Volume 5 Issue 11                                                                                       November  2000.

Index For This Month:


TASMANIAN NUMISMATIC SOCIETY INC.

  • Anyone who wishes to apply for membership to our non-profit making organisation, and who is prepared to abide by the rules of the Society and its aim of promoting the study and enjoyment of the hobby of numismatics, should contact the following addresses for an application form and details of subscriptions :-
  • The Secretary,
    Tasmanian Numismatic Society, Inc.
    G.P.O. Box 884J.
    Hobart. Tasmania. 7001.
    Australia.
    Our members meet at 8.00 p.m. on the 2nd.Thursday of each month (except January), in our social rooms at the Masonic Club, 181 Macquarie St., Hobart. Tasmania. Visitors are always welcome!

    TASMANIAN NUMISMATIST.
    Any literary contributions or relevant and constructive comments regarding numismatics are always welcome and can be sent to the T.N.S. or directed to:

    The Editor,
    Tasmanian Numismatist.
    P.O.Box 10,
    Ravenswood. 7250. Tasmania.
    Australia.
    Internet Page: http://www.vision.net.au/~pwood/tns.html
    Email: pwood@vision.net.au
    The ‘Tasmanian Numismatist’ is published and distributed FREE, on a monthly basis, to members of the Tasmanian Numismatic SocietyInc. and selected associates and institutions. This publication is the only official newsletter of the ‘Tasmanian Numismatic Society Inc.’ and its aim is to promote the hobby of numismatics in an entertaining and enjoyable way, under the guidelines suggested by the executive committee of the T.N.S.
    All details of a commercial nature, organisations, items or individual arrangement to buy, sell or trade are provided as information only, and any consequent dealings are between the parties concerned.
    The ‘Tasmanian Numismatist’ takes no responsibility for disagreements between parties, and also reserves the right to only feature information that it considers suitable in promoting our hobby to our members under the guidelines suggested by the Society. Deadline for contributions or amendment to copy is 7 Days prior to the beginning of the month of publication.

    This newsletter and its contents are copyrighted ©, but anything herein (except as noted below) can be fairly used to promote the great hobby of numismatics; however, we do like to be asked by commercial interests if they wish to use any of our copy. Usually, we are not too hard to get on with - and, as long as you undertake to give credit to the author and the Tasmanian Numismatist’ we don’t mind too much!
    This permission, however, does not extend to any article specifically marked as copyrighted © by the author of the article. In the latter case, you must get explicit permission from the author either directly or through the ‘Tasmanian Numismatist’ to use that material.
    All opinions expressed in material published in this newsletter are those of the authors, and not necessarily those of the ‘Tasmanian Numismatic Society Inc.’ or the Editor.

    Index

    SOCIETY SNIPPETS.

  • This Editor was pleasantly surprised in mid-October to have a quick visit from Roger McNeice and fellow Society member Tom Williamson. Whilst the visit was of necessity only brief, it did give me a change to catch up on a little gossip and to hear about Tom's latest trip to the U.S.A. that he apparently enjoyed thoroughly.

  • What Tom didn't mention is the fact he was just about to celebrate a birthday - it would have been a case of  - "If We'd Known You Were Coming We 'd Have Baked a Cake!"
    We will catch up with Tom again later in the year at the Annual Get-Together and BBQ on SUNDAY 10th. December.
    HAPPY 81st. BIRTHDAY, TOM!

    ANNUAL GET-TOGETHER & BBQ.
    SUNDAY 10th DECEMBER 2000 - ALL T.N.S. MEMBERS and PARTNERS ARE INVITED!

  •  Members will be gathering in the same lovely private garden setting as last year, so, no doubt it will be just as memorable. Those who are planning to attend are requested, as usual, to BYO as far as your requirement in BBQ meats, dietary requirements and choice of liquid refreshments are concerned to ensure that our Society's get-together is another culinary success. (As some fellow- members may be travelling from other faraway areas in the State, and may find it difficult to transport goodies or to find somewhere suitable to pick up something on the way, a little extra of this or that would probably not go astray - just in case.)

