Pound note, serial no. K 33 204418, signed by E C Riddle and J Heathershaw, issued by Treasury / Commonwealth Bank, Australia, 1927-1933
At the time of Federation in 1901 the colonies of Australia used British currency. It was many years before the first Australian currency was designed and produced: 10 years for coins, and 13 years for banknotes. A competition for the first series of banknotes was announced in October 1910; among its instructions was a suggestion that notes bearing the nation's coat of arms and with 'Australian scenery on the back' would be given preference by the judges. The pound note here is an example of the second series. The use of banknotes to celebrate Australian events, wealth, and achievement continued through subsequent notes to the modern series, which celebrate influential personalities from Australia's past.
Many insights into an issuing society can be gleaned from the decorative themes and motifs chosen as important, and deemed to reflect the values of a government and the people they represent or wish to persuade. As betrayers of prejudices and windows to values, banknotes offer an unparalleled sifting of the choices available at any one time; there is much scrutiny of themes and motifs, and much deliberation, prior to production.
This pound note from 1927-1933 features a reproduction of a 1902 oil painting by E. Phillips Fox (1865-1915) depicting Captain Cook's 1770 landing in Botany Bay. At the time, this event was seen by the government and many Australians as a cause for celebration, without thought for its disastrous impact upon the Aboriginal population.
Ref. Michael P. Vort-Ronald, 'Australian Banknotes', South Australia, 1983
Commonly considered as Commonwealth Bank issue, this Australian pound note is actually a Treasury issue, but the Note Issue Board was controlled by the government-owned Commonwealth Bank.
Pound notes bearing signatures of both Riddle and Heathershaw were issued from 30 November 1927 to January 1933.
The painting featured on the reverse of the note is a reproduction of an Emanuel Phillips Fox (1865-1915) painting from 1902 titled 'Landing of Captain Cook at Botany Bay, 1770'. In 1901 Phillips Fox was commissioned by the Trustees of the National Gallery of Victoria to paint a historical picture of Cook's landing at Botany Bay, for which he was paid from the Gilbee bequest. Phillips Fox travelled to England in 1902 to finish the painting. 'Landing of Captain Cook at Botany Bay, 1770' is the result of this commission.
Vort-Ronald, Michael P. 'Australian banknotes distinctive Australian Government issues, 1913-1966, South Australia, 1983.