First notes worth a mint
Barb and Rob Jackman display some of the 100-year-old historic notes at the Albany shop.

An Albany-based coin company is offering a set of banknotes from the first printing of currency in Australia almost 100 years ago.

The eight notes, ranging from 10 shillings to 1000 pounds, were among the first to be produced in Australia after Federation and are expected to fetch $5.5 million on the open market.

Avid coin and note trader Rob Jackman, who manages The Rare Coin Company, said six of the eight notes were discovered in a North Yorkshire home in England and sold to their current Australian owner in 2009.

Mr Jackman tracked down the £10 and £1,000 notes in recent times to complete the unique set.

Printed in limited numbers, the notes — termed early cancelled specimens — were produced in 1913 and 1914, and given to other banks and countries so they would know what Australian bank notes looked like, according to Mr Jackman.

The collection is known as the Collins/Allen set after the two secretaries to the Treasury whose signatures appear on the notes.

Mr Jackman said they had huge cultural and historic significance for the birth of Australia as a nation.

“This was the first time Australia had their own bank notes for the Commonwealth of Australia,” he said. “Before that point notes were printed in Britain and they were issued by local banks.”

They also caused controversy as the upper class feared the printing of a 10 shilling note, the first low-denomination note printed in a Commonwealth country, would pass infections from the lower class to the upper echelons.

Mr Jackman said he already had buyer interest from international and local investors. The notes are expected to be sold privately.

“We would hope they sell in Australia to someone who wants to preserve Australia’s history, but we’re like everyone else, if someone wants to put their money down it’ll be first in best dressed,” he said.

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