Antarctica currency is probably the nearest you will get to the true meaning of cold hard cash. As strange as it may seem, there is an organization, the Antarctica Overseas Exchange Office, who prints banknotes for Antarctica. Of course it is not actually possible to buy a few hundred Antarctica dollars and pop over there and pick up some ice cream, frozen yoghurt, some frozen chicken and a snow cone or two. However, these banknotes are technically money or currency which ever you prefer to call it.
The project was the vision of David Hamilton who first had the idea in 1992 to produce a series of commemorative notes to sell as a “fund raiser” for Antarctican research and humanitarian projects. Since then, with this goal still in mind, the Antarctica Overseas Exchange office has produced some of the most beautiful and amazing notes ever seen in the banknote collecting world; and I promise you there are some amazing and beautiful banknotes (bills) printed by different countries (especially Romania)
These Antarctica notes depict some amazing wildlife, scenery, and history (including historical figures) from one of the coldest places (continents) on earth.
When the project first started one criticism of this project was that a banknote for Antarctica (not foremost in the minds as a center of commerce) was simply not needed and would have no use. The contrary view and fortunately one that won through was the fact that these notes would help fund valuable research and humanitarian projects there. This has proven to be correct as the sale of these notes to banknote collectors all over the world have helped not only fund many projects, but has given the banknote collectors a beautiful set of notes showing off the splendor of this amazing continent.
One question that always comes up when I offer these notes for sale is the fact that as you can not spend them there (this topic will be discussed more later) they are not technically money or bills of exchange. However, they actually do have, just like any other banknotes (bills), have a redemption value for cash – in this case American dollars. The Antarctica Overseas Exchange Office will on demand redeem them for face value in US dollars (there is however a 6 year time limit to do so) If one thinks of the recent fiasco in Zimbabwe with banknotes, their bills at one time had a 2 year redemption timeframe and in reality it was only a few days before inflation wiped out the value completely.
The first Antarctica banknotes were issued in 1996 and due to their popularity all are now completely sold out
(there are only limited print runs of all notes issued in a series) with the exception of the $2 bill which was only issued (for some reason) in 2009. This first series of notes, as all subsequent issues, were printed by British American Banknote Company and were printed like regular banknotes using high quality paper, the use of microtext (a line of text repeating the word Antarctica in several languages), full color imaging, optical refraction device and an area for special security features. Just like any other notes printed around the world for other countries, including the USA.
This first series featured a $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 bills; with many interesting themes, including Adelie penguins, a stunning Antarctica fford, crabeater seals an albatross gliding over the ocean, and killer whales. Other notes in the series include a portrait picture of Robert Falcon Scott (who gave his life in search of the pole) maps of the Antarctican land, a picture of Roald Amundsen (who was the first to the pole) and the Norwegian flag. Finally, the stunning final note in the series the $100 bill which featured an Antarctican view and weather science, specifically the Ozone hole detection.
Sadly this series of notes (except the $2) has completely sold out, but in 2009 a nice specimen set was issued in a
very limited quantity and a few of these sets still remain; a rare final opportunity to get these notes in your collection; albeit a specimen set.