Paper Money

Zanzibar bank notes dominate in Dallas Heritage auction

It seems to be a normal occurrence that when a bank note from Zanzibar is in a sale of world paper money, it becomes the top-grossing lot.

Things were no different in Heritage Auctions’ Dallas auction on April 23 when a Zanzibar Government 20-rupee color trial specimen of Jan. 1, 1908, sold for $72,000, including the buyer’s fee. The uniface, hole-canceled rarity was graded Choice Uncirculated 64 by Paper Money Guaranty. It was printed in England by Waterlow & Sons.

All Zanzibar bank notes are scarce to rare. They were printed between 1908 and 1928 in denominations of from 1 to 500 rupees and have the same uniface design of vignettes in two panels. The vignette on the left shows the regional sailboat known as a dhow, while on the right is a rendition of farmers harvesting fruit from a tree. The seven denominations differ only in size and color.

A regular issue from the second series, a 5-rupee note of Aug. 1, 1916, in PMG Very Fine 25 was bought for $38,400. Heritage commented that this was only the sixth example to auctioned in the last 15 years.

Sandwiched between the Zanzibar issues, at a price of $57,600, from Lebanon, was one of four known Banque de Syrie et du Liban (Bank of Syria and Lebanon) 250-livre notes dated April 1,1939, in PMG Extremely Fine 40. The elaborately colored note depicts the open-air Baptistery of the Church of Saint John in Jbeil on the face, and the castle built by the Crusaders during the 13th century in the coastal city of Sidon on the back. This denomination was issued for use only in Lebanon, not Syria.

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