A.B. “Banjo” Paterson- The Man On Our Ten Dollars Banknote

So here is a little story about one of my all time favorite Australian characters and legends. A.B. “Banjo” Patterson.

Buddy, cobber, mate, a few words that I would apply, as his writings and sentiments have long-held a place of special meaning in my life. He is the quintessential Australian poet and novelist and widely regarded as one of the finest of his time.

An early photograph of Banjo Paterson

An early photograph of Banjo Paterson

He was born on 17th February 1864 as Andrew Barton Paterson and many people have wondered where the “Banjo” in his name came from as he almost certainly never played one. Story has it that in 1885 when he first started submitting his poetry to The Bulletin in Sydney for publication, he did so under the pseudonym, “The Banjo”, which was also the name of his favourite horse, a racehorse owned by his family. A name that would stick with him for all eternity.

His early education was from the station governess at Narambla Station and at the small country school in Binnalong. Later he was schooled in Sydney at Gladesville. No matter the quality or the sources of education he was exposed to his ability as a writer blossomed and carried him onward throughout his life as correspondent, journalist and author. Banjo was a bit of a knocker as well. He clearly didn’t mind taking a crack at the then social structure of Australian society when he penned, “A Bushman’s Song”, wherein he lent his support to the drovers and shearers of the day over the squatters and absentee landlords. Australia’s first radical?

Cover of the 1905 book published with ballads and songs from Banjo

Cover of the 1905 book published with ballads and songs from Banjo

His writings were to be held in highest regard for their time along side of other Australian literary greats such as Adam Lindsay Gordon (this guy was a true larrikin renown for recklessness and daring) and Henry Lawson. Poems such as “Waltzing Matilda” (once considered as a national anthem), “The Man From Snowy River” , “Clancy Of The Overflow” and “The Road To Gundagai” are among his best known. “The Man From Snowy River” was in immortalised in the 1982 film by George Miller and stared the international star Kirk Douglas alongside other Australian greats such as Jack Thompson, Tony Bonner, Gus Mercurio and Sigrid Thornton.

The cottage where Banjo paterson lived during the 1870s and 1880s

The cottage where Banjo Paterson lived during the 1870s and 1880s

He was in truth a city bloke who worked as a solicitor in Sydney and his accounts of the life in the bush were highly romanticized as opposed to those of Henry Lawson who gave a much grimmer account of early Australian outback hardships. He left his studies in law to take up the pen as a journalist and war correspondent were he succeeded admirably covering both the Boer War and the Chinese Boxer Rebellion. In 1914 he left for the Great War in the hope of working as a war correspondent out of England. He was refused and took up the post of ambulance driver. On his return to Australia he enlisted in the A.I.F.(Australian Infantry Forces) and was granted a Lieutenants commission. From there he spent the remaining war years in the Middle East rising to the rank of Major. The depiction of him on the Ten Dollars banknote is from the period shortly after his return from the Boer War. He was not your average Joe by any streak of the imagination as his spare time interests including pearl diving and crocodile hunting. Just your everyday Aussie bloke I hear you say.

He was honored when his image was selected to become the face of the Ten Dollars Polymer banknote taking over from Henry Lawson who had this honour on the Ten Dollars Paper banknote.

The ten dollar polymer banknote from Australia with the portrait of A.B. Banjo Paterson.

The ten dollar polymer banknote from Australia with the portrait of A.B. Banjo Paterson.

As a part of the security features on the ten dollars polymer banknote the words from, “The Man From Snowy River” are printed in micro print with the words ‘TEN DOLLARS’ printed between each stanza. The micro printing can be seen behind his head and hat. Not very clear here as you really require some serious magnification to see it properly. More than a small headache for counterfeiters.

Detailed close up  of the micro printing on the ten dollars banknote showing the words to 'The Man From Snowy River'.

Detailed close up of the micro printing on the ten dollars banknote showing the words to ‘The Man From Snowy River’.

The best known first verse from the poem is:

There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around

That the colt from Old Regret had got away,

And had joined the wild bush horses — he was worth a thousand pound,

So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.

All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far

Had mustered at the homestead overnight,

For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,

And the stock-horse snuffs the battle with delight.

His book “The Man From Snowy River and Other Verses” has consistently outsold all other books of Australian poetry for the last 100 years. In itself an awesome achievement. In 1981 he was additionally honored on a postage stamp. In 2014 Australia Post did another series of stamps titled ‘Bush Ballads’ which featured his works.

2014 Stamp release by Australia Post featuring Australian Bush Ballads

2014 Stamp release by Australia Post featuring Australian Bush Ballads

He died an Australian legend and statesman just short of his 77th birthday on 5th February 1941.

Interestingly as an aside, Dame Mary Gilmore who appears on the other side of the note was at one time courted by the larrikin poet Adam Lindsay Gordon but after a lengthy period of pursuing this well-connected socially acceptable woman, his love remained unrequited and he eventually married another. As a politician he no doubt saw that an alliance with Mary Gilmore was highly advantageous to his career. Gordon himself would commit suicide at the early age of 37.

Notable works:

Clancy of the Overflow (1889)
The Man from Snowy River (1890)
In Defence of the Bush (1892)
The Man from Ironbark (1892)
Waltzing Matilda (1895)
Hay and Hell and Booligal (1896)
Mulga Bill’s Bicycle (1896)
T.Y.S.O.N. (1898)
We’re All Australians Now (1915)
A Bush Lawyer (1933)

You can visit us here at Noteworthy Collectibles to see a range of Ten Dollar Notes to suit everyones budget!

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