  • During the morning, at a convenient time, the only formality that will take place will take the form of a brief address by our President in acknowledgement of the current year's activities and achievements.
    As candid photos may be taken for our archives, dress should be neat and casual and, of course, behaviour should be without reproach - as usual  - otherwise we will enlarge the worst and publish them in our newsletter!
    The Get-together will commence at 11.00 a.m. - and probably last until everyone has run out of conversational steam and decided to head for home after what we are sure will be a great day.
    So necessary catering arrangements can be finalised before 3rd December, members who plan to attend are requested to:-
    R.S.V.P   - Phone:- (03) 6227 8825 and leave message with details etc.
    Venue   :-  8 Orana Place, Taroona.

    MEMBER'S SURVEY.

  • Those members who have not returned their recent survey questionnaire are requested to reply before the end of this month so that YOUR input can be taken into consideration in our Society's planning process for 2001 and onwards.

  • If we don't know what YOU want we can't do anything positive about improving our shortcomings or continuing with our successes. Some good sensible ideas have already emerged from those who have taken the time to reply, but every member should be aware that things just don't happen without an effort and sometimes leaving it to the other bloke can undermine a well established Society, such as this one is, just as surely as if we deliberately set about to do so.
    In unity there is strength - that is the reason we originally formed our Society of numismatic friends.
    It is too great of an ideal to allow it to slip down the tubes because of lack of active support but we can't do it with just a handful of dedicated members - we need a concerted effort by ALL to bring things back into sharper focus with attainable goals to aim for.
    Let us continue to enjoy the rewards and the comradeship by supporting OUR Society's ideals - and putting in our 'two-bob's worth' of ideas and then getting INVOLVED to make sure they work!
    Please - read the survey, fill it in, and return it to the Secretary or a Committee member - A.S.A.P.

    AROUND THE TRAPS.

  • The reason for the trip to the North of our island, as mentioned above in our 'Society Snippets' section, was connected with the formal establishment of another tourist souvenir token outlet for Tasmedals' latest venture. From all reports these nicely presented and economical souvenir tokens are being well received by the public - "and the number of Tasmanian outlets is growing at a very satisfactory rate" said Roger McNeice in his Tasmedals managerial role. He also mentioned that the new Port Arthur tokens are on the way and will be available from machines at the historical site very soon.

  • Further news about these tokens will be forthcoming from Tasmedals but, in the interim, trade enquiries can be made to:
    Office:    Tasmedals                                        Showroom : 41 Victoria St Hobart Tasmania
    8 Orana Place                                                     Phone: (03) 6231 5281
    Taroona                                                              Email: tasmedals@southcom.com.au
    Tas. 7053                                                           Website: http://www.tasmedals.com.au
    Ph.   (03) 6227 8825   Fax  (03) 6227 9898
    INTERNET NEWS.
  • The following Internet News may contain Web addresses of international correspondents who have recently e-mailed the 'Tasmanian Numismatist' - some with requests for members and readers, who are interested in swapping, buying and/or selling, to contact them. As with all these matters, we again remind readers that the 'Tasmanian Numismatist' supplies this information as a service only.

  • The 'Tasmanian Numismatist' will not accept any responsibility for disputes over any business dealings between private individuals or commercial parties - nor do we accept responsibility for content on correspondent's Internet home pages or any advertisements supplied thereon.

    ECUADOR.
    Ramiro Vasquez Almeida of Ecuador has supplied us with a list of 'doubles' that he is interested in swapping. As this list will be out of date when this newsletter is available to members we ask that you contact Ramiro direct if you are interested in exchanging world coins. Ramiro's email contact address is: raosvaal@hotmail.com

    ISRAEL - (1).
    Many amateur numismatists from around the world who like to exchange items, on a purely non-commercial basis, are currently listed on Uri Pinus' Good Swappers page. However, if you wish to check things out - as best you can - before you take the plunge into the rewarding - if somewhat nebulous - world of swapping, Uri also has a short list of BAD swappers available for those who care to view it. This is a recommended site for serious swappers.
    Homepage: (http://www.geocities.com/WallStreet/Exchange/5596/menu.html).

