1992 $5 Note Fraser/Cole R214 Uncirculated
This was the very Australian first polymer $5 note issued into circulation.
The pale polymer Fraser Cole five-dollar notes were first released into circulation in July 1992, just 4 years after the polymer Bicentennial $10 note.
The Reserve Bank of Australia was keen to ensure that the new $5 notes would survive whatever test the general public would put them to, so it was fortunate that the only controversies that surrounded the new notes were the designs on the notes, rather than the durability of the notes themselves.
Mainstream media articles show that many Australians thought that the Queen no longer had a place on our circulating currency and that Caroline Chisolm should be retained.
In an incredibly rare display of political solidarity, both the Labour Prime Minister Paul Keating and the Liberal Opposition Leader John Hewson both made public statements to that effect in Parliament.
A statement issued by the Reserve Bank Governor, Bernie Fraser, said "the bank had to weigh the traditions along with the 'possible but unquantifiable' changes in community attitudes in recent years. Having weighed up all those factors, the bank has judged it appropriate to hold to the earlier decision to depict the Queen on the $5 note in the new note series."
The politicians quickly moved onto other controversies, and the note circulated throughout Australia with few complaints in the following months. That peace didn't last long, as when the new blue $10 note was introduced in November of 1993, some sections of the community apparently found it difficult to distinguish between the $5 note and the $10 note.
In an effort to help those with limited vision, in April of 1995, the RBA adjusted the main simultan colour used in printing the polymer $5 note - the mauve was deepened and made more vivid. The RBA also took the opportunity to increase the size of the number 5 in the top right corner either side. The pale polymer $5 notes were also the last Australian notes to have a "random" serial prefix - all notes released after this one included the date as part of the serial number.
Really keen polymer note collectors now distinguish between the different shades of ink used to print the serial numbers of the R214 $5 notes printed between 1992 and 1995 - many are prepared to pay a significant premium for notes that have pale serial numbers.
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