Paper Money Guaranty® (PMG) has certified a stunning trio of rare East African Currency Board notes issued for British East Africa.
The notes will be featured in the Heritage World Currency Signature Auction, which will be held September 4-9, 2019, in Long Beach, California.
The three King George V-era notes are:
- a 1921 200 Shillings or 10 Pounds, Pick #17, graded PMG 63 Choice Uncirculated;
- a 1921 1,000 Shillings or 50 Pounds, Pick #18, graded PMG 53 About Uncirculated; and,
- a 1933 100 Shillings or 5 Pounds, Pick #23, graded PMG 30 Very Fine
The East African Currency Board (EACB) was founded in 1919 to supply currency to the British East African colonies of Kenya, Tanganyika, Uganda and Zanzibar. In 1921, the EACB introduced a new decimal system based on 100 cents to 1 East African Shilling.
"The East African Trio we are offering is special in many ways, but the combination of rarity and high grades shows that these notes were set aside by an astute and quite wealthy collector shortly after being issued. The buying power alone would have rendered these uncollectible by most collectors of the time. Without that collector’s penchant for numismatic rarity, an offering like this would never have been possible," said Dustin Johnston, Vice President of Currency at Heritage Auctions.
Interestingly, while the pound was the primary unit of exchange in Great Britain (with 20 shillings equal to one pound sterling), in British East Africa the shilling was considered the primary unit of exchange.
As a result, the East African Currency Board gave the shilling top billing on its paper money, followed by its equivalent value in pounds.
"The PMG grading team was thrilled to have the opportunity to grade these important East African notes," said Mark Salzberg, PMG Chairman. "Their design, history, rarity and grade will undoubtedly appeal to many collectors."
The East African Shilling remained the unit of exchange in British East Africa from 1921 until 1964, when the EACB declared that the nations that comprised British East Africa would become responsible for issuing their own national currencies after independence and foundation of their own central banks.
By the mid-1900s, a majority of the 1921 200 Shilling notes were exchanged for coins as they were more liquid. Furthermore, the East African Currency Board tried to have the old notes exchanged for newer issues, which reduced the number of high-denomination notes in private hands.
As a result, East Africa Pick #17 is exceptionally rare. The note recently graded PMG 63 Choice Uncirculated is only the second example to be certified by PMG.
East Africa Pick# 18 may be one of the greatest East African 1000 Shilling banknotes in existence. According to Owen Linzmayer’s The Banknote Book: East Africa, the East African Currency Board redeemed all but 222 notes by 1965 (not including notes destroyed by smaller banks during independence), making this note extremely rare.
Graded PMG 53 About Uncirculated, this is only the second example of East Africa Pick #18 to have been certified by PMG.
East Africa Pick #23 is a 100 Shilling note featuring bold brown, blue and purple coloring. Aside from the denomination and coloring, this note differs from Pick #17 and 18 in that "Nairobi" appears near the date on the front side, signaling that the note was issued in 1933. (Notes issued in 1921 have "Mombasa" near the date on the front side of the note.)
This note is graded PMG 30 Very Fine and is one of just four examples in the PMG Population Report.
The three PMG-certified EACB notes offered in the Heritage Long Beach auction mark the genesis of shilling-denominated notes in British East Africa. They resonate a classic beauty from the height of the British Empire, which at that time held control over one-quarter of the world’s population and land area.
For more information on these notes and the September Heritage Auctions Long Beach World Currency Signature Auction, visit the Heritage Auctions website, HA.com.