My 12 simple facts about Australia Polymer notes issued since 1988.
This post is meant for those who has no knowledge of Australian polymer notes collecting, especially those residing outside the country. I complied this myself based on my own knowledge, past observations and understanding, and as such may not be accurate or missing other information too.
1) Australia first released a polymer note ($10) in 1988. The note was issued to celebrate the 200th years of first British settlement in Australia (1788-1988). This note was also an experimental type too following the R&D successfully done on polymer note printing by CSIRO, thus paving the way for the introduction of polymer notes for general circulation in 1992. The size of this new $10 note was also the same size as the last paper note issued. It should be noted that Australia was not the first country to introduce non cotton based currency. This honour went to the country in the Caribbean - Haiti in 1980. Australia was the forth country to release non cotton based paper banknotes, after Costa Rico and Isle of Man (both 1983);
2) Since introducing polymer notes, Australia has never printed any Replacement/Star prefix notes. Because of this, in general, last prefix notes are more sought after as the letter prefixes are not consistent and in some cases harder to find too unless the prefix is known to collectors prior. The1995 $50 VG95 last prefix note remains the most expensive of the polymer note series, especially in uncirculated condition. They are still some circulating in the systems after so many years;
3) The first circulating polymer note was introduced in 1992 ($5), with one denomination added on a yearly basis started from the lower denomination to the highest. The last note was introduced in late 1996 ($100);
4) All first prefix notes for all denominations are printed with AA letters with the exception of the $5 note (BA). This was because when the first $5 was introduced, the letter prefix used were ranging from AA00 to AB19. In 1993 the first year date note was introduced ie AA93, and since some of the "Year Dates" have already been used in the previous year on the 1992 $5 piece (ie AA93, AA94, AA95 and so on), the bank decided to have BA as the first prefix instead, with the exception of 1995 print (see below) and the 2001 Federation $5 commemorative notes series;
5) Whilst all $5 notes first prefix were printed with BA since 1993, all $5 Annual Folder sets were issued with AA prefix for both Premium (Red) and Deluxe sets (Black). These NPA notes were not intended for general circulation but are legal tender if presented in public. Annual NPA sets were issued from 1994 to 1999.
6) The recolouring of the $5 note was first issued in 1995. This came about after receiving many complains from the public that many people were confused with the $10 note especially under poor light condition in public places. However it was interesting to note that the 1995 recoloured notes were issued with first prefix AA95. The following year it reverted back to BA as first prefix;
7) In 1996 Bernie Fraser as Governor of the Reserve Bank was replaced by Ian Macfarlane as the new Governor and for that year two signatures varieties were issued for the $5 notes;
8) In 2002, the designs of the $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes were altered slightly to include the name of each portrait on the note, except the $5 note. No introduction or reminder is required for this portrait;
9) Full set (circulating type) were only printed in 1996, 1998 and 2008. The other way of getting full sets were via the NPA collectors annual sets issued in 1997, 1998, 1999, 1997 (ZZ97) and 1998 (ZZ98) Notes and Coins Collector sets and the 1996 NPA Special Portfolio Collectors sets (0096). Not sure why they used the prefix alphabets of OO96 for this set. The ZZ sets are not replacement notes;
10) No notes were issued in 2000 millennium year;
11) Whilst NPA released many numismatic notes between 1992 to 1999, many of these were not that popular among collectors and after so many years, you can still find them on offer at a very reasonable price. Obviously catalogue prices quoted are not realistic. One of the failed product was the 1998 10 Note Portraits. The intention was to issued 1,500 sets of two $10 notes. Both have matching serial numbers with prefixes AA98 and AB98. These pairs are sold either with a frame or without at $185 and $75 respectively. It was later abandoned due to lack of interest among collectors.
12) The other issue that was not popular and over priced was the NPA and Royal Australia Mint (RAM) 1988 Bicentenary three coin-three banknotes portfolio album. The album comes with 3 coins and 3 banknotes of $2, $5 and $10. There are nothing special about these coins or the notes except that the coins are all in proof condition, whilst the $2 note came from the last prefix print. The $10 note used came from the newly polymer notes issued. A total of 25,000 sets were released at a price of $120 per album. This was the first joint issue between NPA and RAM. Until today, after 20 years plus, you can still get one below $120.
Welcome to the collection of Australia polymer banknotes.