It was billed as the next generation of banknotes – with improved security and top-to-bottom clear windows – but the numbers folk at the Reserve Bank missed one important step in the tech-heavy journey: spellcheck.
An anonymous tipster armed with eagle eyes, a magnifying glass and, presumably, a little free time, alerted radio stations to a typo on the new $50 bank note that has escaped everyone’s attention since 46 million of them were rolled out in October 2018.
The RBA has confirmed the word ‘responsibility’ is incorrectly spelled ‘responsibilty’ – without the third ‘i’.
The error is in a near-microscopic quote printed above Edith Cowan’s shoulder. It appears three times in a row.
“It is a great responsibility to be the only woman here, and I want to emphasise the necessity which exists for other women being here,” says the quote, first uttered after Cowan was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia in 1921.
The total value of the misprinted notes is $2.3 billion. The RBA issued a statement on Thursday morning saying it was aware of the typo and that it would be corrected at the next print run.
It is not yet known how long the RBA has known of the error.
The new notes, which still feature Australian heroes of social change Edith Cowan and David Unaipon, were revealed to the public in February last year and circulated in October.
RBA Governor Philip Lowe said at the time: “Improved security and ease of recognition underpin the design of the new $50 banknote.”
A bulletin from 2016 said the purpose of the new designs was to maintain public confidence in banknotes as a secure method of payment and store of wealth.
“The process has involved integrating artistic designs that reflect Australia’s cultural identity with a range of complex technical features designed to make the banknotes very difficult to counterfeit,” the bulletin said.
Next generation $10 and $5 notes are also in circulation. The new $20 note is expected to be released this year.
The designer of the bill, Garry Emery, of Emery Designs, declined to comment when contacted by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.
And it’s not just unfortunate for the RBA that there are 46 million flawed notes floating around. If the spelling error had been part of a smaller print run, some Australians could have stumbled on a small fortune in their wallets.
Australian banknote author Mick Vort-Ronald said printing errors were common, but typos were not. He said he had never seen this before in his 43 years writing about banknotes.
“You have to ask, whose responsibility is it to check the spelling?” Mr Vort-Ronald said.
He said some errors are worth thousands of dollars, but that this note was unlikely to be worth any more than $50.
But he said it would be an interesting variation and something new for collectors.
Belinda Downie, the owner of collectors CoinWorks, said buyers “love errors” because collecting is about saying “I’ve got something you don’t have”.
This article was originally published by the Sydney Morning Herald. Read the original here
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