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
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Also this week, John Wexler tracks down the rare 1970-S Lincoln,
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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.