Sunday, July 19, 2009

Australian Banknotes 1914 to 1966

From about 1820 to 1913 Australian paper currency had been the domain of private banks that issued their own distinctive styles of bank notes.

However, from 1914 onwards, the Australian Government assumed the responsibility of issuing official Commonwealth of Australia banknotes and up until the advent of decimal currency in 1966, a wide variety was produced.

The currency consisted mainly of ten shilling, one pound, five pound and ten pound notes but there were rarer issues between 1914 and 1922 that included amounts for twenty, fifty and one hundred pounds.

1918 ten shilling note signed by Collins and Allen
(Click on image to enlarge)

These pre-decimal Australian banknotes constituted some of the more artistic and finely crafted currency around at the time and are now highly collectable, with well-preserved examples fetching high prices in numismatic trading.

1928 ten shilling note signed by Riddle and Heathershaw(Click on image to enlarge)

1936 ten shilling note signed by Riddle and Sheehan
(Click on image to enlarge)

One of the highest price banknotes from this era is the very rare “Rainbow Pound” which was an emergency World War One issue printed in 1915. So called because of its blue and orange colour scheme it proved to be easily forged and was withdrawn from circulation after little more than a year. Today a specimen in reasonable condition will fetch in excess of $60,000.

1918 pound note signed by Cerutty and Collins
(Click on image to enlarge)

1927 pound note signed by Riddle and Heathershaw(Click on image to enlarge)

1941 five- pound note signed by Armitage and McFarlane
(Click on image to enlarge)

1943 ten- pound note signed by Armitage and McFarlane(Click on image to enlarge)

Decimal currency replaced these distinctive banknotes in 1966, introduced by the cartoon character "Dollar Bill" who sang to the tune "Click Go the Shears"

In come the dollars and in come the cents
to replace the pounds and the shillings and the pence.
Be prepared folks when the coins begin to mix
on the 14th of February 1966.

You can see Dollar Bill advertisement, produced by the Commonwealth Film Unit, here:

An interesting type of currency that was planned for Australia but never instituted was the so called “Japanese Occupation Money” that was printed in Japan and was to be used in all countries captured by Japan during World War Two.

In Australia it was intended to use a Japanese version of pounds and shillings, to mirror the existing currency. In this example, (above) a Centavo was planned for use in the Philippines.

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