Banknotes found in a drawer sell for £400k

It's funny what you can find down the back of drawers when you least expect it.

During a recent house clearance, six banknotes turned up which were subsequently sold at auction for £400,000 by Spink.

They were nearly a century old and from Australia, all perforated with the word CANCELLED.

All the notes were specimens taken from early printing of the noted and stamped so as to prevent their circulation.

All the notes are from 1913-4, and represent some of the very first specifically Australian Commonwealth money.

No image of the reigning King, George V, appears on the notes, which was regarded as scandalous by some. He appeared on notes in 1923.

In total, the notes consist of a 10 shilling, £1, £5, £20, £50 and £100 note. The 10 shilling note - the first of its kind - was particularly controversial.

Australian 10 shilling banknote
Australian 10 shilling banknote
It was feared that a banknote which was likely to be handled by the lower classes as well as the upper might be likely to spread disease up through society.

All the notes bear the signature of the then Secretary to the Treasury George Thomas Allen and his assistant James Richard Collins.

The high value notes are particularly rare as £20, £50 and £100 notes were withdrawn from circulation during WW2, in the hope of deterring the black market.

That would have included specimen notes like these, despite them not being in circulation.

The £20 note is one of two Allen/Collins specimen known to be in existence, the £50 one of three and the £100 one of two again.

It is an extraordinary piece of collecting forgotten about until now, and a great example of how the growing field of banknote collecting can capture pieces of history.

Also a reminder to us all that there could be hidden treasures in our attics.


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