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Auction reflects state of Australian market

Readers are probably aware that the market for Australian notes has been somewhat subdued for several years. Prices realized have provided a sharp contrast to the heady days of the previous decade. Noble Numismatics’ last sale of 2016 in November provided an opportunity to take the current Aussie paper money market’s temperature. The results suggest it is still in convalescence.

Lot 2667 consisted of a consecutive pair of first issue (1913) Commonwealth 10-shilling notes with serials M000054 & M000055. These are both examples of presentation notes from first ever printing, P-1Ac. The came accompanied by a letter to the recipient signed by Treasury Secretary George T. Allen. That recipient was a member of the federal parliament from Western Australia. His notes became separated over the years but were reunited in 1988.


One had two rounded corners, a repaired tear in the left top margin and two pin holes but was otherwise about EF. The second still had the printer’s guide lines in all four corners of the face and was graded EF+. It is one of the finest known.

At the Noble sale the pair were offered with an estimate of AUD120,000. They hammered for AUD90,000. With commission the total was AUD107,325 [USD80,339]. This price provides and interesting comparison with current catalog values and past sales.

Australia has two price guides that update annually. McDonald’s Pocket Guide to Australian Coins & Banknotes currently lists a 1913 10 shilling presentation note—with letter—at AUD175,000 in EF. Renniks Australian Coin & Banknote Values give $142,500. The catalog value of a pair, let alone a consecutive pair, would thus be AUD350,000 and AUD285,000, respectively. SCWPM values a single P-1Ac note in EF at USD200,000.

Clearly, in this instance, all three catalogs are out of kilter with the present reality. Their prices still echo the intoxicating post-millennial days when note M000004 sold for AUD245,000 and M000001 took AUD1.9 million. No auction sale of any Australian P-1 note in the past few years has achieved anywhere near the cited values.

That said, Jim Noble would appear to be a realist. He was fully conversant with the state of the market when he set the estimate on the pair at AUD120,000. At the time of writing 1USD = 1.34AUD.

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

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