Australian Decimal Coins and Banknotes

November 28, 2008

February 14th 1966 brought big changes to the Australian population in the way we saved and spent our money. This was the year of decimalization in which Australia moved from the British pounds, shillings and pence to our own Aussie dollar and cents.

The introduction brought a mix of coins and banknotes. Coins issued in 1966 were the round silver 50 cent, 20 cent, 10 cent, 5 cent, 2 cent and 1 cent. Banknotes issued were $1, $2, $10 and $20 with the $5 note being introduced in 1967. These new coin and banknote issues brought a true Australian theme to our currency which wasn't depicted previously. Each year brought more coins and notes but not all coins and notes were minted every year. Some years brought special commemorative issues and design changes. 1969 brought compositional change and a shape change to the 50 cent coin. All coins depict Queen Elizabeth II on their obverse side. With inflation rising in the 70's and 80's there came a demand for higher denomination notes and 1973 saw the introduction of the $50 note and in 1984 the $100 note.

One of the biggest changes was on May 14th 1984 when the 1 dollar note was replaced with a coin. This was because coins have a longer life than notes. Coins generally last in circulation 30 years whilst notes only a few before needing to be replaced. Then on June 20th 1988 a further change brought the $2 coin and the $2 note was withdrawn. This was of concern to the visually impaired who feared that they would not be able to differentiate between the one and two dollar coins. However, it was decided that the $2 coin be smaller, thicker and have intermittent edge reeding so it could be easily identified by touch.

Then in 1992 1 cent and 2 cent pieces became obsolete but were not replaced. We were then introduced to the term 'rounding' where purchases of 1 cents and 2 cents were rounded down and 3 cents and 4 cents were rounded up to 5 cents.

Australian banknotes were originally paper issues but in 1988 Australia introduced the world's first polymer note. We continued replacing all our note issues with the polymer substrate making our country the first to have an entire series of polymer banknote issues.

Posted by harrisk at November 28, 2008 2:14 PM
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