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7 Facts About Australian Money

7 Facts You Never Knew About Our Aussie Dollar

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Our Aussie Dollar

Alex Wilson, SavingsGuide.com.au [edited by Duff Watkins]

We touch it, withdraw it, spend it, save it and plan how to get more of it.  Money is an intricate part of our lives.

But do you know this about your money?.

1. What happened to 1 and 2 cent coins?

Remember those 1 and 2 cent coins?  Made of bronze and always a pain-in-the-bum to carry around, bronze coins were removed from circulation in 1992.

Their fate?  Once collected, the coins were melted down to create the bronze medals awarded in the Sydney Olympics of 2000.

2. Australia developed the first ever plastic bank note

Paper money gets damaged and needs continual replacement.  So– to save money— Australia pioneered plastic money.

Australian dollar notes now last 4x longer than their paper counterparts.  Plus they are harder to counterfeit. They also withstand machine washing which is notorious for destroying currency world-wide.  All this means that our polymer invention is the future of printed money.

By the way, though the notes are made of plastic, they are capable of withstanding the heat of an iron – but only at a mild temperature.

3. ‘Royals’ or ‘Roos’?

In 1965, Sir Robert Menzies was the Prime Minister and Australia was switching from the English pound to its own Australian currency.

Sir Robert Menzies suggested the new currency be called ‘royals’ – further showing his loyalty to the monarch.  Eventually the dollar was agreed upon, though not after some other hysterical suggestions including: The Roo, The Digger, The Boomer, The Kanga, The Kwid, The Dinkum and more.

Personally, I wonder, if Canadians have a currency nicknamed the Loon, why can’t we pay for something in Roo’s?

4. People pay big money for little money 

The Australian mint often produces ‘limited edition’ coins and banknotes that are legal tender, like the rare $5 coin. This means that a coin worth $5 in a retail sense can be worth far more to investors as a collector’s item due to the scarcity of the coin.  Sounds funny but people may pay $1000 for a note or coin that actually has a legal value far less in the hope of eventually making more than the $1000 they paid.

The 50 cent coin, introduced in 1966 (which used be round) was originally made with 80% silver but as the value of silver increased the coins’ bullion value became more valuable than its face value of 50 cents and so were withdrawn from circulation in 1969 and replaced with the 12 sided coin we use today.

5. Fake $50s or real dough?

Polymer plastic notes are impossible to counterfeit, right?  Evidently not.  Some crafty criminals have managed to do it.  How to tell a real $50 note from a counterfeit?

To spot a fake $50 note, scratch a coin across the see-through windows of the bank note and see if the printed star comes off.  If it does, it’s fake.  Real notes have a star that cannot be removed because it’s within the polymer itself.

Other security measures found on Australian bank notes include:  micro printing, raised ink (you can actually feel the texture on the note), fluorescent ink (you will see the number ‘50’ on $20, $50 and $100 notes along with a square shape on $5 notes) and more.  You simply need an ultraviolet light to view.

6. It’s a crime to damage money

Australian money is the property of the Australian government (because they pay to produce it) so any intent to willfully deface, disfigure, mutilate or destroy any coin or note is technically punishable by law and carries a fine of up to $10,000 or 2 years in prison.

Think about that the next time you iron your dollar notes.

7. Money is not that dirty.

The bacteria found on bank notes is often believed to be extraordinary.  Research at the University of Ballarat indicates, however, that though coins and bank notes did indeed contain bacteria, it’s neither deadly nor overwhelming.  Germs are certainly present (surprisingly salmonella was high) but did not pose a concern to the researchers.


About Dr. Duff Watkins [www.execsearch.com.au]

international executive search consultant / author-- dispensing career advice about how the job market really works


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