Australia's first banknote fetches US$310,000

Australia's first banknote fetches US$310,000
A file photo taken on March 12, 2014 shows Colin Pitchfork, a consultant at Noble Numismatics, holding the only known specimen of the first official banknote issued in Australia in 1817, discovered in a private collection in Scotland in 2005, in Sydney on March 12, 2014.
<p>SYDNEY - The only surviving example of Australia's first official banknote exceeded expectations when it was auctioned for Aus$334,000 (S$391,000), officials said Thursday.</p><p>The 10 shilling note - one of 100 issued in 1817 by the Bank of New South Wales (now called Westpac) on the day it opened - attracted bids from around the world, said Jim Noble of Noble Numismatics, which handled the sale.</p><p>"It's a record for a colonial banknote," he told AFP. "It will stay in Australia (but) I've no idea what the gentleman who bought it plans to do, he's a high up executive in a big organisation.</p><p>"It would be exciting to see it on public display, it's a great thing." The auction price easily exceeded its Aus$250,000 estimate, with Noble attributing the interest to its unique historical value.</p><p>"It's the only one of its kind, even Westpac does not have one." Noble said the note was discovered in a private collection in Scotland in 2005, with Scots-born former New South Wales governor Lachlan Macquarie or one of his staff thought to have taken it there.</p><p>It was later bought by a private collector who sold it at Wednesday night's auction.</p><p>Macquarie arrived in Sydney at the end of 1809 to be confronted by a colony in crisis with no stable monetary system since the First Fleet landed in 1788.</p><p>As the new governor, he was given extensive powers to reshape the colony, but despite this his first request to London to establish a bank was rejected.</p><p>In 1812, to alleviate the shortage of currency, he imported £10,000 (S$21,000) in Spanish coins from India and in 1813 manufactured and issued the "Holey Dollar" - one of which sold at auction for a world-record Aus$495,000 last year.</p><p>But it was not sufficient and in 1816 he revived his plan for a bank, this time getting London's approval, and on April 8, 1817 the Bank of New South Wales opened for business.</p>

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