First and Last Prefix Banknotes - Making the Generic Specific

No two collectors are the same. Some are happy to add any note with value or significance to their collection, while others are very specific and selective with the notes they collect or buy. Often it comes down to seeking out something exclusive that no-one else has.

Since the late 1990’s, collectors have focussed on first prefix and last prefix banknotes in a determined dash to find the rarest and most valuable notes in the best possible condition. For those collectors who want something truly rare, having the first and last prefix banknotes from the same print run is a prize worth chasing.

First and Last Prefix Banknotes Explained

A First Prefix $50 Note
A First Prefix Paper $50 Note

The prefix on an Australian banknote forms part of the serial number. When it comes to polymer notes, it is the first 2 letters on the banknote, followed by two digits that indicate the year - e.g. AA96 is a note printed in 1996 - and then the serial number that shows the order in which the notes were printed.

In the 1990’s when collecting rare prefixes became popular, the focus was firmly on first prefixes. Most of us in the numismatic community never even entertained the thought that last prefixes would also be rare and valuable.

Because the focus on collecting in this period was on the first prefix banknotes, the last prefix banknotes have become much more valuable in the years since then. Fewer people had set them aside in mint condition, so there are much fewer to go around.

A Rare Pair

Most collectors only ever Include standard prefix banknotes in theIr collection. First and last prefixes are a step up above the entry level collection.

AA98 $100 - 1st Prefix
AA98 $100 - 1st Prefix

So how do experienced and determined set their collectons apart from the pack? They do this by aiming for a collection that includes either the A note from the first of each print run; the last of each print run, or the first AND the last of each print run.

Two individual banknotes from the same print run, one a first prefix and one a last prefix, both in mint condition is a truly comprehensive approach to collecting.

CF98 $100 - Last Prefix
CF98 $100 - Last Prefix

Thinking Like a Collector

If you are new to collecting but have caught the bug, it’s important to start thinking like a collector.

The market has become more sophisticated over time. Serious collectors have become more discerning about what they will add to their collection. And it had become harder and harder to find mint condition rare items to collect. For many this is the appeal of collecting - the thrill of the chase.

A Last Prefix $50 Note
A Last Prefix Paper $50 Note

If you are happy to add any banknote of some value to your collection, that’s the way many collectors approach it. People collect for many reasons and none of them is more or less valid than another. But if you are someone who is seeking something exclusive, something that no-one else has, acquiring a range of first and last prefix banknotes from each print run is where it’s at.

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