    ISRAEL - (2).
    Vladimir Bernshtam has contacted us again regarding swapping and the following email explains what he has to offer.
    I live in Israel. I found your email in Internet. I collect coins, bank notes and stamps.  I have for swap many Israel's coins and bank notes (1949 - 1984), coins, tokens, lottery tickets and bank notes of USSR (1961 - 1990), Ukraine, Russia and other countries worldwide, used stamps and phone-cards of Israel.
    I have for swap Soviet and Israeli post-cards and pins too. I have Ukrainian and Russian tokens for underground (railways) and bank notes too. I'm open for every offer about coins, medals, stamps and phone-cards!!!
    Send me your swap list, please!!  Thanks for your time.
    Sincerely yours, Vladimir.   Email: fnbern@plasma-gate.weizmann.ac.il

    NETHERLANDS.
    Albert Blok of the Netherlands is another collector who has supplied a list of doubles that he wants to swap. Albert's English is interesting, but quite understandable, so if you are interested in world coin exchanges -  Email:  blok.al@wanadoo.nl

    U.K.
    WBCC member and correspondent, Mr. Paul Baker, has recently advised us that he has made another addition to his homepage 'NUMISMATIC DIMENSIONS'.
    The new section contains some very interesting information on the Modern Coinage of the Republic of India and, along with the other great sites that can be accessed; it will be well worth a look at by our members and readers.
    http://www.wbcc.fsnet.co.uk/homepage.htm

    U.S.A. (1).
    In our Volume 4 - Issue #3 (March 1999) we published a story connected with a world record price paid for an U.S.$1000 banknote (Pick#350) featuring General George Gordon Meade.

    General Meade was the Union general who opposed the Confederate Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863.This battle has been seen as the turning point in the conflict between the Southern and Northern states of America and whilst there was no positive outcome as such, the battle was hailed as a Union victory and Meade as its hero.
    In the article we commented: "Who, but Civil War historians, knows as much about General George Gordon Meade - the Union hero of Gettysburg?" - referring to the other protagonists of that time such as Robert E. Lee, J.E.B. Stuart, George Pickett and George McClellan to name but a few who are probably better known to our non-American readers.
    Well we have now received an answer to our question and an invitation to pursue it further if desired.

    'Ladies and Gentlemen of the Tasmanian Numismatic Society - in regard to the question posed! Who indeed knows!
    The General Meade Society of Philadelphia founded in 1996 and boasting over 150 members throughout the United States certainly does! Thanks for helping to keep alive the memory of General Meade, Hero of Gettysburg and a leading citizen of the City of Philadelphia.

    Sincerely yours, Michael I. Wunsch
    Corresponding Secretary - General Meade Society of Philadelphia. Contact Email: Mwungms@aol.com

