A RARE colonial banknote printed in Warrnambool is on sale almost 150 years after it was produced in the early days of British settlement.
Sydney-based valuables dealer IS Wright has posted the 1866 Bank of Australasia banknote for sale online — with the starting bid at nearly $2800.
IS Wright proprietor Stewart Wright said the banknote was one of the few left in existence printed by the bank from the 1860s.
He said early colonial banknotes were exceptionally rare because the monetary face value was too high for the average person to keep.
“Paper banknotes inevitably have wear and tear over time but not this note, its condition is remarkable,” Mr Wright said.
“It is more than likely this banknote was never issued to the general public.
“It is likely to be a proof used for the bank archives and was probably contained in a vault for decades upon decades.”
One pound in the mid-1860s would be directly comparable to $325 in 2015 money, with the pre-decimal system from Great Britain applied in Victoria from the early days of European settlement.
Mr Wright said colonial banknote collectors had deep pockets with many paying top modern dollar to snap up a piece of Australia’s early monetary history.
“Many of these notes had been forgotten or were not widely acknowledged until a mass auction by (British auction house) Christies in the early 1990s,” he said.
“You have to remember that for a banknote to survive 130, 140, 150 years is quite a test. Few exist because they’ve been faded by the sun, stained by something, torn or otherwise exposed to the elements.
“Even acquiring a note back then would have been difficult in the first place. One would want to spend the note rather than keep it for posterity.”
The note was produced by the Bank of Australasia on September 14, 1866. It reads: “a promise to pay the bearer on demand one pound here or at Melbourne.”
The green and buff-coloured banknote features the phrase ‘Warrnambool’ on the left and right sides of the rectangle design, with the word ‘Victoria’ inscribed at the base.
A St George-style crest appears in the left-hand corner with two sheep and two sailing ships. The right-hand corner features a stylised one in front of a lily-pad watermark.
Several other examples of pre-federation Bank of Australasia notes, mostly from New Zealand sources, are available for sale over the internet.