A New Era – Polymer Currency Notes: 1988 Onwards
The First Polymer Note
In 1985, the RBA decided to trial the new technology in a Commemorative $10 note. This note was to be the RBA's contribution to the celebration of Australia's Bicentenary in January 1988.
These early designs were variations on the First Settlement theme chosen in the mid 1980s.
The RBA released the Commemorative $10 polymer currency note on Australia Day 1988.
Eleven ships of the First Fleet Re-enactment sailed into Sydney Harbour on 26 January 1988 to start the Australia Day celebrations.
Harry Williamson, designer of the $100 decimal note, was chosen to lead the design team, with a theme of 'settlement'.
This Commemorative $10 note was the first banknote in the world to be printed on a non-fibrous polymer substrate. It incorporated a Diffractive Optically Variable Device (DOVD), which featured Captain Cook.
One side of the note symbolised European settlement with HMS Supply, the first ship to drop anchor in Sydney Cove, and a medley of persons symbolising all who have contributed to Australia's development since 1788.
The other side of the first polymer note symbolised the original discovery and settlement of Australia some 40–60,000 years earlier. It depicts an Aboriginal youth, a Morning Star Pole and other designs including from Aboriginal artworks commissioned by the Bank.