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Bank of Van Diemen’s Land, 3rd August 1891

Founded in 1823, the Bank of Van Diemen's Land was the first commercial financial institution in Van Diemen's Land, later the Colony of Tasmania. Nicknamed the 'Old Bank' , the Bank of Van Diemen's Land traded for 68 years before becoming the first major bank failure of what would eventuate into the Australian banking crisis of 1893. The featured photgraph was taken on Photo taken on 3rd August 1891, the day of closure. Although it had a reputation for reliability, during the 1880s the bank lent heavily to Tasmanians who invested heavily in silver mining ventures. When the mineral prices crashed during the 1890s depression, the bank was unable to survive the number of defaulting loans. The bank closed in August 1891, and offered up its banking premises as a 1 pund lottery ticket. Following the bank's demise, a Royal Commission was established to investigate allegations of fraudulent activities.

Designed by architect Henry Hunter, the Bank of Van Diemen's Land headquarters stood 17 metres (55 ft) tall with a 22-metre (72 ft) frontage along Collins and a 25-metre (83 ft) frontage along Elizabeth Street in downtown Hobart. The building was constructed with white sandstone from Tea Tree quarries, Brighton and a darker brown stone from Hestercombe quarries, Bridgewater. The two stones were used to create alternating bands along the building's faade. It was demolished in 1958. The sandstone lions sculpted by artist W. Paterson which stood over the original doorway were relocated to the entranceway of St David's Park.

The Bank of Van Diemen's Land started issuing its official banknotes in 1825. Until the establishment of the Derwent Bank in 1828, it held a commercial monopoly in Tasmania. Source: Wikipedia.

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