Australian Specimen Banknotes Specimen notes have no legal tender status but have been used world-wide by issuing authorities to give a clear indication of the design. They only differ from normal circulation notes in that they are overprinted, which invalidates them as currency. Some types have either no serial numbers or all zeros even though several hundred of those notes might have been produced. In Australia, specimen notes have been issued for presentation to VIP’s as well as reference material for major banks, commercial agencies and libraries. Most are very rare with small mintages, and because they have not entered into general circulation, are of a very high quality – two key factors that have made them increase rapidly in value and will always make them popular to both investors and collectors.
Type 1 specimen notes contain the word SPECIMEN within an oval located in the watermark area. The notes come from 208 booklets produced specially for the changeover to decimal currency. Two notes of each of the 5 denominations – $1, $2, $5, $10 and $20 – were lightly glued in the booklet to show the front and back of each note. Even though not included in the original issues, provision was made for the $5 note (with the Coombs/Randall signature combination) which was introduced a year later in 1967.
Type 2 specimen notes have the word SPECIMEN in medium red type printed diagonally 8 times on each side of the note. Unlike the type 1 specimen notes, they were distributed as individual notes and not in booklets. Each of the 5 denominations – $1, $2, $5, $10 and $20 – were issued, the $5 note (with the Coombs/Randall signature combination) being introduced a year later in 1967. These notes were often used for display purposes in banks and other public places and are commonly found with pinholes where they were mounted.
Type 3 specimen notes were released specifically to demonstrate the change in the legend from COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA to AUSTRALIA, have the word SPECIMEN in very large outline type printed diagonally twice on each side of the note, with the added inscription of NO VALUE in medium type in the watermark area. Each note also carries an individual specimen serial number. The notes were distributed as individual notes in each of the 6 denominations – $1, $2, $5, $10, $20 and $50.
Type 4 specimen notes were released to demonstrate the new note designs with the change from paper to a polymer composition. The change was brought about to prolong the circulation life of the notes and to incorporate new security features, making counterfeit note production extremely difficult. The notes are similar to the type 3 specimen notes, with each having an individual specimen serial number apart from the all zeros main number. However, the lettering for the word ‘SPECIMEN’ is much more subdued, appearing only in medium type below the denomination on the note, apparently so that the main design could be better examined and appreciated. The notes were distributed as individual notes in each of the 5 denominations – $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100.