By Aris MaragoudakisCurrency Specialist, Stack’s Bowers ……
 

Finest known issued, uncancelled Zanzibar 1908 5 rupee banknote. Image courtesy Stack's Bowers

In the Stack’s Bowers official January New York International Numismatic Convention (NYINC) auction, we are pleased to offer an extremely rare, and well-preserved Zanzibar 5 rupees banknote.

This tiny geographic area is a semi-autonomous archipelago off the coast of Tanzania. Microlithic tools have proven that Zanzibar has been home to humans for over 20,000 years. Zanzibar was formally under the control of the Portuguese Empire during the Age of Exploration, then the Sultanate of Oman, later the British Empire, and then it was ruled as a constitutional monarchy under Sultan Jamshid bin Abdullah before the Zanzibar Revolution. Currently it governs itself through the Revolutionary Council and House of Representatives.

You don’t need to know the entire history of Zanzibar to recognize how rare and special banknotes from the region are. The country was a trading point between surrounding continents for many different imports and exports ranging from spices to slave trafficking. It didn’t print its own money until 1908. Denominations released were 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 Rupees. Of the notes printed from 1908 until 1928, only around 500 are known to have survived.

We are fortunate to offer a very rare, first issue, 5 Rupees banknote. Of all the known uncancelled, issued examples of this type, it is the finest known. The beautiful note displays a very detailed ornate design on the front. A dhow (a lateen-rigged ship with one or two masts frequently used in the Indian Ocean) with a sun on the horizon is seen at left. Farmers at a fruit harvest are seen at right. The note is uniface, and therefore has a blank reverse. A guilloche border outlines the design and contains 5 counters in each corner signifying the denomination. Some very minor toning, typical for the grade, is seen and mentioned merely for accuracy.

This note will be offered alongside other rarities in the live session of our official January NYINC World Paper Money auction to be held at the Waldorf Astoria. We are currently accepting consignments for our 2016-2017 auction season. If you are interested in consigning or if you have a currency related question, please call 1-800-458-4646 or email Currency Specialist Aris Maragoudakis at Aris@stacksbowers.com.
 

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