    U.S.A. (2).
    The following snippet of information was spotted in an Internet article aired by Fox News on 16th October 2000.
    It appears that in the U.S. at present there are something like 60 local currency systems in operation. These systems were originally based on privately organised paper 'currencies' which are basically barter or token coupons that promise goods and services in return for the note - if it ever was to be redeemed. Like many other earlier 'notgeld' systems, these barter coupons have now achieved a 'legitimacy' in specific areas just like real money and, whilst it would be illegal to make banknotes that could be confused for U.S. dollars or used as regular U.S. money, it is apparently within the U.S. law to be able to print your own 'exchange' currency. The trend has also spilled over into Canada with some communities doing their own similar thing!
    Many of these localised notes use the term 'Hours' - or something similar - to signify that the value of the note can be translated into work-hours with an equivalent value set at the going rate for a workman's time e.g. A One Hour note is apparently worth US$10.00 in most areas but, depending on requirements, some locally produced notes may be worth more or less.
    Many thoughtful names are being used such as Californian 'Bread' (US$12) or Brooklyn 'Greenbacks' (US$24) or even New Orleans 'Mo Money' (US$5). In New York there is 'Womanshare' and 'Maritime Hours' are available in Halifax, Nova Scotia. There is a 'currency' converter table available that gives the ruling rate for each of the current participants' notes.
    The latest trend to establish these local barter coupons has been around for about nine years and commercial enterprises look upon it as a way of keeping business and population in areas that may have become economically depressed, As many people do not have ready access to regular currency through lack of employment opportunities they are now dealing virtually exclusively in this local scrip for many everyday transactions.
    One enterprising entrepreneur from Hawaii - with his own cache of gold and silver - has linked his own NORFED (National Organisation for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve and Internal Revenue Code) American Liberty Dollar to the precious metal scales and values them at the same rate as the U.S. Dollar in an effort to get the Government to repeal the present U.S. Federal Reserve system and to recreate the kind of currency ' as intended by the Founding Fathers of the nation.' He believes that the introduction of local currencies and 'the right of the people to make their own money' shows that American ideals of Freedom and Liberty have not been completely eroded since the U.S. went off the Gold Standard in 1971.
    One economist states that he doubts that any real benefit is attained; but another says: " all those people who had skills that were not being utilised by the formal economy and had time available that they would be glad to translate into cash" - the effort of taking economic responsibility in their community within the framework of the Hours currencies has had a great psychological boost.
    In the City of Ithaca in New York State, the originator of a local currency, Paul Glover, states that over 460 businesses now accept and distribute Ithaca Hours (US$10) since their inception in 1991. It is estimated that millions of dollars worth of Hours have changed hands by the thousands of local users within the approximate 30 km. limit radius imposed by the city merchants and the Ithaca Chamber of Commerce.
    The article did not mention if the 'earnings' made within the framework of these local currencies were assessable for U.S. taxation purposes.
    In Australia, even the Kmart organization once had a modern series of well designed and serial numbered discount vouchers ranging from 5 cents to $1.00 that certainly attained a brisk trading value between housewives when a little small change was not to hand. We have seen quite a few similar short-term locally redeemable trade notes from places like Maryborough in Queensland, the Brisbane Expo Dollars of a few years back, and recently the Chatham Islands of New Zealand introduced their series of Millennium notes - which are planned to circulate for a few years with N.Z. Government approval - so the idea is certainly not far from the front burner as far as commercial enterprise is concerned but it is unusual, in this country at least, for such a system to be totally embraced with such enthusiasm as a long term project for purely economical reasons.

    Main References:
    Fox News - Internet version (19/10/2000) :-  http://www.foxnews.com/
    Australian Coin Review:-                              http://www.coinreview.com.au/
    Tasmanian Numismatist:-                             http://www.vision.net.au/~pwood/tns.html

    U.S.A. (3).
    T.N.S. Vice-president Chris Heath dropped us an interesting note during his recent trip to the U.S. and whet our appetites with descriptions of his gastronomic and entertainment encounters of both the costly and more economic kinds from Texas to New York.  It would appear that Chris might now need to diet rather rigorously in an effort to regain both his figure - and the balance on his plastic card with the current Australian Dollar exchange rate hovering at all-time low levels whilst he was away. "BUDDY CAN YOU SPARE A DIME"

    VARIETIES.

  •  Much has been written of late about Australian coin 'varieties' - the latest effort from Mos Byrnes in the Australasian Coin & Banknote Magazine (CAB) is a good example of the renewed interest in this area of numismatics. There is apparently some variance in the interpretation of the word 'variety' as applied to the traditionally accepted numismatic definitions. Some collectors retain the strict view that controlled use of different dies, for instance, constitutes acceptable varieties - whilst all other variances are created by a wide range of errors of a physical origin or a mechanical fault and should therefore be classed as 'error' strikes.

  • The three definitions of the word 'variety' - according to my Collins Australian Dictionary - are:
    1. The quality or condition of being diversified or various.
    2. A collection of unlike things of the same general group.
    3. A different form or kind within a general category.
    No matter what view is held, it is great to see that many Australian pre-decimal collectors are 'back in business' re-examining their accumulations - and that the discussions have created a new interest in our older coinage from our younger colleagues.

