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1910 One Pound Note Superscribed Collins Allen National Bank of Australasia RS50 about VF

1910 One Pound Note Superscribed Collins Allen National Bank of Australasia RS50 about VF

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A wonderful example of this historic and rare Australian note.

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Australia 1910 Superscribed One Pound Note

Host Form: National Bank of Australasia

Superscription Type: Variety C

Signatures: Collins / Allen

Reference Number: R# S50

Quality Grading: about VF


Ex "The North Queensland Hoard", Lot #2572, Downie's (Australian Coin Auctions) Auction 271 (March 2000). Estimate: $7,500, Hammer: $11,500, Nett: $13,225.

Lot #3160, Noble Numismatics Auction 100 (July 2012). Estimate: $9,500, Hammer: $9,000, Nett: $10,485.

A wonderful example of this historic and rare Australian note.

Many collectors mistakenly believe that the first banknotes issued by Australia's Commonwealth Government were the ten shilling notes printed in 1913. That is certainly not the case, as the superscribed series of notes were issued by the Commonwealth Treasury from October 1910.

The Commonwealth Treasury assumed control over Australia's circulating currency following years of criticism by the Labour Party of the free-market financial system. In Labour's opinion, the private banks "... were too vulnerable to collapse, that the banks were profiteering, and that their lending practices tended to be pro-cyclical (excessive in an upswing and too restrictionist in a slump).”

Within 90 days of being voted in, Andrew Fisher’s second Labour government passed two Acts that gave the Commonwealth a monopoly over the issue of notes in Australia. Once the relevant acts of legislation were passed, the public service moved quickly to bring national banknotes into reality. As can be imagined, a new national currency at the very least requires specialised printing machinery, as well as other planks of infrastructure, none of which the Commonwealth Government had ready access to at that time.

These significant challenges were apparently dismissed out of hand by Treasury officials - rather than go to the time and expense of designing and printing the new notes from scratch (a project that would have taken several years at least to complete successfully), Treasury officials were instead quite prepared to “overprint” existing banknotes - to superimpose an official design, endorsement and denomination on banknotes that had already been printed by a private bank.

Australia's first Commonwealth notes were printed from October 1910 and were issued from December 1910 - the note forms from no less than 17 different banks were used. By April 1912, the Commonwealth Treasury was aware that this wide range of different superscribed note designs increased the risk that counterfeit notes might enter circulation. To mitigate that risk, Treasury chose to use only the forms of the National Bank after that date: " has been decided by the Treasury that for the future and until the Commonwealth is in a position to employ its own special paper and dies, to use none but the notes bearing the name of the National Bank of Australasia."

By May 1913, the Commonwealth Government had the necessary printing equipment, supplies and expertise to print Australia's first uniform series of notes, which meant that the circulating superscribed notes could be retired with full confidence that they would be promptly replaced in circulation. The last superscribed notes were issued into circulation in April 1914, and were actively withdrawn from circulation after that.

They remain to this day Australia's first national currency notes, with an irreplaceable history.

Market Rarity:

44 superscribed one pound notes have been seen at auction in the past five years, 21 of those were part of the famed Caldwell Collection of Australian banknotes - arguably the second most comprehensive collections of these historic notes ever formed.

The vast majority of superscribed notes that remain available to collectors today have impediments of some kind - each is undoubtedly has the same rich history as those in better grade, however superscribed notes become far rarer (and definitely more valuable) when quality is a consideration. Of the 44 notes offered for sale via auction over the past 5 years, 27 of those were in significantly lesser quality than the note we offer here - many of those notes had obvious impairments such as holes, tears, stains or paper separation. Setting the famed Caldwell Collection aside, in our opinion, there has only been two superscribed notes better than this one sighted at public auction over the past five years.

Make no mistake, cheaper superscribed notes are periodically available - one could well be bought for less than $10,000 with a good degree of patience. Such a note would have a significant impairment such as missing corner or corners, a large hole or multiple tears.

Quality Description:

This particular superscribed one pound note is fresh and original, which is just remarkable when we consider the age of the note and the extent to which it would have circulated throughout World War I. The simultan colours remain bright, and all of the superscribed details remain sharp and distinct. The border areas are lightly toned, which is quite acceptable for a note graded about VF. The paper is devoid of any pinholes, and the edges remain intact right the way around.

This is a solid and rare example of Australia's first national currency notes.

Click here to read our article covering the entire background to Australia's first Commonwealth banknotes.