Paper currency and coins from Zanzibar are as considered as desirable and exotic as a trip to the archipelago of islands off the eastern coast of the Africa.
To elite collectors of international paper money, banknotes from Zanzibar are among the most desirable of all world issues, which explains the groundswell of demand for an Official Leather-Bound Presentation Album of Zanzibar Government Notes (estimate: $400,000+) that will be offered Nov. 15 at Heritage Auctions
in The Ibrahim Salem Collection of Islamic Countries Part I Signature® Auction.
Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous region of its nearest neighbor, Tanzania, but at times over the last five centuries, it has been occupied or colonized by Portugal, Oman and Great Britain.
"There was a need for currency when Great Britain established its protectorate in Zanzibar," says Heritage Auctions Vice President of Numismatics Dustin Johnston. "The government of Zanzibar authorized Waterlow & Sons to print a series of banknotes, the first of which was dated 1908 and included four denominations: 5, 10, 20 and 100 Rupees each dated 1908 and featuring the signatures of Charles Edmond Akers and James Corbett Davis.
"A proof of each one is included in this booklet, which is exceedingly rare, and probably unique, as our experts are unaware of any other complete denomination set from 1908, making this an exceptional opportunity for the winning bidder."
Issued notes, Specimens and Proofs remain elusive today, and official presentation pieces are nearly impossible to find, as only a select few are known extant. All notes from Zanzibar are uniface, so none has a design on the back side.
All lots in this auction are from Ibrahim Salem, who is widely regarded as one of the most dedicated of all banknote collectors. He aggressively sought notes from all countries and regions around the globe; this auction is the second at Heritage Auctions to feature a trove of his exceptional banknotes. His Collection of United States Banknotes was an important part of Heritage Auctions' Central States US Currency Signature® Auction May 4-7.
"Ibrahim Salem is one of the most prominent and respected banknote collectors in the world," Johnston says. "The notes offered in this auction are another phenomenal installment from his distinguished collection."
A design architect whose collecting interests also include antiques, paintings, watches and books, Salem said his assemblage of banknotes is his favorite.
"My banknotes collections are considered my babies and my kids," Salem says. "The only deference than buildings is that the collections never see the sun. Every single banknote, whether it is issued, specimen, essay, color trial, artist impression, etc., reminds me of an incident (and) why I added it to my collection."
An Iran Kingdom of Persia, Imperial Bank 1000 Tomans ND (1890-1923) Pick 10s Specimen PMG Gem Uncirculated 65 EPQ (estimate: $30,000+), which is being offered for the first time at Heritage Auctions, is the highest denomination of the series and an absolute key note for Persia / Iran. This imposing Specimen features a serial number range of only 100 pieces, which indicates that just one bundle of notes was printed for this date (which is left blank on this Specimen but would have been applied to the issued banknote). The offered note is one of only two Specimen examples that has been graded by PMG; both are graded Gem Uncirculated 65 EPQ.
A Zanzibar Government 10 Rupees 1.2.1928 Pick 3 PMG Very Fine 25 (estimate: $30,000+), rare in any grade, features a 1928 date and the signatures of Richard Hayes Crofton and Norman Blakiston Cox.
A Zanzibar Government 10 Rupees 1.2.1928 Pick 3 PMG Very Fine 25 Net (estimate: $30,000+) is from a coveted series that is enjoying soaring demand. Colonial influence on the small island started in the 15th century. The Zanzibar Rupee replaced the Zanzibar Ryal, and was first issued in 1908.
Offered for the first time by Heritage Auctions, and the key note of this early Tomans series, an elusive Iran Kingdom of Persia, Imperial Bank 500 Tomans ND (1890-1923) Pick 9s Specimen PMG Gem Uncirculated 66 EPQ (estimate: $20,000+) is one of just two examples of this type as a Specimen currently graded by PMG
and this is by far the finer of the two. The serial number range indicates that only 100 notes were to be issued for a specific date of this note.
Other highlights include, but are not limited to:
A Brunei Negara Brunei Darussalam 10,000 Ringgit 2006 Pick 33a KNB33a PCGS Superb Gem New 68PPQ (estimate: $12,000+)
An Iran Kingdom of Persia, Imperial Bank 100 Tomans ND (1890-1923) Pick 8s Specimen PMG Choice Uncirculated 64 (estimate: $12,000+)
An Iran Kingdom of Persia, Imperial Bank 500 Tomans 1.7.1901 Pick 9s Specimen PMG Choice About Unc 58 (estimate: $12,000+)
An India Reserve Bank 100 Rupees ND (1959-70) Pick R4 Arabian Gulf Note PMG About Uncirculated 55 EPQ (estimate: $10,000+)
An Iran Kingdom of Persia, Imperial Bank 20 Tomans ND (1890-1923) Pick 5s Specimen PMG Gem Uncirculated 66 EPQ (estimate: $10,000+)
An Iran Kingdom of Persia, Imperial Bank 50 Tomans ND (1890-1923) Pick 7s Specimen PMG Superb Gem Unc 67 EPQ (estimate: $10,000+)
An Iran Bank Melli 100 Rials ND (1935) Pick 28At2 Color Trial Specimen PMG Gem Uncirculated 66 EPQ (estimate: $10,000+)