In 2022, CommBank raised $2.8 million to help flood-affected communities clean up, rebuild and recover. Almost 100 years ago, bank employees formed the Cot Fund that provided beds at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Sydney.
In December 1920, patients in the hospital’s Upper Todman Surgical Ward ranged in age from five months to 12 years. According to employee newsletter Bank Notes, they were “agog with excitement” for the ward’s Christmas party on December 23.
Father Christmas was played at the party by Cot Fund secretary and treasurer Miss McCourt, who “inspired so much awe, wonderment and delicious terror” when she went around to ask each child what they wanted for Christmas. (One five-year-old, wrapped in splints and bandages, asked for “some meat”.)
“To say our party made a big hit is putting it modestly,” reported Bank Notes. “Those kiddies fairly howled when Santa Claus and his (or should it be her?) assistants took a reluctant farewell.”
Sir Denison Miller was governor of the Commonwealth Bank from its foundation in 1911, until his sudden death from heart disease in 1923. He wrote this note to staff in the bank’s 10th year, praising accomplishments such as taking over the administration of banknote issue, and the merger with the Queensland Government Savings Bank.
An unusual illustration of Santa (left) fronts this menu for a Christmas dinner event, while the bank’s little-used blue logo makes an appearance on the back cover (right). Here’s what was served up to guests:
This life-sized Santa Claus stood atop the Rockhampton branch in the lead-up to Christmas, and proved so impressive that local paper the Morning Bulletin splashed its photo on the front page. That’s according to the December 1961 edition of Bank Notes, which featured this charming illustration on its cover:
That year's striking cover of Bank Notes was drawn by the renowned Greek-Australian illustrator Tony Rafty. It depicted Santa both using the bank's Data Processing Centre to churn through letters mailed to him, and looking to the sky at the oncoming conversion to decimal currency, which would happen a little over a year later on 14 February 1966.
Commonwealth Bank introduced Christmas Club accounts in the 1960s to help customers save up for the Christmas period – the sooner in the year you joined, the more you could save. These eight women promoted the club from the Brisbane branch in February 1969. (The woman pictured second from the left had proved a “popular” Miss Christmas two years earlier.)
This was the festive cover of Bank Notes’ Christmastime edition – note the elephant, which fronted the bank’s Get with the Strength marketing campaign that ran from the 1960s through to the 1980s.
Bank Notes reported that “customer Mr S Claus” conferred with a teller shortly before he was introduced to young children visiting the branch at Brunswick Street Station (now known as Fortitude Valley Station) in Queensland.
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