A rare specimen album of some of the earliest Israel bank notes is
among the highlights of Heritage Auctions’ world paper money sale at
the Jan. 7 to 10 Florida United Numismatists convention in Tampa.
The five specimen notes, all in Uncirculated condition, are in an
11.5-by-7.5-inch gray album with the cover printed in Hebrew. Two
lines in Hebrew translate to “The publishing division of Anglo
Palestine Bank” and “Examples of the bank notes.” A piece of scotch
tape appears in one corner of the album’s cover.
Each specimen note is mounted in a clear window within a black page
so that both sides can be seen. The five notes are in the
denominations of 500 mils, and 1, 5, 10, and 50 Palestine pounds.
A smaller mounted information page printed in German is also
included, saying that these American Bank Note Co. specimens are from
the Aug. 1, 1948, series that was in use until September 1951. It also
gives the printing amounts for each denomination, advises that they
were withdrawn from circulation in June 1953, and says that the bank
released less than 10 of these albums.
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Israeli currency specialist William M. Rosenblum commented that
while this is not the rarest specimen set, it is among the most
popular both because it is the first, and also that the 50-pound note
is virtually impossible to find as an issued note in high grade. He
also says that the fact that the name of the American Bank Note Co. is
not printed on the cover does not surprise him since neither its name
nor the ABNCo monogram are on the notes themselves. Neither is the
The magazine Jewish Heritage offers an intriguing explanation
in its section on Israel’s money. One of the first issues the founders
of the new state had to deal with was its money. The money could not
be printed in Palestine because it was still under the Mandate and no
foreign firm would contract with a state that did not yet exist.
Finally, S. Hoofien, Anglo-Palestine Bank’s chairman, convinced
American Bank Note to take the job. Since State Department approval
was required for printing bank notes of a foreign country, the notes
were printed without a legal tender designation. The legend “Legal
tender for payment of any amount” was overprinted later. Additionally,
the ABNCo specified that its name should not appear on the notes.
Hoofien’s name, however, does.
Also, since the name of the new state was not yet known, officials
were in a quandary as to what to use for the denomination. They
eventually settled on “Palestine pound” since that was what the
already known currency of the British Mandate was called.