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A Guide to Dollar Bill

The introduction of decimal currency required the education of a nation. It was the job of the Decimal Currency Board, and an animated character Dollar Bill, to assist Australians with the transition from pounds, shillings and pence to dollars and cents.

Decimal currency was marked by a nationwide public education program designed to both inform and prepare Australians for the new currency system introduced on 14 February 1966. Central to the publicity campaign was an innovative television commercial featuring the animated character called Dollar Bill. Created by Monty Wedd and drawn for the commercial by animator Laurie Sharpe, Dollar Bill and his catchy decimal currency conversion jingle (sung to the tune of the Australian folksong ‘Click Go the Shears’, with lyrics by Ted Roberts) was an instant hit.

Currency Conversion Jingle

‘Out with the old and in with the new’(Lyrics by Ted Roberts)

In come the dollars and in come the cents
to replace the pounds and the shillings and the pence.
Be prepared folks when the coins begin to mix
on the 14th of February 1966.

Clink go the cents folks
clink, clink, clink. Changeover day is closer than you think.
Learn the value of the coins and the way that they appear
and things will be much smoother when the decimal point is here.

In come the dollars and in come the cents
to replace the pounds and the shillings and the pence.
Be prepared folks when the coins begin to mix
on the 14th of February 1966.

As well as appearing in television and radio commercials, Dollar Bill sent letters to schools across the country (via the Decimal Currency Board) outlining his background and recent history. As Dollar Bill explains in one of his letters, his family traces its origins to Bohemia, part of the present-day Czech Republic, where the dollar or ‘thaler’ originated in the 16th century.

Nomads from way back, the decimals had set up house in most countries of the world during the past 200 years and Dollar Bill was in Australia now to do just that.

Dollar Bill even attracted his own fan club, receiving around 500 letters from enthusiastic youngsters (many of whom requested free samples). Today, many Australians can still sing the jingle and have fond memories of their lessons from Dollar Bill about decimal currency.

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