An extremely rare banknote from Bermuda bearing the coveted serial number 1 is among the extraordinary highlights from one of the world’s premier collections in The Ibrahim Salem Banknote Collection of World Peninsulas and Islands, which will be up for grabs May 9 at Heritage Auctions.
The magnificent Serial Number 1 Bermuda Bermuda Government 5 Pounds 1.8.1941 Pick 12 PMG Choice About Unc 58 is just one of the treasures in the collection from Salem, who is among the most celebrated collectors of banknotes. Among the notes he sought over the years are those with rare serial numbers, including those featuring the serial number 1.
The Ibrahim Salem Collection of Islamic Countries Part I Signature Auction realized $1.34 million USD in November 2022.
“Ibrahim Salem is an extremely important collector who has spent years assembling one of the finest collections anywhere of banknotes from around the world,” Heritage Auctions Vice President of Currency Dustin Johnston said. “Any collectible that was the first of its kind often is in high demand among the most serious collectors, and this note is a perfect example of that.”
Bermuda’s brown Five Pound note is the undisputed rarity in the King George VI portrait series; only 45,000 notes were issued before the color theme was changed to orange. Apparently, the brown tones of this denomination were too similar to that of the 5 Shillings note. The public complained, and a new shipment of notes featuring orange designs was delivered in 1943. The example offered in this auction is one of only three notes in the PMG Population Report and easily the most important.
The finest-graded of just three examples in the PMG Population Report of a Serial Number 1 Falkland Islands Government of the Falkland Islands 1 Pound 16.10.1899 Pick A3 PMG Very Fine 30 is the first serial number from a note printed during the first year in which the Falkland Islands government issued notes. It has been reported that as few as 3,100 notes featuring this date were printed, hand-signed, and issued – the first of which is the example offered in this auction, annotated on the back “from J.J.Felton to Mansell Esq. Manager of National Bank of Argentina Port Gallegos.” This note, and the 5 Shillings also offered in this sale, are pedigreed to John James “JJ” Felton, a prominent Islander in the 19th and early 20th centuries. This note is so rare that an issued example of this type has not been offered in a major public auction in two years.
A Gibraltar Government of Gibraltar 50 Pounds = 50 Libras 6.8.1914 Pick 5 PMG Very Fine 25 Net is an incredibly rare example of the highest denomination from the nation’s first series of 1914 notes that were printed and issued during World War I so the Colonial Treasury did not have to exhaust its silver and gold reserves. This 50 Pounds note represented an enormous amount of money at the time, and it seems certain that all or almost all issued examples have been redeemed. This example was fully issued and cancelled, and the watermark “E. Baynes & Company” remains visible.
An unissued Remainder Spain Banco de Espana 1000 Pesetas 1.1.1875 Pick 10r Remainder PMG Choice Uncirculated 63 is the only example graded in the PMG Population Report. This note was the highest denomination of the series at the time. Printer records indicate that 75,000 notes were issued; the 75001 serial number on this example makes it a Remainder.
An extremely rare “unissued” Malta Government of Malta 5 Shillings 20.11.1918 Pick 10s Specimen PMG About Uncirculated 55 is being offered for the first time at Heritage Auctions, and for the first time anywhere in many years. It is from one of two small denominations (along with a 2 Shillings) printed in 1918 that were printed by Thomas de la Rue for Malta. Neither note was issued at the time; the 2 Shilling note was repurposed and issued in 1940, but the 5 Shilling never was issued.
A Saint Lucia Government of St. Lucia 5 Shillings 1.10.1920 Pick 1s Specimen PMG About Uncirculated 50 is one of just four banknotes issued expressly for the island nation that represents a serious challenge for collectors of world banknotes, and one of the two notes issued by the government of St. Lucia. This is the first time this rarity is being offered at Heritage Auctions.
A Singapore Board of Commissioners of Currency 10,000 Dollars ND (1980) Pick 17a TAN#B-9a PMG About Uncirculated 50 EPQ is one of the most iconic notes produced in the 20th century. The back of this note shows Singapore’s evolution from a small trading post to a vibrant global city.
Other top lots in the auction include, but are not limited to:
- Cyprus Government of Cyprus 10 Shillings 30.10.1914 Pick 4s Specimen PMG Choice Uncirculated 63
- Serial Number 1 Bermuda Bermuda Government 10 Pounds 28.7.1964 Pick 22 PMG Choice Uncirculated 64
- Jamaica Bank of Jamaica 5 Pounds 1960 Pick 52d PMG Gem Uncirculated 66 EPQ
- Grenada Government of Grenada 2 Shillings 6 Pence 1.7.1920 Pick 1s Specimen PMG About Uncirculated 50
Images and information about all lots in the auction can be found at HA.com/4043.