    I recently received copies of two articles, written by T.N.S. Member Ian McConnelly, for my personal consideration and as an exchange of information between us about Australian modern varieties - as defined in the broadest sense. Ian also advised me that the articles were being submitted to the CAB magazine as a follow up to the Mos Byrnes items recently featured.
    Keep your eyes open if you are an Australasian Coin & Banknote (CAB) magazine subscriber - Ian's articles were very good reading and I believe that they should rate a mention in a future CAB edition.
    If so, they will be reviewed by the 'Tasmanian Numismatist', in due course, with the author's permission - if not, we will request that Ian give us the opportunity to present them in full for this newsletter's readers.

  • Noticed in the October issue of the 'Australian Coin Review' an illustration and brief article on the 10 cent lyrebird tail blob variety we mentioned in our own June 'Tasmanian Numismatist' edition. It appears that the A.C.R. correspondent, Mr. Michael Backus of Seaford, Victoria, has discovered another coin from a June issue Mint bag of this denomination and this backs up the find we had drawn to our attention by Dr. P. Briddon of Launceston, who supplied us with excellent scans in early May, and subsequent discoveries made later that same month by myself and Ian McConnelly in separate areas of Tasmania.

  • It appears that the blob does vary somewhat in size but is located in the same general area amongst the bird's tail fronds.
     
  • In our August and September issues we featured a discussion - 'A Short Observation' - (which we had to break into two parts), on Australian penny die varieties 1910 - 1937, as presented by our T.N.S. Member #5 - T.W. 'Bill' Holmes O.A.M., A.F.N.S., J.P. and we now present the final instalment which covers the period from 1938 - 1964 when the last of the Australian pennies were struck.

  •  

     

