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PMG Certifies Three Rare East African Currency Board Notes

20 Aug 2019  Tue

Three rare East African Currency Board notes issued for British East Africa during the reign of King George V were recently certified by PMG. They will be offered at the Heritage World Currency Signature Auction from 4th to 9th September in Long Beach. The 200 Shillings or 10 Pounds note is graded PMG 63 Choice Uncirculated; the 1,000 Shillings or 50 Pounds note is graded PMG 53 About Uncirculated. Both of them were issued in the year 1921. The third note is a 100 Shillings or 5 Pounds note issued in 1933 and is graded PMG 30 Very Fine. These three notes are considered as the earliest shilling-denominated notes in British East Africa. They were issued at a time when the British Empire controlled almost 1/4th of the world’s land area.

The EACB was established in 1919 to provide banknotes to the British East African colonies of Kenya, Tanganyika, Uganda and Zanzibar. A new decimal system was introduced in 1921 when100 cents was equated to 1 East African Shilling. The pound was the main denomination in Great Britain when 20 shillings was equal to one pound sterling. However, Shilling was the main denomination in British East Africa during this time. Shilling was given top billing on banknotes followed by the value in pounds. Most of the 1921 200 Shilling notes were exchanged for coins due to liquidity in the mid-1900s. An effort was made to exchange old notes for new ones. Thus only a few high-denomination notes are held privately.

The offered notes are not only rare but are also in great condition. The 200 Shillings note is only the second example of its type to be graded. The second offering is the finest and rarest East African 1000 Shilling banknote. According to experts, all of them were redeemed, except for 222 notes by 1965. Some of them were also destroyed by smaller banks during independence. Only two such notes have been certified so far. The 100 Shilling note has bold brown, blue and purple colours. Unlike the earlier two notes, this one depicts the text "Nairobi" near the date on the obverse, which means that it was issued in 1933. Notes issued in 1921 feature the text "Mombasa" in the same position. Only four such notes are known to collectors today.

The East African Shilling was circulated from 1921 to 1964. Countries from British East Africa were asked to issue their own currencies after independence.

Image Courtesy: Heritage Auctions

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