(This is part 2 of our two part blog series on Antarctica banknotes. Here’s a link to part 1: Cold Hard Cash from Antarctica – Part 1.)
In 1999 to 2001 this series of notes were reissued, but in a smaller and more regular banknote size as one criticism was the fact that the notes were too large – especially for some collector’s folders or storage sleeves. This series is now almost all sold out as well, there are a few dealers with limited inventory, but is eagerly being sought and brought by collectors now who do not want to miss out on not only the last paper money series, but the last in these original designs.
The reason I said paper money series is because in 2007 Antarctica Overseas Exchange Office made a decision to go over to the newer polymer notes (polymer biaxially-oriented polypropylene – BOPP – to give it its’ full name; I will stick to Polymer) Polymer notes are state of the art banknote printing and not only does it offer a much longer life in regular circulation, it also offers much more opportunity for brighter colors and detailed depictions to be printed on the notes – which when you think of the beauty of the subjects available this make great sense and offers the collector a new type and more beautiful note to collect. The first in the “polymer” series were a collection of 3 notes, being the $1, $2, and $3 and issued in 2007. These were simply stunningly beautiful notes especially the new $1 bill, which portrayed the great adelie penguins in all their glory (I specifically like the depictions of the penguins sliding down the ice) The $2 and the $3 while not so strikingly colorful had interesting historical portraits of James Ross and an outline of New Zealand and Antarctica lands showing their territorial claim to this frozen continent. The $3 similarly has a portrait of King Haakon VII of Norway and on the back an outline of Norway and Antarctica showing their territorial claim to the continent.
While the above was a short series it was an interesting collection and with the 2008 series the same three notes were used, but this time a bright vertical stripe was added to the right side of the note, enhancing the coloration of these notes. In addition the series was extended with firstly an strikingly green colored $5 bill featuring Brittania and the Great Auk. Slightly out of order the next issue was a pretty purple issue of the $20 bill. This bill features Captain Frank Worsley and an interesting coastal outline of the continent showing the sea area with islands and interesting facts (such as where Endurance sank)
The $10 was issued in 2009 and features Captain Robert Falcon Scott (A name everyone of course know in connection to the Antarctica and the South Pole) and a scientific station on the front. However, the back of the note is probably the most unusual of all the notes ever issued in any of the series. It shows part of the “Scott Window” at Binton Church in Warwickshire, England. A note you would have to see to appreciate the amazing and unusual depiction. It is not only fascinating, but interesting to realize that his adventures to the South Pole are captured in stainless glass on an English Church window.
Finally, I could not leave without explaining the fact that these notes have actually been used in Antarctica. This organization uses the funds raised from selling these notes to fund scientific projects and some of the scientists have “for fun” used them in trade with other scientists there. In some advertising literature for these notes it states “We encourage you to buy and use your Antarctican notes in transactions between collectors or on you next visit to Antarctica. Representatives of the territorial governments now in Antarctica may not recognize these notes, even in Antarctica, so please ask first before attempting to use them in a transaction in Antarctica.
Since first writing this article, The Antarctic notes are becoming much rarer and many are much sought after collector’s items. In addition they have now issued some amazing notes from; Easter Islands, Galapagos Islands, Kerguelen Islands (Desolation Island), New Jason Islands.
Footnote: There are also an exciting issue of notes from Arctic Territories – these notes are issued by another company, but are every bit as beautiful and feature, Polar Bears, Foxes, Wolves, and more. A subject for my next blog?