    DIE VARIETIES. A Short Observation.         by T.W. 'Bill' Holmes. O.A.M., A.F.N.S., J.P.
    The series from 1938 to 1952 featuring the relatively short reign of King George VI saw less coins being struck than of his father King George V. (George VI was the second son of King George V and only came to the throne of Great Britain by a circumstance of fate when his elder brother abdicated before being crowned.)
    The new obverse depicted the new monarch bareheaded whilst his immediate predecessors wore crowns of some description.
    It is believed that the King himself requested the 'new' look in keeping with the modern age perception of the monarchy that had become apparent in the mid-nineteen thirties in America and Europe, but it is also interesting to note that the King's portrait faces in the same direction as his father King George V - in what appears to be a break with tradition.
    It had been the practise of succeeding monarchs to have the bust facing in an alternative direction to the predecessor, however, King Edward VIII - the uncrowned king - wanted his coinage to depict him with his most favoured side facing the same way as his father and his vanity and insistence to assert his role as monarch had been agreed to by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and the government of the day.
    As Edward's planned coinage was never issued in England (Refer 'Tasmanian Numismatist' - May 1997) because of his abdication, the decision was made by King George to assume that Edward's portrait would normally have faced to the right - so, as Edward's successor, he authorised the traditional facing bareheaded bust for his own English and Australian coinage and authorised Australia's unique kangaroo for the reverse field for the pennies and halfpennies to be minted in this country.
    The new design, which featured an obverse by Thomas Humphrey Paget and a reverse by George Kruger Gray (1880 -1943), was struck in Melbourne and the initials H P are usually seen on the obverse and initials K G are usually seen on the reverse of the bronze coins. However, some 1939 Melbourne coins have the K G missing but it is believed that it may be the result of a mint error - most probably a filled die.
    In 1940 the Perth Mint struck pennies that bear a small dot between the K and G on the reverse whilst the Melbourne Mint issues have no such dot mintmark. The coins from Perth from 1940 - 1952 also have a dot after the word PENNY - which is very handy to be able to use as an identifier of the coin source. Noted die varieties in the 1941 Perth penny have the mintmark dot high near the top of the Y of PENNY and, in another, the last 1 in the date 1941 is rather thin - whilst a third has a thick last 1 in the date compared to the normal penny with the Y dot.
    In 1942 the Bombay mint struck pennies for Australia as well and their coins can be differentiated by a pellet or dot both before and after the word PENNY plus the letter I under the King's head on the obverse.
    A scarce1942 Indian variety is that which has the letter I missing from under King George's head.
    There are several varieties noted in 1943 - they consist of Bombay mint, I under the King's head, dot before and after PENNY, different rim denticles to that of the 1942 for the main issue. A 1943 variety is also noted with the 1942 rim denticles. The Perth Mint also issued bronzes with the usual dot after PENNY mintmark.
    In 1944 all pennies were struck by Melbourne Mint and show no mintmarks as usual.
    There are several varieties noted in Perth issue pennies of 1945 that concern the level of the crossbar of the 4 in the date, and another has been noted with a large dot after the initials K G
    Melbourne Mint issued the very small mintage of 240,000 pennies in 1946 and no mintmark was used as usual, but in 1947 both Melbourne and Perth shared in producing about 11,354,00 of these coins with the Perth Mint adding its dot after the PENNY mintmark.
    It seems as if the number 4 created more varieties in the large 1948 Melbourne (no mintmark) issue of 26,616,000 with the foot of the 4 falling away to the left on some whilst others were normal. The quite small Perth additional strike of 1.5 million 1948 pennies with its trademark dot were normal, and today these are quite expensive in the better grades.
    With the changing and volatile world after WWII, it necessitated a change in the legend on Imperial coinage of 1949 to delete the portion IND: IMP: that referred to the King being Emperor of India and, to fill up the gap, the letters F: D:  were extended to read FIDEI DEF. - Defender of the Faith. That year 27,064,800 pennies were struck in Melbourne and no varieties have ever been recorded but in 1950 the same mint was responsible for producing coins with two varieties - a short and long version in the 1 of the date.
    Over 52,128,000 pennies were produced in 1951 when London joined Melbourne and Perth as issuers. The London pennies can be distinguished by the letters PL - (which can stand for either Pecunia Londinii - money of London, or Percussa Londinio  - struck at London). Except for the usual dot after PENNY for the 12,888,000 Perth coins no other variety is recorded.
    As if to make up for the previous year, the 1952 issue of pennies had at least seven varieties - Melbourne had one and Perth had six of which four are scarce to rare. The varieties consist of significant differences in the 52 of the date but with the main emphasis on the figure 2. This number can be noted with or without serifs of slightly different shapes and the base of the 2 is also different on some Perth pennies - the rarest of these are those where the 2 is tilted to the right with a pointed tail and another has an usual square-ended serif on the base of the 2. Another scarce variety has been noted that contains a large dot after the last A in AUSTRALIA and a wedge tail on the figure 2 that also leans to the left.
    Two Melbourne mint and one Perth Mint varieties are identified for 1953 - the Melbourne penny has a slanted serif 5 while the Perth coin has a dot after the last A in AUSTRALIA as well as a vertical serif. The very rare 1953-penny variety apparently originates from Melbourne as there is no mintmark - it has the vertical serif 5 somewhat similar to the Perth penny.
    The year 1954 was apparently variety free but 1955 saw another two varieties, both from Perth Mint - which show either a narrow or broad gap between the two 5's in the date. Of the two, the wider gap 5 coin is the scarcer.
    Both Pert and Melbourne struck 1956 coins with no difficulties but when Perth alone struck the 1957 pennies at least 4 varieties were noted. The figure 7 has been seen in both thick and thin strikes and are considered common, a less common sight is a completely wider date than usual, a variety without the tell-tale Perth dot after PENNY is very rare and I have never seen an example in Tasmanian numismatic circles.
    Perth and Melbourne both had uneventful strikes in 1958 and 1959 and Perth, which did the minting from 1960 - 1963, also appears to have had no troubles during those years. However, a Queensland collector friend pointed out that an article by Paul M. Holland, which had been published in Volume 8 of the Journal of the Numismatic Association of Australia, gave a very detailed listing of the pennies of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II and had pointed out the fact that many more varieties DO exist. After reading the article I have already discovered more than a dozen as described by Mr. Holland - and it is very apparent that more exist. I commend the N.A.A. Journal article to any variety collector as essential reading.
    In my previous article I omitted any reference to a 1912-penny with the H (Heaton) mintmark missing. Although I have had an example of this particular coin for many years I was not certain if it was from a filled die or not.
    However, I noted that this coin was listed in Mos Byrnes new book on the subject of varieties and have also received confirmation from another collector - so I would now classify this coin as a confirmed variety.
    I now intend to do some more searching of other Australian pre-decimal denominations when time permits.

