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Dollar Bill Turns 50 Years Old

The Role of Dollar Bill

The animated character of Dollar Bill appeared in a series of advertisements to explain decimal currency and help Australians adjust to this major change. He was the face of one of the most successful public awareness campaigns in the nation’s contemporary history.

A nationwide public education program was designed to both inform and prepare Australians for the new currency system. As the change would affect all members of the community - from shopkeepers and business owners to school-age children - the education program needed to be engaging and accessible. Central to the program was an innovative television commercial in which Dollar Bill told people to ‘be prepared’, explained the concept of decimal currency, illustrated how calculations would be done, described the benefits of the new system and showed people the new banknotes and coins.

Dollar Bill was created by Monty Wedd and drawn 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) were an instant hit. The commercial featured the voices of actors Kevin Golsby as Dollar Bill and Ross Higgins as Mr Pound.

In addition to the television advertisements, a wide range of brochures and leaflets were issued explaining the conversion to decimal currency, the changeover arrangements and the effects of the new system on the price of various goods and services. Other educational material included games and play money for use by school students and money handlers.

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.

The Life of Dollar Bill

As part of the public education campaign, Dollar Bill was given an identify. A story about his fictional life was created. And as his persona was embraced by the public, he even developed a fan club.

Portrait of Dollar Bill
Name: Dollar Bill
Born 1965, Australia. 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.
Known for Explaining decimal currency during the period of its introduction to Australia. The change in currency began on 14 February 1966.
Filmography: Numerous television appearances.
Creator: Cartoonist and animator, Monty Wedd.
Voice: Kevin Golsby as Dollar Bill, and Ross Higgins
as the man instructed by Dollar Bill. Golsby
and Higgins later performed together in
The Naked Vicar Show (7 Network, 1977–1978)
and Kingswood Country (7 Network, 1980–1984).
Fan Club: In September 1965 the Decimal Currency Board reported receiving 500 fan letters for Dollar Bill from children.

Meet the Voice of Dollar Bill

Kevin Golsby was the voice of Dollar Bill. Kevin went on to become one of Australia’s most memorable voices and a popular entertainer. His voice is also familiar through numerous televisions commercials, and he is known to many for his roles in the popular Australian satirical radio and television program The Naked Vicar Show, the enduring television sitcom Kingswood Country and regular appearances in drama series such as Division Four and A Country Practice. (See his extensive filmography in IMDb.)

Bank staff met up with Kevin Golsby to seek his recollections – fifty years on – of the introduction of decimal currency. View this interview.

Read Transcript


Dollar Bill In come the dollars, 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 February 1966.
Pound Note Who are you?
Dollar Bill I’m Dollar Bill and I’ve come to tell everyone that decimal currency will be here from 14th February 1966.
Kevin Golsby Who am I? I’m Kevin Golsby, the actor who performed the voice of Dollar Bill. The voice of Mr Pound, Percy Pound, was played by Ross Higgins, well-known for his portrayal of a certain character, Ted Bulpitt, in television’s Kingswood Country.
Pound Note But why are we changing? What’s wrong with the old pound, shillings and pence?
Kevin Golsby We were all told that there a new currency would be upon us; it wasn’t going to be the Royal as was chosen by our present Prime Minister at the time; fortunately, it wasn’t. It was chosen as the dollar, so what better name could there be for a character than Dollar Bill? He was a portly little man, so I had to do a portly little voice. He knew what he was doing, he knew what he was saying; he was something of an authority. Little did I realise, of course, little did I realise that Dollar Bill may be my everlasting brush with fame, and I’m delighted to say that.
Dollar Bill 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 February 1966.

The Creator: ‘Monty’ Wedd

Montague ‘Monty’ Thomas Archibald Wedd (1921-2012), was a well-known illustrator, animator, author and historian. A pioneering figure in post-war comics, he was renowned for his historical accuracy and period detail. One of his most widely recognisable works was the character “Dollar Bill”, created for the Decimal Currency Board to teach the Australian public about their new currency in 1965-66.

Born in Glebe in 1921, Wedd worked as a designer and illustrator for a furniture manufacturer after leaving school. He was designing furniture and advertisements for Grace Bros before he enlisted in the army in 1941. He subsequently transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force, attaining the rank of Leading Aircraftman (34 Squadron).

After the war Wedd completed an arts course at East Sydney Technical College under the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme. Whilst studying he wrote and drew his first comic, a French Foreign Legion comic-book serial Sword and Sabre which he sold to Syd Nicholl's Middy Malone Magazine. In 1949 Wedd married Dorothy Jewell.

Throughout the 1940s and 50s Wedd was a popular and prolific comic book illustrator and commercial artist. He created the Captain Justice comics as well as the popular comic book The Scorpion which is viewed as one of the best drawn comics of the era. Wedd also drew and painted covers for Australian pulp magazines.

In the mid-1960s Wedd began working in cartoon animation as a production designer for Artransa Park Studios working on projects such as Rocket Robin Hood (1966). He also worked as a layout artist for Eric Parker Studios and was involved in Australia's first animated film Marco Polo versus the Red Dragon (1972).

Wedd's interest in history and his skills as an illustrator combined in a series of historical comic strips in the 1970s and 80s. For the bicentenary of Britain's claim over Australia in 1970 Wedd created a comic-strip version of Captain Cook's journal for The Daily Mirror. He then produced a historically accurate comic-strip biography of Ned Kelly which lasted 146 weeks and was followed by a bushranger sequel, Bold Ben Hall in 1977. His last comic-strip project, The Birth of a Nation, was devised to coordinate with Australia's bicentennial in 1988.

Wedd's passion for history led him to start the Monarch Historical Museum in Dee Why in 1960 to house his extensive collection of historic Australian artefacts. The museum was relocated to Williamstown in 1988. Wedd also drew a series of military trading cards for the Golden Fleece fuel company, later turning the project into the highly regarded reference book, Australian Military Uniforms 1800-1892 (1982) which he both illustrated and wrote.

In recognition of his work as a historian, writer and artist Wedd was made an officer of the Order of Australia in 1993. He also received the Stanley Award for ‘Adventure/Illustrated Strip Artist’ in 1987 and 1989, and the Stanley Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004. He was posthumously inducted into the Australian Cartoonist's Association's Hall of Fame in 2014.

Wedd died in Fingal Bay, New South Wales on 4 May 2012 aged 91.