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WWII Burmese specimens top $107K

Among the specimens included in the WWII Burmese set is the 8 annas, 10 rupees and 100 rupees. (Image courtesy Tennants Auctioneers)

In May, the North Yorkshire auction house of Tennants announced the sale of a set of six WWII specimen banknotes from Burma for an in-house record-breaking total of $107,268 [£79,360].

The set consisted of the two provisional 1943 4 and 8 annas issued in the name of the MILITARY ADMINISTRATION OF BURMA (P-23s, -24s) plus 1, 5, 10 and 100 rupees RESERVE BANK OF INDIA overprints from 1945 (P-25s, -26s, -27s, -29s).

All the rupee notes had been overprinted MILITARY ADMINISTRATION OF BURMA and LEGAL TENDER IN BURMA ONLY. The 1, 10 and 100 rupees overprint is in red; that of the 5 rupees is blue. All were further overprinted SPECIMEN in red and had serials 000 000000. The 1, 10 and 100 rupees are signed by J. B. Taylor; the 5 rupees is unsigned. The 1943 anna notes are overprinted SPECIMEN in black and lacked serial numbers or signatures.

The set had been obtained in Burma during the war by a British engineer who kept them in pristine condition in an album. They were amongst his possessions inherited by a family member who had little idea of their value when they were consigned to Tennants.

It was expected that the set would rouse considerable collector interest given both its rarity and mint condition. This certainly proved to be the case when it appeared on the block. Pre-sale bids were received from around the world. These were quickly matched by those within the room. In the end, the lot went to an in-room bidder who had flown in from the United States for this specific sale. Now that is collector dedication.


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More Collecting Resources

• Order the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, General Issues to learn about circulating paper money from 14th century China to the mid 20th century.

• The Standard Catalog of United States Paper Money is the only annual guide that provides complete coverage of U.S. currency with today’s market prices.

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