Paper Money

India, Philippines notes top bidding in Stack’s Bowers auction

Paper money from two countries, India and the Philippines, dominated the top spots at the Stack’s Bowers Galleries auction of world paper money on Aug. 14 in Rosemont, Illinois. 

Only one outlier, a Deutsch-Ostafrikanische (German East Africa) Bank 500-rupie note of 1912 graded Choice Uncirculated 63 by Paper Money Guaranty, and the best one known, sold for $21,600.

All but one of the other nine notes went for $18,000 or more, including the 20 percent buyer’s fee. The highest was the $60,000 paid for a Reserve Bank of India undated Haj Pilgrim issue from 1959 in PMG Extremely Fine 40, one of only two certified at this high a grade. Haj Pilgrim bank notes were specially issued for use by Muslims going on the required religious pilgrimage to Mecca. 

The note was part of a complete Haj Pilgrim issue set that was split into three lots. Another one was a four-piece lot of 1-, 5, 10-, and 100-rupee notes, undated but issued from 1957 to 1970. The grading ranged from about Uncirculated to Superb Gem Uncirculated 67 Exceptional Paper Quality.

Also from India, at $24,000, was an undated British India note with a 2 rupees, 8 annas denomination issued in Calcutta in 1917. Its Choice Uncirculated 64 grade by PMG puts it in a tie for the best known.

The balance of the high sellers were from the Philippine offering. They included the two big surprises of the auction that were each estimated to sell for $1,500 to $2,000. 

One was a very rare 5-peso note of Jan. 1, 1904, printed in England by Barclay & Fry Ltd. that is unlisted in the Pick catalog, and was called Very Fine 20 by PMG. It sold for $26,400. The other was a Philippines 10-peso 1912 silver certificate printed in Washington by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The red seal note with the familiar bust of George Washington in an oval frame realized $21,600 in Very Fine 20. 

A 500-peso silver certificate of 1906 printed by the BEP sold for $40,800 in PMG Very Fine 30 with some rust marks. It is only the second example ever graded by PMG and was estimated at $25,000 to $35,000. 

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