A Guide to Dollar Bill
Decimal currency was marked by a nationwide public education program designed to both inform and prepare Australians for the new currency system introduced on 14 February 1966. Central to the publicity campaign was an innovative television commercial featuring the animated character called Dollar Bill. Created by Monty Wedd and drawn for the commercial by animator Laurie Sharpe, Dollar Bill and his catchy decimal currency conversion jingle (sung to the tune of the Australian folksong ‘Click Go the Shears’) was an instant hit.
As well as appearing in television and radio commercials, Dollar Bill sent letters to schools across the country (via the Decimal Currency Board) outlining his background and recent history. As Dollar Bill explains in one of his letters, his family traces its origins to Bohemia, part of the present-day Czech Republic, where the dollar or ‘thaler’ originated in the 16th century.
Nomads from way back, the decimals had set up house in most countries of the world during the past 200 years and Dollar Bill was in Australia now to do just that.
Dollar Bill even attracted his own fan club, receiving around 500 letters from enthusiastic youngsters (many of whom requested free samples). Today, many Australians can still sing the jingle and have fond memories of their lessons from Dollar Bill about decimal currency.