1st Generation Polymer Specimen Banknote Set (5 Notes, $5 - $100)
An incredibly rare set of polymer specimen notes, presented to the inaugural Chairman of NPA.
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Matched Presentation Set of Australian "First Generation" Polymer Specimen Banknotes
Contains 5 Notes, $5 - $100:
1992 Fraser / Cole $5 Polymer Specimen note - Specimen # 21
1993 Fraser / Evans $10 Polymer Specimen note - Specimen # 21
1994 Fraser / Evans $20 Polymer Specimen note - Specimen # 21
1995 Fraser / Evans $50 Polymer Specimen note - Specimen # 21
1996 Fraser / Evans $100 Polymer Specimen note - Specimen # 21
An incredibly rare set of polymer specimen notes, presented to the inaugural Chairman of Note Printing Australia.
This set of Australia’s “First Generation” of polymer specimen banknotes was presented to John Phillips, a former Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia. Phillips was a signatory on Australia’s paper decimal banknotes for 2 months in 1989, and was also the first Chairman of the Board of Note Printing Australia.
Very few individuals have been presented with a single polymer specimen banknote, far fewer maintained their importance and relevance to the Reserve Bank of Australia over the decade that Australia’s “First Generation” of polymer notes were released, such that they received a specimen of each and every denomination.
As the inaugural Chairman of Note Printing Australia, John Phillips can clearly be counted among those important and respected banking identities.
Only three other complete sets of “First Generation” polymer specimen notes with matched serial numbers are known in private hands.
This set is an incredibly rare snapshot of Australian innovation, presented at a time when the pioneering technology behind Australia’s polymer notes was gaining the trust of central banks around the world. Auction results indicate that the complete sets of presentation specimen notes with matched serials are two to four times rarer than any of the individual specimen notes they contain.
John Phillips - "The Central Banker's Central Banker"
John Phillips has been described as being “centrally involved in some of the most important pieces of financial deregulation in Australia.” Not only was Phillips a signatory on Australia’s paper decimal banknotes for 2 months in 1989 (the only Deputy Governor of the RBA to have signed Australia’s notes), he was also the first Chairman of the Board of Note Printing Australia.
Intimately Involved in Many Key Decisions in the ’80s and Early ’90s
Mervyn John Phillips was born on April 1st, 1930 in Summer Hill (Sydney). At the age of 16, he accepted a job with the Commonwealth Bank, and studied economics at the University of Sydney at night. As Phillips had been working as an an agricultural economist  at the Commonwealth, when it was split into the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and the Commonwealth Banking Corporation in 1960, Phillips continued his employment with the RBA.
Phillips is credited as being involved in many of the RBA’s biggest achievements over the space of his career. Following his passing, former RBA Governor Ian Macfarlane stated that Phillips “… was the principle source of expertise on how the Australian foreign exchange market worked. He knew all the steps that had to be taken (to float the dollar) and everyone depended on his advice.” Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens also stated that Phillips was “intimately involved in many key decisions in the ’80s and early ’90s, including leading the bank’s detailed preparations for the float of the Australian dollar”.
Phillips was appointed Deputy Governor of the RBA in 1987, and was the Acting Governor for three months in 1989. In February 1990, he was appointed as the inaugural Chairman of the Board of Note Printing Australia .
Phillips retired from NPA and the RBA in 1992, and is said to have been presented with a plaque by the Bank of England that read: "John Phillips, one of the great central bankers' central bankers". After leaving the RBA, Phillips went on to become chairman of AGL, deputy chairman of Woolworths, chairman of IBJ Australia and deputy chairman of QBE. He also served as the chairman of the Foreign Investment Review Board for 15 years, and acted as the Chancellor of the University of Western Sydney until 2010.
Phillips gave his time and support to a wide range of educational, community, religious and charitable organisations. His service was recognised by the Commonwealth Government when he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2004, and also by the Catholic Church when he received a knighthood from the Pope - the Knighthood of the Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great.
Phillips is often described as having had deeply-held values, and was lauded for his leadership, integrity and service. In an address to students at the University of NSW in March 2013, Phillips advised them to “Keep honesty, objectivity and fairness to others as your watchwords.”
Each of the notes in Phillips’ set of “First Generation” polymer presentation specimens remain in the official coloured folders prepared by NPA. The notes and folders are accompanied by the original letter written to Phillips in 1992 by RBA Governor Bernie Fraser.
This set is an incredibly rare snapshot of Australian innovation, presented at a time when the pioneering technology behind Australia’s polymer notes was gaining the trust of central banks around the world.
 Nugget, Pike, et al. “The role of the Reserve Bank of Australia in
Papua New Guinea's decolonisation”, ANU, Canberra, 1998, p353
 Vort-Ronald; Mick, "Australian Decimal Banknotes", Self-Published, Adelaide, 1993, p 122.