Australia 1996 ~ 2013 Securency Test Note Pick#S1X1 Rembrandt / Picasso Uncirculated
Front: Portrait of Rembrandt Harmenszoon facing right, with his painting "Christ in the Storm on the Lake of Galilee" at left. Title at top; dates below.
Back: Portrait of Pablo Picasso facing, title above and date below.
Measurements: 152mm * 75mm
This is a rare and exclusive test note, one of only a few seen on the open market.
This particular note is believed to have been prepared as a test note by Securency - the entity created to produce and market polymer substrate products to countries around the world.
Securency was formed as a joint venture between the Reserve Bank of Australia and the UCB Group in 1996, full control of Securency was assumed by Innovia (UCB Group under a new name) in 2013.
Just What Was It Printed And Used For?
When I first came across an example of this interesting note in an auction in Europe, I could tell that it obviously wasn’t an actual Australian currency note, however it had clearly been officially printed - my question was, just what was it printed and used for? I had no idea why Rembrandt was chosen for the design, however it sure seemed interesting.
It turns out that bank note printers and cash management companies show their expertise by printing currency samples, and that these are broadly referred to in numismatic circles as currency test notes or promotional currency notes.
The 3 Different Categories of Test Note
1. Promotional Currency Notes: The most common category of currency test notes are printed to showcase printing technology and anti-counterfeiting measures, and are generally distributed at international currency trade shows to potential printing customers.
2. ATM Test Notes: A second category of currency test notes are printed to test acceptance of a new series of notes by ATMs and currency counting machines; as well as to enable banks and cash handling firms to practice handling new types of note.
3. Durability Test Notes: The rarest category of test notes are those printed by banknote printers to test the printing and durability of different substrates, inks and security devices.
In the absence of any information to the contrary, at the time I bought this note, I believed it had a shot at being in the third category, mainly because the reverse of the note had only been partially printed.
I couldn’t see Note Printing Australia handing out partially-printed notes to potential customers as samples - surely they would’ve waited until the intaglio phase (the raised black lines showing the main design) was run across the reverse of the note if that’s what they were using them for?
Three Different Types
My hunch that these test notes were printed to test the durability of the clear (blue) window was heightened by the fact there were 3 different types, each with a different intaglio print on the clear window:
1. Painter’s palette;
2. Round dot; and
3. Portrait of Rembrandt.
I’ve since identified a total of about 10 different examples of the test notes, a mix of the different clear window types.
That makes them slightly more readily available than I would’ve expected, and given the fact they’re all still in mint condition, without information from people that were directly involved in their production, it’s hard to determine whether they were in fact printed for to test the durability of the different clear windows, or whether they were simply printed as promotional notes.
Either way, they’re scarce and definitely of interest to note collectors down under - if you have any sort of polymer note collection, I believe a test note such as this would be a great addition.
This particular example has a clear blue coloured window with paintbrushes and palette as an intaglio feature inside - this is the security device that varies from note to note, and may have been the factor being tested.
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