History Of Australian Banknotes
Our story begins shortly after British convict settlement in the Colony of New South Wales in 1788. A major problem in the Colony was the on-going scarcity of coinage, partly because the need was underestimated when the First Fleet set sail, and partly because visiting traders, having been paid, sailed away with it! At the time a mish-mash of coins from all over the world was circulating in the Colony. Some stores and merchants were issuing promissory notes, which took on the role of a de-facto currency. However, regulation was clearly needed as they were easily forged, and unscrupulous traders could issue worthless notes with no monetary backing. (One noted publican used to roast his notes in an oven to render them brittle!).
In 1817 Governor Macquarie established the Bank of New South Wales - it is argued that this saved the Colony from ruin - and Pre-Federation notes were born. Over the next 100 years, dozens of private banks were allowed to produce notes - but too few have survived and are much sought after.
By 1901, when the States united together in Federation, gold sovereigns were in full production, following the discovery of gold in the 1850©s.Three separate Mints had already been established, but it took 12 years to begin paper currency production. In the meantime, stocks of notes from various prominent Banks were acquired and over printed with official Government lettering, resulting in what we call ©Superscribed© notes. Finally, in May 1913, production of ten shilling (10/-) notes began, followed by the £1, £5, £10, and £20, £50, £100 in 1914. A number of £1000 notes were produced, but are almost extinct, and I don©t know of any in private hands.
© 1999 - 2003 The Right Note.
Richard E. Fahy AFAIM AFAMI