Paper Money

Reserve Bank of Australia poised to issue a new polymer $100 note

The Reserve Bank of Australia plans to release its new $100 bank note, the second of the denomination made of polymer, into general circulation on Oct. 29. Existing $100 notes, with 400 million already in circulation, will continue to be legal tender.

The new notes have been in production since the middle of last year, and their distribution and release, particularly in the times of COVID-19, is being described by the bank as “a big logistical exercise.”

The design was revealed earlier this year. It celebrates the contributions of two outstanding Australians, the same ones as on the issue it is replacing — Sir John Monash and Dame Nellie Melba.

Monash was an engineer, soldier, civic leader, and an important figure in the building-construction industry. He is also widely remembered for his role as a commander in World War I.

Melba was an internationally acclaimed soprano who performed in Australia, Europe and the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She was born Helen Porter Mitchell but after visiting Europe in 1886, she took the stage name “Melba” in honor of her home town of Melbourne. She also made important contributions to the arts with the Melba Memorial Conservatorium of Music, now the Melba Opera Trust, in Melbourne.

The bank said that it is keeping the people portrayed, as well as the dominant green color and 158- by 65-millimeter size, unchanged for ease of recognition and to minimize disruption to business.

The bank in a statement advised, “As with any new banknote it will take time for them to be widely available.” For collectors who can’t wait, Downie’s, the Australian dealer, is accepting orders in advance of the release date. Individual notes are offered in an official Reserve Bank of Australia folder at $128 each (about $92 in U.S. funds). An Uncirculated pair, the new note along with an example of Australia’s first polymer $100 design type, together in a folder labeled “Reserve Bank of Australia Two Generations $100 Uncirculated Banknote Pair,” is priced at $252 ($181 U.S.).

Anyone wanting to pick up regular examples of the new note at one of the bank’s offices will have a number of COVID-19-inspired hoops to jump through. Physical distance rules will be in place. Arrangements must be made 48 to 72 hours in advance. Information to allow for contact tracing must be provided.

Full details on the design and the many security features are on the Bank’s website, banknotes.rba.gov.au.

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