It has a face value of ten shillings but a price tag of Aus$3.5m (£2.3m) at Coinworks, the specialist dealers and auctioneers of Melbourne.
This banknote, the first ever printed for
the official Federation paper currency of Australia, is being
offered for private sale.
It was discovered in 1999 among the effects
of the Honourable Anne Judith Denman, who had died 12 years
earlier. How she came by note M000001 is a matter of
On November 5, 1910 the Commonwealth
Gazette announced a competition for the design of new ten
shilling, £1 and £5 notes, the first official Federation paper
currency. The prize was £50 for each denomination.
However, no entries were considered suitable
and so note-printers Bradbury Wilkinson & Co were given the
task. Three years later the Commonwealth Government launched its
distinctive new currency.
The Number One note was hand numbered at an
official ceremony, also pictured here, held on May 1, 1913, at the
Government Printing House in Melbourne (now Queen's Warehouse).
The dignitaries present included Prime
Minister Andrew Fisher and Governor General Lord Denman, who was
accompanied by his children Judith and Thomas.
Above: the presentation ceremony on May
1, 1913, with Judith Denman, then aged five, holding
the note that had just been presented to her by Australian Prime
Minister Andrew Fisher, who is standing directly behind the note,
holding her hand.
The honour of hand-numbering the first note,
M000001, was passed to the Governor General's five-year-old
daughter Judith Denman, and the note was subsequently presented to
her by the Prime Minister.
Lord Denman numbered and received note
number M000002, and seven-year-old Thomas numbered and received
Andrew Fisher purchased notes M000004 and
M000005, for which he paid the face value of £1 with a sovereign
from his pocket.
It was intended that the hand-numbered notes
M000006 to M000500 would be allocated to members of parliament and
other dignitaries by way of a ballot.
As only 22 hand-numbered examples have
appeared over the last 50 years, it is clear that not all were
taken up, with many of the notes slipping into circulation and
ultimately being destroyed.
Lord Denman resigned his position as
Governor General in 1914 and the family returned to England.
As has now been discovered, his daughter
kept the note all her life and it turned up in a letter file housed
in a contemporary Government House envelope marked in pencil
"Judith's 10/- Note May 1st 1913".
The Number One Note, which last sold for
Aus$2m in 2008, is offered with the accompanying historical
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