State Library images used on new $50 note

Wednesday 17 October 2018
  • The new $50 note celebrates Western Australian icon, Edith Cowan OBE
  • Photographs from State Library's collection sourced for banknote design 

The Reserve Bank of Australia has developed a new look $50 banknote which celebrates the life and achievements of one of Western Australia's most significant social workers, equal rights pioneer and politician, Edith Cowan OBE.

Edith Cowan was the first woman elected to an Australian Parliament as the Member for the seat of West Perth in the Legislative Assembly from 1921 to 1924. Her depiction on the $50 banknote is a fitting tribute to an extraordinary Western Australian woman.

Based on photographs from the State Library of Western Australia's collection, the next generation banknote features a portrait of Edith Cowan and her campaign brooch. The brooch depicts a cracked gumnut, which is thought to be symbolic of the seat of West Perth supposedly being a tough nut to crack for a woman at the time.

Also featured on the note are text excerpts from her maiden speech to the Parliament of Western Australia, and the 1923 Women's Legal Status Act which was one of Cowan's most important achievements.

The banknote will be in circulation from tomorrow (October 18). More information can be found on the Reserve Bank of Australia's website

Comments attributed to Culture and the Arts Minister David Templeman:

"It is pleasing that a remarkable Western Australian woman continues to be celebrated on our national currency.

"The addition of the cracked gumnut brooch image to the banknote design offers some insight into the tough challenges Cowan faced and her inspirational achievement in overcoming them.

"The State Library has been the community's custodian of the source image of the portrait of Edith Cowan that has graced the Australian $50 note for more than 20 years. It's wonderful that the State Library is the custodian of the source image of the gumnut brooch that will soon feature on the $50 banknote.

"The use of these photographs on the new $50 note is just one example of the many uses of the State Library's collection materials. The library's vast collection houses a number of items relating to WA's rich history and is accessible via the online catalogue, free to all."

Minister's office - 6552 5400

Last updated on: 18 October 2018