British Museum collections, £12.99
Length: 155.000 mm
Width: 78.000 mm
Lent by the Reserve Bank of Australia
Coins and Medals
Australia, AD 1988
Commemoration and innovation in a modern banknote
This note was issued by the Reserve Bank of Australia to mark the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the first European settlers. Designs on the note celebrate the variety of cultures within the country. One side depicts the ship Supply and a group of people against a view of the early British settlement at Sydney Cove. The other side of the note portrays elements of Aboriginal culture, including ancient rock painting, an Aboriginal youth and a ceremonial Morning Star Pole. Background patterns are taken from designs specially commissioned from Aboriginal artists.
The note is also unusual because it is not made of paper. There had been earlier experiments with plastic notes, in Haiti and the Isle of Man, but this Australian note is printed on a polymer material developed after many years of research. All Australian notes are now made of polymer.
F. Carey (ed.), Collecting the 20th century, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)