoiled notes from September 1948. A memo to Commonwealth Bank staff advised them that: "Notes used for replacement purposes will have a five-pointed star in the position normally occupied by the last figure of the serial number."
The star replacement system made it easier for printing staff and tellers to check and count notes and brought about a considerable saving in time and labour costs. The star replacement notes from the King George VI series are amongst the rarest and most keenly-sought of all of Australia's pre-decimal banknotes.
Not only was the number of these notes printed incredibly low, but their survival rate is incredibly low also.
Dr Herbert Cole (Nugget) Coombs was Governor of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia between January 1st 1949 and January 13th 1960 and was then the inaugural Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia from the date of its establishment on January 14th 1960 until July 22nd 1968.
Sir Roland Wilson was Secretary to the Treasury between April 1st 1951 and October 27th 1968.
Coombs and Wilson is the last signature combination seen on Australian notes featuring King George VI. The total mintage was quite low not only due to the King's death in February 1952 but also because of the crash in wool prices in 1951 that followed the end of the Korean war.
If we review the quality of the R32s notes held in the most prominent and renowned collections of Australian pre-decimal banknotes, we can see how this particular note compares. (One comment on the following information - when reviewing auction results, it's not unusual at all to see the same note graded differently over a period of time. I've taken what I believe to be the most likely grade of the note based on what I know of the auction results being discussed) :
Dr Alan Nicholson - Dr Nicholson's note was graded as being good EF;
Mick Vort-Ronald - Mick held a consecutive pair in Uncirculated condition;
Deutscher - This incredible collection of Australian notes did not include an R32s in any condition;
Roy Brook - MVR auction records indicate that Roy Brook also held a consecutive pair in Uncirculated condition. Interestingly, this note is consecutive to that pair;
Caldwell - This is the most recent comprehensive collection of Australian banknotes to be auctioned, it had an Uncirculated note in it also.
The body of this particular note has remained firm, the edges are straight and the corners are sharp. The original brightness of the colours has endured, the note is devoid of any flicks, fold or bends.
It remains a premium example of one of Australia's pre-decimal banknote rarities. It is one of only 3 examples seen in this quality via auction for at least the past 5 years, and is equal to the finest known examples.
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