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Australia Matched Set Leads Sale
By Kerry Rodgers, Bank Note Reporter
April 30, 2013

This article was originally printed in Bank Note Reporter.
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Commonwealth bank notes with 1000000 serial numbers are a popular—but expensive—collecting area in Australia. Their standing was well shown by the $67,750 paid for a matched set of three notes all bearing the magic 1000000 serial at International Auction Galleries’ March sale in Queensland.

The appeal of these notes among Australian collectors arises in large part from research undertaken by Judy Shaw,, and summarized succinctly by Greg McDonald in his Pocket Guide to Australian Coins and Banknotes.

For starters, just 1 million-numbered notes can occur for each serial prefix. That puts their rarity way ahead of star replacement notes that can come

in tens of thousands per prefix. Secondly, the numbering of each 1000000 note was done by hand. The numbering machines formerly used by the Commonwealth Bank Note Printing Branch were capable of imprinting the notes with six digits. To get the seventh a full uncut sheet of bank notes was printed bearing an appropriate range of prefixes along with the number 100000 on each note. The sheet was then cut into single notes on which the extra zero was printed one at a time using a hand press.

Each note was covered with a mask of pink paper the same size as the note. The 1000000 serial was then embossed on the mask without ink. A small square was then punched in the mask were the sixth zero was to go and the mask placed back over the note. The complete serial was now printed using an inked roller. Just the extra zero was printed on to the note through the hole in the mask.

The two-step numbering of 1000000-numbered notes can often be seen where the final zero is slightly misaligned.

The set sold by International Auction Galleries consisted of a 1916 10 shillings (P-33), a 1961 one pound (P-34), and a 1960 five pounds (P-35). Unusually, all the notes came with the original signed bank cards certifying the numbering of the notes in each bundle as of hand counts conducted in 1965. Their provenance, like their choice UNC grade, was superb: ex-Mick Vort-Ronald collection and Spink’s March 1988 sale, Vort-Ronald being the leading authority on Australian bank note facts and history.

Full catalog details and prices realized can be found at the International Auction Galleries website:


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