Hay Internment Camp 1941 5/- Canteen Coupon Booklet - Unique in Private Hands
This coupon booklet contains one of each of the following coupons: 1d; 2d; 3d and 4d
Ex Peter E. Williams Collection. Lot #2974, Noble Numismatics Auction 74 (November 2003). Estimate: $1,000, Hammer: $7,100, Nett: $8,271.50
This booklet is a unique memento of the economic lifeblood of Australia's WWII internment camps.
The Context for Internment in Australia During WWII
Britain was under a great deal of strain in the opening stages of World War II - not only was success against Germany on the battlefields of Europe uncertain but there was genuine concern that Hitler’s forces may one day arrive on British shores.
The Home Secretary took steps to ensure that a “fifth column” of German spies was not able to spring into action should Germany succeed in invading Britain. Prime among them was the deportation of many thousands of refugees and “aliens” from Germany, Austria and elsewhere.
In July 1940, one load of deportees was deported to Australia via the “HMT Dunera”, with the intent that they were interned at “Camp Seven” within an internment camp run by the Australian Military, near the Southern NSW town of Hay. The HMT Dunera landed in Sydney after a traumatic ocean crossing on September 6th, 1940. The internees were immediately placed on a train to Hay, they arrived there on September 7th, 1940.
Although early Australian newspaper reports portrayed the internees as being “dangerous”, historical records show that far from being cold-blooded spies, many of the men interned at Hay were trained in a truly wide variety of professions; crafts and trades. Also among the internees were businessmen, students, teachers, and artists.
Once settled in camp, this fairly civilized group of men set about making the best of the spartan conditions imposed upon them. They quickly established an internal administration, organized sporting, and religious activities as well as artistic distractions such as a theatre & orchestra.
As a precaution against bribery of the guards, internees were prohibited from having access to money of any kind. To facilitate life within the camp, leaders produced a series of three “banknotes” that could be used at the canteen, theatre, and elsewhere within the camp. The editors of “The Dunera Affair” (one of the most comprehensive historical resource books on the Hay internees), state:
“One thing which cannot be overlooked is the remarkable ingenuity of the internees in devising a viable camp currency which was so successful that it brought down the wrath of the Australian Treasury. Although nearly all (Australian) internment and prisoner of war camps conducted their affairs using some kind of improvised scrip, that used at Hay was apparently so authentic and well designed that the Treasury was concerned this currency (could) be used outside the camp in the local community. The (printing) plates were confiscated by detectives from Sydney, and a new currency was soon introduced .” 
Despite the relatively modest intent behind the Hay Internment notes, they were actually only ever in use in the 11-week period between March 1st, 1941 and May 20th, 1941, when the internees that arrived via HMT Dunera were relocated elsewhere. 
The Official Currency of Australia's Internment Camps During WWII - Paper Coupons and Metallic Tokens
Early in April of 1941, the Australian Military administration had ruled that the notes produced by the internees were illegal and that they were to be withdrawn and destroyed. 
That same correspondence announced a system whereby the internment canteens could continue to operate, but payments would need to be made by coupons specially prepared by the Australian Defence Canteens Eastern Command, based at Randwick in Sydney.
The coupons were to be issued to internees in books of either 5 shillings total value, or 10 shillings total value. The only book that remains available to collectors today contains one example of each of the four denominations issued - 1d (one penny); 2d (twopence); 3d (threepence) and 4d (fourpence). The booklet still holds the stubs for 5 of each of the denominations, which means when it was issued, it contained the following:
|Denomination||Colour||# Included||Sub Total|
|1 Penny||Blue / Gray||6||6 Pence|
|2 Penny||Pale Pink||6||12 Pence|
|3 Penny||Yellow||6||18 Pence|
|4 Penny||Deep Pink||6||24 Pence|
Although the coupon system ensured payments within Australia's internment camps were now made under the absolute authority of the Australian military, official correspondence shows that issuing, exchanging, and then cancelling the paper coupons proved to be “...very cumbersome and unsatisfactory”.
In July of 1942, the Secretary of the Department of the Army (F R Sinclair) contacted the Department of the Treasury for “the production of metal tokens for use as currency in Prisoners of War and Internee Camps.”  Further military correspondence shows that the request was approved by Treasury later in the same month.
The Department of the Army formally announced the metallic token system in March 1943, which remained in use until the end of the war. 
If we operate on the dates outlined above, we can see that the printed coupons were in use for around 660 days [May 14th 1941 through to March 5th 1943], and the metallic tokens were in use for around 912 days [March 5th 1943 through to the surrender of the Japanese on September 2nd 1945].
Research by Nik Sharplin has shown that at the end of WWII, at least 745 of the Five Shilling tokens were still unaccounted for. 
The book of canteen coupons offered here has remained unique in private hands since it was first publicly offered for sale by Noble Numismatics in November 2003.
It remains a unique memento of the economic lifeblood of Australia's WWII internment camps.
 Paul R. Bartrop with Gabrielle Eisen; "The Dunera Affair : A Documentary Resource Book", Schwartz & Wilkinson [and] The Jewish Museum of Australia, South Yarra, 1990
 James; Tony, “Paper Currency of the Hay Internment Camps 7 & 8, 1940 - 1941" in The Australasian Coin & Banknote Magazine.
 Bulluss; Max, “The Hay Internment Camp Notes” in the Australian Coin Review, August 1993, p 30.
 Sharplin; Nik, "AUSTRALIAN WWII POW & INTERNMENT CAMP ISSUES" in the NAA Journal, 2005, p111.
 Military Correspondence (489/1/1821) - AMF Eastern Command to Group Commandant, Internment Camps EC Hay, 16/6/1941
 Sharplin; Nik, "AUSTRALIAN WWII POW & INTERNMENT CAMP ISSUES" in the NAA Journal, 2005, p114.
Standard Shipping - $9.00
Signature is required on delivery
Express Shipping - $15.00
Signature is required on delivery
Free pick-up from store - $0.00
You're welcome to collect your order from our office (Shop 22; 27-35 William Street; Fremantle; 6160) during normal office hours. Please make sure to check we're open before you head on in!
We unconditionally guarantee the authenticity, title and grade of every item we sell. The tax invoices we supply ensure that you have these guarantees in writing.
Please review our Website Terms and Conditions for a complete explanation of the guarantees we provide.
All items ship within 24 hours of confirmed payment being received.
Please review our Website Terms and Conditions for a complete explanation of our availability guarantee.
All orders are delivered via trackable and insured mail at a flat rate of $9 for orders within Australia, and $25 internationally.
Australia Post Parcel Post within Australia can take up to 1 week to arrive, while EMS / ECI international mail can take up to 3 weeks.
Urgent orders can be sent via Australia Post Express Mail at special request.
Please review our Website Terms and Conditions for a complete explanation of our delivery guarantee.
Be The First To Review This Product!
Help other Sterling & Currency users shop smarter by writing reviews for products you have purchased.