Five Shilling Banknote
The first issue Five shilling notes were first proposed in 1916, when the value of silver was estimated to become too expensive to use for making coins due to a possible decrease in Australia’s supply of silver. The proposed note was designed to have a portrait of George VI, the King of the United Kingdom and Emperor of India, displayed on its front side. 1,020,000 of the banknotes were printed. Originally printed without signatures, the sinatures of James R. Collins, Assistant Secretary and George T. Allen, Secretary to the Treasury were added later. These notes were issued without any serial numbers. When the price of silver fell in 1920, the need for paper notes did not arise and by 1953 all the notes were thought to have been destroyed, other than those now in the possession of Reserve Bank of Australia. In 1993 four of these notes, the property of a descendant of C.J.Cerutty, were acquired by Downies. One was auctioned and the other three were sold privately.
The second issue
In 1946 another silver scare saw the preparation of another five shilling note issue. These notes had the signatures of H. T. Armitage, Governor, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and S. G. McFarlane, Secretary to the Treasury. There were no watermarks and the serial numbers consisted of a double letter over a six digit number. The need to issue these notes did not arise, again, and in 1953 they were all destroyed, except for a few specimens in the possession of Reserve Bank of Australia.
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