1914 £1 R20bF Collins/Allen WWI Emergency 'Rainbow' Issue Fine

1914 £1 R20bF Collins/Allen WWI Emergency 'Rainbow' Issue Fine

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  • One of the true glamour notes of Australian numismatics!
  • Only a handful of examples known to exist.
  • An ‘emergency currency’ issue.
  • Iconic Australian WWI note in Fine condition.
  • Issued from November 1914 to April 1915.
  • Rarely seen on the market - secure yours now!

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Emergency WWI issue – the legendary Rainbow Pound

Sought after for its rich history, immense beauty and unquestionable rarity, the Rainbow Pound is acknowledged as one of the true glamour notes of Australian numismatics. An ‘emergency currency’ issue, the Rainbow Pound is also a genuine artefact of Australia’s Baptism of Fire in the First World War. Indeed, this legendary rarity owes its very existence to the outbreak of hostilities in August 1914.

When Britain declared war on Germany, Australia was automatically at war. As in times of crisis throughout history, the war sparked mass hoarding of currency in Australia – particularly silver and gold coins. With the Commonwealth also requiring more currency for public works, demand for banknotes surged – especially for the main circulating note denomination, the £1. This created a major problem for Australian authorities.

When Treasury established its own note printing department, it was deemed sufficient to purchase only one printing machine. This decision came back to haunt Treasury in no uncertain terms upon the outbreak of WWI. The Note Printing Branch had no capacity to meet the dramatic increase in demand for banknotes! An emergency currency issue was required – the Rainbow Pound was born.

Distinguished by light blue and orange vertical strips on the obverse, and mauve and orange strips on the reverse – hence its name – the Rainbow Pound was issued from November 1914 to April 1915. Although four million notes were printed, with about two-and-a-half million issued, the Rainbow Pound was destined for a very short lifespan in circulation.

Due to the desperate need for currency, the note had been created in haste. There was no time to produce steel engraved printing plates, nor source traditional banknote paper. As a result, the Rainbow Pound lacked basic security features. Consequently, it was counterfeited extensively, and in April 1915, the Commonwealth Treasury asked the banks to withdraw the notes as quickly as possible. By 1924, only 9,111 notes had been unaccounted for and – nearly a century later – the Rainbow Pound is known by the tiniest number of examples.

It is no surprise that the Rainbow Pound emerges on the market, on average, perhaps twice every three years. With this in mind, the chance to secure this iconic Australian WWI note in pleasing Fine condition demarnds the most serious of consideration. For more Banknotes visit our collections page.

More Information
Reference NumberR20bF
Banknote TypePaper
Country of IssueAustralia
Year of Issue1914
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