Auction preview: New Zealand’s oldest banknote expected to bring $130k

On Aug. 12, the oldest banknote issued by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand will be offered at Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ World Paper Money auction.

The piece of Kiwi history is Lot 30347 and has a starting bid of $39,180 Cdn., although it’s expected to bring “well over” its pre-sale estimate of $65,285-$130,600 Cdn.

Director of banknote auctions Manning Garrett said the 82-year-old note, with a face value of 10 shillings, has a serial number reading “Z000001”, showing it was the first bill printed by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.

The note was the first issued by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.

The note was the first issued by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.”It is unequivocally New Zealand’s first government-issued banknote,” Garrett told the New Zealand Herald. “There’s a big international following for banknotes like this.”

According to the auction catalogue, the lot is in Professional Coin Grading Service Very Choice New-64 condition and serves as “arguably the most important banknote known to exist for all of New Zealand.” Its pedigree traces back to A.D. Park, who was the country’s secretary of the treasury from 1929-1935. He was presented the note by the directors of the Reserve Bank when these notes were first issued in 1934.

Garrett said this issue is “quite rare in AU condition or better,” adding this would be a valuable note just for its condition alone, and the serial number moves it “into a category where it isn’t just a rare collectible item, it is also a tangible piece of New Zealand’s financial history.”


Another highlight, Lot 30081, is a newly discovered serial No. 1. The 1923 $2 Dominion of Canada note—in Paper Money Guaranty (PMG) Extremely Fine-40 Net condition—is described by auctioneers as a Canadian rarity with multiple attractions for collectors.

With only 20 graded by PMG, it’s evident the note is attractive in any condition. It’s also the last $2 note design prior to the establishment of the Bank of Canada. It has an estimate of $52,170-$78,282.

“There are many different issues of this type, but first issues are very desirable, especially those bearing a coveted Serial Number 1,” reads the auction catalogue.

“This ornate note faces up very well. Its intricate design features a portrait of Prince Edward of Wales wearing the Uniform for the Welsh Guards. Interestingly enough, the original photographer of the photo used for this design claimed that the Canadian Bank Note Company committed copyright infringement on his creative property. The CBNC claimed it was not intentional and a friendly settlement was sought to resolve the matter.”


This 1923 $2 Dominion of Canada note is expected to realize upwards of $78,280 Cdn.

According to auctioneers, the oral history from the consigning family states that the note was given to The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) when he was visiting Canada in 1923. He signed the note and presented it to his aide-de-camp, Fruity Metcalf. The aide-de-camp was in charge of the Prince’s visit to the Royal Family’s ranch in Alberta. The note made its was back to England and traded hands between friends of Metcalf before it entered the family of the current owners in 1986.

“In 1986, a friend of the current owner brought the note from England to Expo 86 in Vancouver and rather than sell it to a dealer, the hosting friend directly purchased the note. While the signature has not been authenticated, we feel we have gathered enough information to assume that it is likely that it is. It is fair to assume that the handful of other Dominion and Chartered #000001 notes that exist probably share a similar type of history. But it is certainly rare to be able to trace back a note’s pedigree to its original presentation to The Prince of Wales.”

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