Persian notes in Spink auction ‘among the most handsome issues’ in history

Notes in what is billed as the ‘Shamshir and Lion Collection’ produced by The Imperial Bank of Persia
By , Special to Coin World
Published : 09/25/17
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The 86 lots of Persian bank notes in Spink’s Sept. 27 sale in London are, the firm says, “among the most handsome issues in the history of world currency.” 

The notes in what is billed as the “Shamshir and Lion Collection” were produced by The Imperial Bank of Persia and printed by Bradbury Wilkinson and Waterlow & Sons. The notes are known for their vivid colors, often in shades of pink and green, their dignified portraits of the shahs, and their detailed engraving and calligraphy. The series is highly collectible, in part due to the many cities in which the notes were issued, most of which (17) are represented in the sale.

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Spink has sold individual examples of these notes over the past few decades but never a collection with the breadth and scale of this collection. The higher denominations, in particular, with their large size and high market value, rarely appear at auction. The firm calls the sale, for the serious student of Persian paper money, a unique opportunity to delve into the background of the notes and design processes of the era. 

In addition to issued notes, the auction offers archival photographs of designs, die proofs, specimens, and German military issues for Persia.

One impressive high-denomination lot, estimated at £10,000 to £15,000 ($13,500 to $20,350), is an Imperial Bank of Persia 50-toman note payable at Teheran, and dated 1 JUNE 1918. It is black, pink and green, with Shah Nasr-ed-Din at right and the Persian coat of arms at left. It is in a PCGS Currency Very Fine 20 holder. Only one other auction-recorded example has been found to date.

The highest estimated note, at £15,000 to £20,000 ($20,350 to $27,150), is an Imperial Bank of Persia 100-toman issue, payable at Yezd, and dated 18 JUNE 1918. It has the same design and colors as the 50-toman note, and is also in a PCGS Currency VF-20 holder. It is extremely rare as an issued note, as only about 100 examples were listed as unredeemed in records from the first half of the 20th century. 

More information about the sale is under the Auctions tab here.

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