Paper Money

Irish and Guernsey notes popular in Dix Noonan Webb auction

An Irish £10 bank note from the famous Ploughman series sold for £22,320, or about $31,100, including the 24% buyer’s fee, at Dix Noonan Webb’s auction of British, Irish and world bank notes in London on Feb. 24.

The Very Fine and extremely rare note issued by Northern Bank Ltd. was dated May 6, 1929. It was offered by a private collector and was bought by another private collector using the online bidding platform.

Ploughman notes got their name from the image of a farmer working a field with a horse-drawn plow. They were first issued in the spring of 1929 by the Currency Commission of Ireland as a way to replace the bank notes in circulation in the Irish Free State issued by six Irish Joint Stock banks that had the right to issue notes under British rule.

Other Irish notes in the sale included the only known example of a £50 note from the Belfast Banking Company Limited, dated Dec. 7, 1917, which sold for £12,400 ($17,270); an extremely rare £1 note from the Bank of Ireland (Dublin and Westport) from 1838, which sold for £11,780 ($16,400); and a £20 note printed in blue, from the Provincial Bank of Ireland Ltd. of Oct. 20 1904, which sold for £9,300 ($12,950).

The second highest price of the auction, £12,400, was also the price paid for an Extremely Fine Government of Iraq half-dinar note from 1948. The price was five times its high estimate of £2,200.

A 10-dinar note from the Central Bank of Iraq, dating from 1947, sold for £7,440 ($10,360) against an estimate of £1,500 to £2,000. Another 10-dinar note, from 1942, sold for double its estimate, at £4,960 ($6,900).

The standout among British bank notes was a superb Bank of England £50 specimen note — a design that remained unchanged for almost 150 years. The note, in Extremely Fine, with no date or serial numbers, which sold for £10,540 ($14,675), was hand-annotated by the then chief cashier, Matthew Marshall, stating “Specimen, M. Marshall, Bank of England, 30 December 1858,” presumably registering his approval.

Estimated to sell for £600 to £800 was a set of States of Guernsey, face and back black and white die proofs for 5 shillings / 6 francs, 1 SEPTEMBER 1914, with no signatures or serial numbers, and blue pencil numerals on each, (408 and 409). After what was described as a “genuinely remarkable fight between two committed collectors of Guernsey notes,” it sold for £6,820, or $9,500, and was repatriated to its place of issue, which happens to be home to the buyer.

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