In this clip, a convict talks about committing the crime of forgery. Skilled forgers were often caught making illegal copies of banknotes in Alice's era. The use of money was different from today. Early Australian settlements often lacked sufficient legal currency to support the colony's fledging economy, forcing the use of alternative means of monetary exchange. From 1825, English currency became the official currency of the colonies, using the imperial system of pounds, shillings and pence. It replaced the 'holey dollar' that Governor Macquarie had used as currency.
As a class, view the clip Pig forgery and discuss the concept of legal tender/money. Brainstorm alternative ways people pay for items and list some other ways that people pay for goods and services, such as bartering, the exchange of precious metals and providing goods for services.
- Students can use the following web links to research early Australian currency:
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 'About Australia: Our Currency', http://www.dfat.gov.au/facts/currency.html/
Reserve Bank of Australia, Museum of Australian Currency Notes, 'About the Museum', http://www.rba.gov.au/Museum/About/
Reserve Bank of Australia, Museum of Australian Currency Notes, 'Before Federation: To 1900: Currency Chaos', http://www.rba.gov.au/Museum/Displays/1788_1900_before_federation/currency_chaos.html
Sydenham, S and Thomas, R, Australian Currency [Online], (2008), http://www.kidcyber.com.au/topics/austcurrency1.htm/
- As a class, have students participate in a role-play of an imaginary colonial village market. Each student has the task of procuring basic food and grocery items. Students are randomly assigned roles and allocated different amounts of money and possessions depending on their class and status. As some students will have no money, they will need to find alternative means to pay for their items.
Each student should complete a character profile sheet using Student Activity Sheet H19.6 Money for goods.
- Alternatively, ask the students to research the currency of the early 1800s in Australia. The following questions will refine the focus of their research:
- What are some of the differences and similarities between colonial currencies and the type of currency we use today?
- How does the design of today's Australian banknotes stop them being counterfeited?
- What did the authorities do to make it difficult for forgers in the early 1800s in Australia?
- Ask the students to find an image or draw a colonial banknote/ promissory note from the early 1800s on a large A3 sheet of paper. Students should label the image with information about the style and font of the writing, the text or information on the note, any insignias or emblems, the layout and the colouring of the notes.
Use the following web link for guidance:
Reserve Bank of Australia, Museum of Australian Currency Notes, 'Before Federation: To 1900: Currency Chaos' http://www.rba.gov.au/Museum/Displays/1788_1900_before_federation/currency_chaos.html/
- As an extension activity, have students design their own currency for Australia today.
Student Activity Sheet: H19.6 Money for goods