The only surviving example of the world’s first hybrid banknote

This is the only known surviving example of the Canadian $5 note, issued in 1995 on Luminus® paper-polymer-paper substrate. It is the world's first circulating hybrid (composite) bank note and predates all other hybrid bank notes by a decade.

 

For the substrate on which the notes of the new series would be printed, the Bank [of Canada in the mid-1990s] investigated several options on the market or under development before focusing on an experimental new material being developed by a major Canadian paper manufacturer. Trademarked as Luminus®, this new substrate was a sandwich of durable polymer laminated between two sheets of paper. The longer life expectancy of notes printed on Luminus® would reduce the cost of replacing worn notes. The internal polymer layer was also thought to offer increased security because it could carry a coloured image similar to a watermark. Between 1995 and 1998, Luminus® was tested in active circulation with 100,000 Birds of Canada $5 notes. No major problems were identified, and in June 1998, the Bank was preparing to use Luminus® as the substrate for the first two denominations of the Canadian Journey series—the $10 and $5 notes. In September 1999, this decision was extended to the higher denominations as well. However, technical issues with the production of Luminus®, as well as questions about its market potential, led the owner of the technology to withdraw its offer to supply the product in December 1999." (Source: Bank of Canada Review, Autumn 2007, pg. 50.)

 

During the test phase in the 1990s, the Bank of Canada made no announcement that such test notes were in circulation. The first announcement was made in 2007, long after these notes were removed from circulation. This is the reason for their rarity. Out of 100,000 such notes printed and circulated between 1995 and 1998, only one note is known to exist today. This note had been saved by a woman in eastern Canada. On payday she would visit her local bank to cash her pay check and she would set aside any nice, new bills for a rainy day. Many years later, the notes were given to her son, whose research led to the discovery that his mother had saved one of the Bank of Canada's circulating hybrid test notes.

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