Historic Paper Currency Notes from Before Federation

Pre-Federation Banknotes image

Banks of Issue Book

The paper money used by the average Australian citizen between settlement in 1788 and the early 1900’s was vastly different to that which we have in place today - it was issued by each of the trading banks that were in business at that time.

The History Behind Australian Pre-Federation Notes

Australian prefederation notes played an important role in the development of Australia's economy and financial system, between initial settlement in 1788 and circulatin through to the early 1900s. The significance of pre-federation Australian banknotes in numismatic collections cannot be overstated

Australian Currency Before 1901


These notes represent a unique period in Australia’s monetary history when many banks were individually responsible for their own notes. The designs were often intricate and included symbols and motifs that have come to be recognized as distinctively Australian. Pre federation banknotes are highly sought after among collectors due to their rarity and historical value.

They serve as tangible reminders of an important period in our nation’s past.

Australian banknotes printed from 1901 onwards are much more common due to the introduction of federal paper money following Federation and the introduction of decimal currency. The design of those notes, post-federation, was heavily influenced by English currency, but they still feature certain elements unique to Australia’s own culture and history. 

Australian pre federation banknotes remain highly prized among numismatists, due to their distinct characteristics and historical significance and are keenly sought by patriotic / parochial collectors from the areas their notes were used. They serve as tangible reminders of a period in our nation’s past that shaped its economic future through private banking initiatives and provincial governments, a wonderful addition to any collection.

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Our staff have written a number of detailed articles on the many different kinds of pre-federation banknotes that we handle, a number of them have been published in the Coin and Banknote magazine. We've also written a number of articles to help collectors on their way to building a collection of banknotes that has real meaning and lasting value.

Some of the articles we've published include:

Australia's Pre-Federation Banknotes - A Rich and Complex Series

The Federal Bank of Australia - “The Most Famous And Most Notorious Of All Boom Institutions”

The Western Australian Bank (1841 - 1927) Underwritten by Parochialism