Saturday, June 7, 2008
Rare Early Australian Banknote
May 28, 2008
John Pettit, of John Pettit Rare Banknotes in Sydney, recently bought an example of Australia's first banknotes. Governor Macquarie opened Australia's first bank, the Bank of New South Wales, in 1817 and the 10-shilling note in John Pettit's possession is the only surviving note from the first day's trading. Pettit values it at about $1 million.
Pettit, a former architect who now specialises in buying and selling rare banknotes, says there is great interest in collecting early Australian banknotes, especially those from before Federation and the establishment of the Commonwealth Treasury. The first distinctive Australian notes were issued in 1913.
Fifty-seven banks issued notes in Australia from 1817 to 1910. Many went broke, some were swallowed up by competitors (bank amalgamations, like the proposed merger of St George and Westpac, are nothing new). The Bank of Newcastle, the Bank of North Queensland and the Derwent Bank (Hobart) have all disappeared but the notes they issued, professionally printed and sometimes beautifully designed, are now considered excellent investments.