Australia $100 - 1996.    Click to enlarge
New Note Series: One Hundred Dollars - 1996.
Issued: 15th May, 1996

Designed by Bruce Stewart, Dame Nellie Melba, opera singer of international acclaim features on the front of this note. At her peak, she was regarded as one of the most accomplished and famous sopranos of the time. Her efforts during World War I to raise funds for war charities earned her the title of Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. The interior of Her Majesty's Theatre, Sydney, is shown at the left, being the site of a special performance by her in 1903. Melba is in the foreground. The Australian Concert Tour programme of 1902 complete with a monogram designed by her is also shown.

On the back of this note, Sir John Monash, one of Australia's greatest soldiers is portrayed. Monash saw service at Gallipoli and afterwards in the European theatre; in 1918 he was appointed commander of the Australian Corps. Soldiers and cannon are shown to the right participating in a battle which led to the breaking of the Hindenberg Line, one of Monash's more spectacular victories. The " Rising Sun " badge of the Australian Army, a cavalry charge and Simpson and his donkey of Gallipoli fame are also shown.

Orientation bands to assist cash handlers in sorting notes are also included in the design.

AA96 $100 Front P55a, Mc701 & R616.
AA96 $100 Front P55a, Mc701 & R616
AA96 $100 Back P55a, Mc701 & R616.
AA96 $100 Back P55a, Mc701 & R616.
Security Features:

Those discrete to this note include:
(a) A clear window larger than that on lower denominations contains appropriately the lyre or song bird. The denomination numeral "100" is embossed twice. Both features are visible from either side of the note.
(b) When the note is held up to the light, the seven pointed Commonwealth Star becomes visible with four points on the front registering perfectly with three on the back.
(c) An image of the Australian Coat of Arms to the left of the denomination numeral on the front can be seen when it is held up to the light. This is similar to a watermark.
(d) The serial number is printed twice, in brown (top left) and in green (bottom right) on the back in differing fonts. Modern Extended is used at upper left and Butsch Grotesque is used at lower right of the note.
(e) Micro-printing of "100" 20 times in a rectangular box under the "lyre bird" on the Melba side and 33 times in the same position on the "Monash" side. Lines are in whole or in part.
(f) Intricate, multi-coloured fine-line patterns and images are present on each side.
(g) Serial numbers fluoresce when exposed to ultraviolet light. A box containing the denomination numeral appears under the printed denomination numeral at front right under ultraviolet light.

First and Last Prefixes:
Fraser / Evans -
1996 dated note:AA 96 (first) to JK 96 (last).
Macfarlane / Evans:
1998 dated note:AA 98 (first) to CF 98 (last).
1999 dated note:AA 99 (first) to JK 99 (last).
No notes were dated 2000 or 2001. Stock piling for Y2K ensured that sufficient supplies were still on hand.
Test Note - 1996.

It has been recently confirmed by the Reserve Bank that there is a variety of the 1996 $100 to be found in circulating notes within a prefix range of AN to CS.

These notes were printed as test notes to determine the acceptability of a modification to one of the materials in the opacifying ink. This ink is the one used to colour the clear substrate - it is not the final printing ink used for the design features. The latter are commercially available printing inks which need no modification for polymer substrate. It is understood that the opacifying ink is tailored to match the characteristics of polymer substrate.

Up to this point, the second letter of the prefix for all denominations and years has not been greater than "M". For this variety, an additional sheet of 32 notes was printed with prefixes ranging from AN to AZ, BN to BZ and CN to CS. The letter "O"continued to be used in the prefix structure. At first glance, these notes appear to fit the published prefix range of AA 96 to JK 96 but in practice they are an additional printing outside the conventional prefix ranges of AA to AM, BA to BM etc.

In fact, printing of the regular 1996 $100 was interrupted to print these test notes.

Not every number is used; the sequence goes from 999999 to 648001 or 351,999 notes per prefix. Theoretically this represents 11,263,968 notes although it is understood that about 10,000,000 notes were issued. Errors in production and notes used for physical evaluation would account for the difference.

On site testing of the modification to the opacifying ink was positive.

I am advised that there is no discernible difference between notes with and without the modification to the inks. The Reserve Bank advises that they would not have released the notes into general circulation if there were a discernible difference. This is understandable as it would not wish to have different notes circulating concurrently in the event that the different notes impair the integrity of the currency.

When the RBA was satisfied that there was no difference between the regular and the test notes, the test notes were released into circulation - small quantities of the notes in late 1996 and the balance in 1997. (This may also partly explain why 1997 $100ís were not printed for circulation.)

The Federation $5 of 2001 is understood to be the first production note for Australia to contain the modification. For several years now, notes for other countries produced by NPA incorporate this enhancement.

In 1997, the test was extended to include the $5 polymer note - refer to the
Re-coloured Five Dollars -1995. module for details.

Catalogue No:P55a and b being signature varieties.
Mc701 and Mc702 being signature varieties.
R616 and 618 being signature varieties.
Precise Date of Issue:15th May, 1996.
Numbers Issued:Not known. Maximum numbers (999,999) were not issued for every prefix.
Prefix Range:Refer above.
Signatures:1996 dated notes: P55a, Mc701 and R616.
Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia - Bernie Fraser
(18th September 1989 to 17th September, 1996.)
Secretary to the Treasury - Edward (Ted) Evans.
(24 March, 1993 to late 26th April, 2001.)

1997 to 1999 dated notes: P54b, Mc602 and R518.
Governor: Ian Macfarlane 18th September, 1996 to date.
Secretary : Evans as above.

Dimensions:158 x 65 mm. 7 mm longer than the $50.
Printer:Note Printing Australia on Guardian polymer substrate.
Specimens:AA 96 official specimens issued. Forty notes with an AA 96 000000 number but without the "SPECIMEN" overprint were released.
Replacements:No. Australia ceased to issue replacement notes in 1972.
Country Ranking:Australia is the first country to issue a NPA polymer note.
Printing Method:Intaglio.
Sheet Size:32 notes per sheet.
Product:For non - commemorative circulating notes, the product released is outlined under a separate heading at the end of the Australian section.
Pending Issue:

A further modified $100 will be introduced most likely within the next 12 months or so. People featured will have their name printed underneath (instead of relying solely upon their signature). Additionally, the official signature order on the existing $100 will be reversed. This change will coincide with the planned release of a Macfarlane - Henry signature combination.