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Commemorative 10 dollars 1988 bicentennial banknote

By CAA    |   Monday, 6 January 2020

On January 27, 1988, the Reserve Bank of Australia released for the first time the commemorative 10 dollars 1988 banknote. It was developped by the Reserve Bank of Australia, The University of Australia and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation to enhance the security of australian currency and it was the first modern polymer banknote issued worldwide.


Since the decision to change from the Australian pound to a decimal currency in 1966, a lot of forgeries of the australian ten dollars note were found in circulation. To help prevent fraud, polypropylene polymer banknotes were a good alternative offering more security features including fluorescent ink, transparent window, diffractive optically variable device and more.

Since polymer was introduced, the Reserve Bank of Australia confirmed that:

For a long time now Australia has had one of the lowest counterfeiting rates in the world. One of the reasons for this is the different security features that we have on our banknotes, which make it harder for a counterfeiter to copy them.

Ten dollars 1988 - Banknote of Australia

From production to circulation

First release happened on Australia's national day in 1988. The Reserve Bank of Australia rushed the production of the banknotes to be ready for that day, but it have contributed to some communication and production mistakes. For example, Aussies scratched off the optically variable device like it was a lottery ticket causing the suspending and recalling of the 10 dollars commemorative banknotes for recylcing.

Second release happened on October 24, 1988. The banknote was slightly modified, including the optically variable device. First issue banknotes is recognizable by looking at the 3rd and 4th numbers of the serial number. They can be either 93, 94 or 96.


The front symbolises European settlement and it includes the signatures of Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia Robert Johnston and the Secretary to the Treasury Bernie Fraser. The design depicts the HMS Supply and a group of different people: an early colonial officer and his wife, convict woman, surveyor, village woman, gold digger, pioneer woman, bushranger, urban woman, urban child, shearer, Chinese worker, kanaka (island worker), camel driver, Boer War soldier, aviatrix, depression swaggy, World War II sailor, World War II female factory worker, migrant family, Asian female worker and construction worker.

The first known landing in Australia by Europeans was by Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon in 1606. Twenty-nine other Dutch navigators explored the western and southern coasts in the 17th century, and dubbed the continent New Holland. Macassan trepangers visited Australia's northern coasts after 1720, possibly earlier. Other European explorers followed and, in due course, navigator Lieutenant James Cook wrote that he claimed the east coast of Australia for Britain when on Possession Island in 1770, without conducting negotiations with the existing inhabitants.

The first governor, Arthur Phillip, was instructed explicitly to establish friendship and good relations with the Aborigines, and interactions between the early newcomers and the ancient landowners varied considerably throughout the colonial period

The back side symbolises the original discovery and settlement of Australia some 40,000 - 60,000 years earlier, and it includes the serial numbers and a design of an Aboriginal and a Morning Star Pole.


  • Release dates: January 27 and October 24, 1988
  • Number issued: ~17 million
  • Printer: Note Printing Australia
  • Banknote size: 155 mm x 77.5 mm
  • Sheet size: 24 notes per sheet

Ten dollars 1988 - Price guide and values

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