Sunday, January 10, 2016

People on Australian Banknotes, Part 1: $5 and $10

Beginning a new series, a brief look at the people on the Australian banknotes, both the current polymer notes (started in 1992 and a full set for all denominations in circulation by 1996), and those preceding the polymer notes.


Queen Elizabeth II:

A portrait of Queen Elizabeth II is shown on the front of the $5 banknote together with a sprig of eucalyptus. The portrait is drawn from photographs commissioned by the Reserve Bank in 1984. The Queen gave approval to use this portrait on an Australian banknote in 1988, and it appeared on the first $5 polymer banknote on 7 July 1992.

Sir Joseph Banks:

Sir Joseph Banks (1743–1820) was with Captain James Cook at the landing at Botany Bay in 1770. He played a major role in exploring and collecting many aspects of natural science in his travels with Cook. Though returning to England, Banks remained influential in the administration of the colony and in botanical studies of Australia.

Caroline Chisholm:

Caroline Chisholm (1808–1877) first arrived in New South Wales in 1838. She worked to establish better conditions, including suitable employment and accommodation, for young migrant women. Her work expanded to include facilitating the passage to Australia of families. What Australia needed most, in her view, were 'good and virtuous women'.

The $5 banknote featured a woman, other than the Monarch, for the first time on Australia's currency notes. The portrait of Caroline Chisholm is set against a background of the women and children, sailing ships and Sydney foreshore of her time.

Sir Henry Parkes:

Sir Henry Parkes,(1815-1895), the "Father of Federation", long advocated federation and breathed life into the ailing movement with a rousing speech in Tenterfield, New South Wales, in 1889. He continued to work towards this goal but died in 1896. 

To the right of Parkes, are architectural drawings of the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne which was the site of the first Commonwealth Parliament in 1901. Below this is a scene of the opening of Australia's First Federal Parliament based on a painting once again by Tom Roberts who was commissioned to record the opening. His Royal Highness The Duke of Cornwall and York (later to be King George V) who can be seen in the foreground, performed the honours. At the bottom is the Federation Pavilion in Sydney's Centennial Park which was specially constructed for the celebrations. To the left of Parkes is the Tenterfield School of Arts building, the site of his rousing speech in 1889. The six State badges are at the bottom left.

Catherine Spence:

Catherine Spence (1825-1910) was a journalist and social reformer active in the cause of state children, a novelist and a prominent supporter of electoral reform. Although unsuccessful, she was the first woman to run for electoral office in Australia, a candidate for the Australasian Federal Convention of 1897. 

To the right on the banknote are portraits of prominent campaigners for Federation, one from each of the six colonies viz Clark (Tasmania), Barton (New South Wales), Forrest (Western Australia), Deakin (Victoria), Kingston (South Australia) and Griffith (Queensland). Barton became Australia's first Prime Minister, Deakin was Prime Minister on three occasions and Griffith was the first Chief Justice of the High Court.

To the left is a building of the South Australian Children's Department, Adelaide, with which Spence was closely involved for almost 40 years. A spray of wattle, a sun burst and the stars of the Southern Cross complete the back.


Francis Greenaway: 

Francis Greenway (1777–1837) was convicted of forging a contract and transported to New South Wales in 1814. A trained architect, Greenway was soon employed by Governor Macquarie in the planning and supervision of public buildings. His work included the Hyde Park Barracks and St James Church, Macquarie lighthouse at South Head and St Matthews Church, at Windsor. 

Henry Lawson: 

Despite a harsh and impoverished childhood and an acute hearing problem, Henry Lawson (1867–1922) became one of Australia's best known authors. His writings captured the mateship and hardships of the 'underdog' in the gold fields and outback sheep country. 

The profile of Henry Lawson on the $10 note was accompanied by scenes of his childhood years, mainly from the gold town of Gulgong in New South Wales. These scenes were identified from photographs in the Holtermann Collection which came to light in 1951. 

Andrew Barton "Banjo" Patterson:

Andrew Barton “Banjo” Patterson (1864-1941) was an Australian bush poet, journalist and author whose many ballads and poems about Australian life focused on the rural and outback areas. His more notable poems include "Waltzing Matilda", "The Man from Snowy River" and "Clancy of the Overflow". 

The note incorporates several references to Paterson’s life and work: 

· The portrait of Banjo Paterson is based on a photograph taken at the time of his return from the Boer War in 1900. As a war correspondent, he filed graphic accounts of the fighting for the Sydney Morning Herald, Melbourne Age, and also the international news agency Reuters. 

· Facing the portrait, the horseman reflects Paterson’s lifelong enthusiasm for horses and horsemanship, which resulted in his famous equestrian ballads. 

· The horseman is rounding up ‘brumbies’ (wild horses) which are seen emerging over Paterson’s left shoulder. According to the Reserve Bank of Australia, they are based on pictures that appeared in The Australian Newspaper in 1870 and The Illustrated Sydney News in 1875. 

· The images are inspired by ‘The Man From Snowy River’ – underneath are the famous poem’s opening lines: There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around That the colt from old Regret had got away 

· The ‘Waltzing Matilda’ logo, seen right of Paterson’s hat, was taken from Marie Cowan’s sheet music for Waltzing Matilda published in 1903. In possibly the first product placement ever, Cowan changed the words of the chorus to promote Billy Tea. 

· Lines from ’The Man from Snowy River’ also appear next to Paterson’s portrait in tiny print. 

Dame Mary Gilmore: 

Dame Mary Gilmore (1865-1962) is depicted twice on the banknote, once as a young woman and in the background, a Dobell portrait of her in her later years. Gilmore was a celebrated author, poet, and social reformer campaigning for voting rights for women, relief of the poor and disadvantaged through a government welfare system and improved treatment of aborigines. In the 1890's she spent several years in a utopian community established in Paraguay. 

A bullock dray with bales of wool is also shown. Images of homesteads or other outback buildings are shown at far left and right. An outback woman with a hat features as the orange merges into the blue towards the left. The profile of an extract from one of Gilmore's poems is at the extreme left: "No foe shall gather our harvest or sit on our stockyard rail".

Portrait of Dame Mary Gilmore by William Dobell, 1957

"The painting is far more important than the sitter. This painting will still be carrying my identity when my own work is forgotten."
- Dame Mary Gilmore 1957

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