AUSTRALIA, 1 pound, no date (1942), P26b


AUSTRALIA, 1 pound, no date (1942), Face: green-black on multicolor, King on right, Back: dark green, sheep sheering, signatures: Armitage-McFarlane, P26b, XF-AU

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George VI 1 pound notes are about the limit of what an American GI might have saved as a souvenir of a short stay in Australia. It was worth about $5.00 back then, a decent low end daily wage.

The first Austtralian paper money was issued by private banks. The history of private banks in the 19th century is that all but a few went bust. Sometimes governments bought them out, other times the customers lost their holdings. There are no common Australian banknotes from before World War II.

Aside from China, other governments started using circulating “banknotes” starting in the 17th century AD. The practice became general in the 19th century. In the 20th century value of paper money in circulation far surpassed the value of coinage. In the 21st century paper money is fading and credit transactions are growing.

Paper money, meaning the promise of a government to pay a set amount, and the paper promise allowed to circulate at will, was probably first used in China in the 12th century AD. At that time the merchants and governments of Europe were just writing letters to each other about what they owed.