The new Australian $50 bank note was released in October to some fanfare. The bill has impressive anti-counterfeiting features, certainly—a swan that appears to fly, and a “moving” holographic ’50’—but it’s also strikingly inclusive, with portraits of both Australia’s first published Aboriginal author, David Unaipon, and first female member of an Australian parliament, Edith Cowan. And, in vivid sunset shades, it’s not bad to look at, either.
But the devil’s in the details. The microprint that billows over the background of the note features excerpts of Cowan’s first parliamentary speech, which reads: “It is a great responsibility to be the only woman here, and I want to emphasise the necessity which exists for other women being here.” Unfortunately, in two places in the note, responsibility has been misspelled as “responsibilty” (“emphasise” is spelled according to Australian english).
This mistake was spotted by an eagle-eyed listener to Australia’s Triple M radio station, who tipped off the broadcaster. (It is all but invisible to the naked eye.) The station then posted an image on their Instagram page.
In a statement, the Royal Bank of Australia said they had actually been aware of the typo since December, and planned to correct it in the coming months. “These banknotes are legal tender and can continue to be used as normal. It does not affect their validity and functionality in any way,” a spokesperson said. “We have reviewed our processes to remove the likelihood of such an error occurring in the future.”
In the meantime, some 46 million $50 notes are swirling through Australian hands, wallets, and ATMs. It is the country’s most widely circulated banknote, and another 354 million versions with the typo have been printed but are not yet in circulation.