Racing Roos was a past time that used to take place in Australia whilst the one dollar banknote was still in circulation. The game of “Racing Roos”, generally occurred at pubs and parties.
All the original one dollar decimal banknotes featured a metal thread running through the note from top to bottom as a security feature. Placement of the thread varied on different print runs hence some would be in the middle, some a bit to the left of centre and some a bit to the right. Some notes even had what was refered to as a side thread which was about one-quarter of the way in from the left hand edge.
When the one dollar note was held up to the light on the side featuring the aboriginal drawings the central kangaroo facing to the right was either over the line of the thread or behind it. Hence like anything in Australia which has a recognisable variable it was seen as a chance to gamble.
In the example below I have marked the ridge in the note created by the metal thread with black arrows. In this case it passes just forward of the eye of the kangaroo. His nose is just over the line. When held up to the light it shows as a distinct black line and judging the winner is easy.
In the following example the line marked by the arrows passes through the kangaroo’s shoulder and as he is far further across the line than the first example and therefore the winning kangaroo.
In Australian pubs it was quite common to sit at bar, purchase your first beer and leave the change on the bar mat in front of you. When your glass required refilling the bartender would simply pour you another and take the required amount from the money sitting in front of you. A great system as it meant that you rarely had to catch the bartenders eye to order nor break your conversation in order to pay. If you chanced to be sitting there with a one dollar note in front of you, your mates or even a stranger could call out , “Race Ya Roo”, to which you could either say yes or no without fear of recourse should you decline. If you accepted, then both parties to the game would grab their respective one dollar notes, hold them up to the light and who ever had the note with the kangaroo that was further across the line would win. This could entail several things. Sometimes the loser would buy the winner a beer, sometimes he would forfeit his note to the winner or sometimes the game was used to resolve other matters such as who would drive home after the pub.
It was a much-loved past time but unfortunately it was resigned to history after the introduction of the one dollar coin in 1985.
To get your own set of Racing Roos come and visit us at Noteworthy Collectibles