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Australia announces new $50 design

Last month, the Reserve Bank of Australia announced the latest design in its Next Generation Banknote Program, that of the $50. The new note follows Australia’s existing $50 note (P-54, -60), with the face featuring Aboriginal writer and inventor David Unaipon and, on the back, the first female member of any Australian parliament, Edith Cowan.

 Face and back of Australia’s new $50 bank note, to be placed in circulation later this year. (Images courtesy Reserve Bank of Australia.)

Face and back of Australia’s new $50 bank note, to be placed in circulation later this year. (Images courtesy Reserve Bank of Australia.)

Bank Governor Philip Lowe stressed that, like the New Generation $5 and $10 released during the past two years, “Improved security and ease of recognition underpin the design of the new $50 bank note.”

New security features include a patch with a rolling-color effect, microprint excerpts from David Unaipon’s book and Edith Cowan’s maiden parliamentary speech, and a top-to-bottom clear window that contains dynamic features such as a reversing number.

Four raised bumps on each of the long edges provide a tactile identification feature.

Aspects of David Unaipon’s and Edith Cowan’s lives are contained in a number of design elements. These include shields from Unaipon’s Ngarrindjeri nation and the practices of miwi and navel cord exchange known as nhung e umpie (ngia-ngiampe).

The bank note shows a picture of the gumnut brooch Cowan had made to symbolize the fact that entry into Parliament for Australian women was a “hard nut to crack,” along with the “King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women” in whose establishment she played a key role.

As with the New Generation $5s and $10s, the new note includes representations of a native wattle and native bird. The $50 features Acacia humifusa, Unaipon’s ngaitji or totem, and a Black Swan (Cygnus atratus), the official bird of Cowan’s home state of Western Australia.

Readers wanting a bank note challenge can try locating the four Black Swans shown on the note, all of which provide distinct and different security features. Two are obvious. In the upper left face is a rolling color swan. On the top-to-bottom transparent window is a see-through iridescent swan that changes color and appears to be swimming on rippling water when the note’s face is tilted. The tilting causes a third to land on water and fold its wings. The fourth is strictly covert. It needs a UV light to spot – as does the note’s year of issue.

The new note will go into circulation in October this year. Existing $50 bank notes will continue in use and, like all previously issued Australian bank notes, will remain legal tender. The new and improved version of Australia’s $20, currently P-59 should appear in 2019.

Full details of the design and security features on the new $50 note are available on the RBA’s website at

This article was originally printed in Bank Note Reporter. >> Subscribe today.

More Collecting Resources

• With over 25,000 listings and 15,500 illustrations, the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, Modern Issues is your go-to guide for modern bank notes.

• The Standard Catalog of United States Paper Money is the only annual guide that provides complete coverage of U.S. currency with today’s market prices.