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    1988 Australia $10 Bicentenary Issue AA23 last prefix

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    1 week ago by tanlina85

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    AA 23 099 178 History was made in the world of banknotes on 27th January, 1988 when the first polymer note, a $10, was released into general circulation. This note is the brainchild of Note Printing Australia (NPA), Australia's leading security printer and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the Federal Government research institution. It is the product of almost twenty years of research to "build a better banknote". Shortly after the decimalisation of Australia's currency in February, 1966, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) became alarmed with the extent of the counterfeiting of its workhorse note, the $10. It approached the CSIRO for assistance and it together with NPA {which at the time was known as the Note Printing Branch (NPB) - of the RBA} embarked on what proved to be a ground breaking project. Development of the polymer note was not without its difficulties. Suffice to say many obstacles were overcome such that today over 20 countries have embraced this technology. Much secrecy surrounded the development of the note and this first issue has the RBA code name "C $10", for commemorative $10. January 26 is Australia's national day (a public holiday) and in 1988 200 years of European settlement were celebrated. It is understood that the note was actually available on that day from RBA which especially opened sales offices. (Of course, Australia's indigenous people do not place the same importance on this date having arrived some 40,000 years earlier. In 1988 one of their number an actor, Burnum Burnum, travelled to Britain and staked a claim on British territory at Folkestone on behalf of the Australian Aboriginal people. Presumbly this was tongue in cheek.) However, befitting the occasion, this commemorative note depicts scenes of European settlement and the general development of a multi - cultural nation on one side and on the other side Australia's aboriginal heritage. A sophisticated Optically Variable Device (OVD) as a key security feature developed by NPB is introduced with this note in the RBA's campaign against the counterfeiters. The OVD is a NPA development and this is its first appearance. Inquisitive and irreverent members of the public attempted to scratch off this OVD with a coin, much the same way as one "opens" a scratch lottery ticket. Australia's Federal Government was also very keen that this note be issued to coincide with the commencement of the bicentennial celebrations and it is understood that production was fast tracked to meet this goal. This may have contributed to some production faults. Alarmed with the extent of public interference with the OVD, the RBA suspended issue, effectively recalling the note through the banking system. When notes were deposited with commercial banks, they were not re-issued and presumably returned to the RBA and destroyed. On 24th October, 1988 the note was re- released after a completely new printing. This release was without the previous problems; seemingly the public's curiosity had been satisfied. A significant difference between the two is that the first issue has a thin smooth varnish over the OVD whereas the second issue has a thick mottled varnish. As a commemorative, it was not intended to replace the current paper notes but was to circulate in tandem with them for about one year and to act as a test for a future generation of polymer notes. All circulation notes, including the recalled issue have the prefix AB followed by two numbers. A six digit number then follows. Those notes which were withdrawn have 93, 94 or 96 as the first two digits of the six digit number. These numbers are excluded from the second issue. Mr Robert Johnston, Governor of RBA, was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of 29th January, 1988 as saying "that 54 million notes are expected to enter circulation". Actual numbers fell well short of this figure no doubt because of the reprinting and the later re-issue date. Packaged notes in a folder and envelope have an AA prefix. These notes carry the commemorative date, "26 JANUARY 1988". Notes are also available in a base uncut sheet of 24 and smaller sheets of 12 (half sheet) and strips and blocks of 4. Only the packaged and uncut notes are dated. Whilst the AB note is not dated there are sufficient design elements (including micro-printing) to enable it to qualify as a commemorative. A perspex encased note was also released in limited quantities. The folder note became available on 8th July, 1988 and the uncut sheets in January, 1989. Understandably, the authorities were keen for this technology to be successful having invested some 20 years and $20million into its development. Whilst the note was intended as a one year issue, in 1989 intensive field testing was undertaken in the Newcastle area (some 170 km north of Sydney an area traditionally used for market research because of its location and demographics). Market research was also done to measure public and professional (bank tellers, check-out operators and other high volume cash handlers) reaction to the note. These findings assisted the RBA / NPA in determining the characteristics of future polymer notes for Australia and for other countries. Such was the birth of the first polymer note.

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