    T.W. 'Bill' Holmes O.A.M., A.F.N.S., J.P.
     

    WHEN MONEY LOOKED LIKE MONEY…….!         by Graeme Petterwood.

  • The decimal currency we have enjoyed in Australia since 1966 has been uniquely ours but, sometimes, I look at my collection of world paper currency, in particular, and yearn for the old days when tradition, pomp and ceremony were reflected on this flimsy stuff that dreams were made of - before polymer substrate came along.

  •  

     

    The Chinese were widely recognised as being the first manufacturers of 'paper' currency notes, however, I do not intend to dwell on the technical side of the development from that point in time - but more on the aesthetic progression, as I see it, that occurred and as portrayed in more 'modern' notes that I have to hand. My own earliest attractive paper notes only date back to 1862 when the conflict between the Northern and Southern states of America had just commenced - but many of these feature all of the reasons that, to me, make an old note fascinating.
    Intricate scrollwork, allegorical god or goddess-like figures from Greek and Roman mythology, fiery steeds with gallant amour-plated and crowned kings and even the copperplate writing have all lent a mystique to the older circulating notes that somehow doesn't seem to translate well to our modern counterparts with their cuddly animals and cut flower arrangements surrounding a somewhat unknown civic leader. This progression towards the final banality of plastic credit cards, instead of currency notes, has taken some time and to put a starting point on it would be futile - except that it appears to have gathered momentum after WWII.
    I particularly like some of the Imperial notes from Russia before the bloody revolution in 1917 - including small postage stamp notes as well as those that would make a nice size place-mat - and the royal German, Hungarian and Austrian eagles that sit astride the currencies that opposed the Bank of England's immaculate copper-plates and the elegant French franc notes bearing the allegorical figures and helmeted heads of beautiful female warriors like Minerva. There are the spidery mosaics and overprinted backgrounds, of great variety, on notes of countries that disappeared and are only now re-emerging after more than three-quarters of a century. The artistic beauty and presentation is obvious even when some banknotes became less valuable than the paper they were printed on after the 'war to end all wars' had ground to a bloody halt in 1918. The years of reparation after the war brought financial ruin to some of the defeated countries and the Wall Street crash and the Depression that followed brought financial ruin to many people at all levels of society, but still the money printers produced some attractive 'works of art' as depicted on the grossly inflated currencies of Europe in the early 1930's when a week's wages were measured with a metre ruler and it was cheaper to paper a wall with attractive banknotes than to buy a roll of wallpaper.

    As if to make up for the gloom that fell over Europe in the late 1930's when war was again threatening the stability of the continent some countries, like France, produced series of notes that featured those allegorical figures of young idealised men and women who signified Light, Hope and Beauty. Alas, it was not to be!

    Many other countries, like Australia, relied of the solid traditional designs of monarch, lots of elaborate scrollwork and background mosaics and scenes to impart an idea of dignity, strength, continuance and purpose.
    In their own way, these 'pomp and circumstance' notes achieved this purpose and, to me, they signify the time when money looked like money that was to be trusted as well to be admired - but to each his own - as beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

    There was a lingering link with the past during the early 1950's as the older heads-of-state or monarchs slowly drifted from the world's centre stage, but the obvious changes in the currencies of many nations, like Australia, as they shook off the traditions of a century were sometimes not seen as really for the better. Just as our perception of art changes so did our overall perception of currency design but, as I stated at the beginning of this article, I sometimes yearn for those old style traditional notes that reflected the ideals of an age that has now gone forever.
     
     

    Some Australian old-timers ruefully stated, in 1966, that the era of 'Monopoly money' had arrived.

    Index


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