British West Africa was the collective name for British colonies in West Africa during the colonial period, either in the general geographical sense or the formal colonial administrative entity. The United Kingdom held varying parts of these territories or the whole throughout the 19th century. From west to east, the colonies became the independent countries of The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria.
There were only two major banks that operated in British West Africa: Barclays and the Bank of British West Africa. The British West African Pound was the currency of British West Africa. It was equal to the Pound Sterling and was similarly subdivided into 20 shillings, each of 12 pence. In 1916, the West African Currency Board introduced notes for 2, 10 and 20 shillings, followed by 1 shilling notes in 1918.
The depicted beside is 20 Shillings banknote of 1937. The obverse has Palm tree and texts that read ‘British West Africa’; ‘The West African Currency Board promise to pay on demand the sum of Twenty Shillings’; ‘Lagos’. The reverse has the text "Shilin Ashirin" - Twenty Shillings in Arabic script.
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