Rare Australian 5-shilling specimen note sells for nearly $59,000 U.S. at auction

Selling price was far below the more than $300,000 Australian its owner paid for the note
By , Special to Coin World
Published : 12/04/17
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One of probably four surviving unissued Australian 5-shilling specimen notes from 1916 sold for $77,513 Australian, including a 19.5 percent buyer’s fees and taxes (the equal to about $58,758 in U.S. funds) at Noble Numismatics’ Nov. 22 sale in Sydney.

The note is signed by C.J. Cerutty, from whose estate this bill traces its provenance, as assistant secretary. It has the word SPECIMEN faintly overprinted in blue on the face. The note was described in the catalog as nearly Uncirculated with a light fold in the center.


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According to Noble, these notes were printed in 1916 without signatures, which were added at a later time. The note came into existence because of the rising price of silver during World War I. The government was fearful that silver coins would be hoarded and created this issue of 5-shilling notes to ease a possible coin shortage.  

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Slightly over a million notes were printed, but by 1922 the price of silver had stabilized and the entire issue was burned. Jim Noble speculates that the four survivors, while not numbered, were signed, suggesting that Cerutty legally held them to show them to politicians, VIPs, or the royal family. Noble also said that this was the only Australian bank note issue ever printed and made ready for distribution, but then destroyed.

The selling price was far below the more than $300,000 Australian its owner paid The Rare Coin Company for it before the firm failed in 2013. 

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