By Kerry Rodgers
If anyone held doubts that world paper money is running white hot, the results of Spink’s London sale of April 12-14 should lay these to rest. Spink’s Barnaby Faull points out that the £2.8 million sale total [$4,649,193 once premium is included] is a probable world record for a single sale devoted entirely to world paper.
As anticipated, pre-sale the Bruce Smart collection of Middle Eastern notes came up trumps and then some. The superb quality of many lots saw price records broken front, left and center. Eight lots hammered for $10,000 or more. Top spots were occupied by three issues from Qatar and Dubai.
The highest price of $77,832 [£55,200], or more than twice upper estimate, was paid for a Qatar & Dubai Currency Board first issue 50 riyals, P-5. The grade was an outstanding PMG 65EPQ. While this note is not as rare as the 25 riyals, it is seldom found in such high grade.
The corresponding 25 riyals, P-4, was of comparable excellence. Graded PMG 64EPQ, it had no problems in achieving $69,372 [£49,200] on its £25,000-30,000 estimate.
An uncommon Qatar Monetary Agency 500 riyals of 1973, P-6, came described as, “undoubtedly one of the finest extant.” Bidders responded accordingly and it soared past its upper estimate of £20,000 to sell for $60,912 [£43,200] in PMG 66EPQ.
The next four places in the prices realized stakes were occupied by issues of the National Bank of Egypt:
• 50 piastres, Jan. 1, 1899, P-1a (Palmer signature), VF: $57,528 [£40,800];
• £1, July 8, 1928, P-20, PMG 64: $18,612 [£13,200] on a £2,000-2,500 estimate;
• £50 specimen, Jan. 16, 1906, P-5s, PMG 64: $16,920 [£12,000];
• £100 specimen, Sept. 6, 1913, P-16s, PMG 63: $16,920 [£12,000].
A Government of Iraq 10 dinars, L.1931, P-11b, took out eighth place. It came ex-George Kanaan and, graded about UNC, quickly romped to $17,766 [£12,600] on its £6,500-7,500 estimate.
The Bruce Smart catalog was the second item on the agenda. The sale had opened with a 339-lot offering of British bank notes. These had no intention of being upstaged by any foreign issues.
Highest price here was $138,744 [£98,400] paid for a £1,000,000 Treasury note dated Aug. 30, 1948. It had come with a modest estimate of £40,000-60,000.
Several £1,000,000 Treasury notes have been sold in recent years for considerably lower amounts. This one, however, is historically important. It is one of only two believed still extant out of the original nine produced in connection with the Marshall Aid plan following World War II. Seven were destroyed. The two surviving examples were presented to the U.S. and U.K. treasury secretaries of the time.
Some distance behind, but still in the respectable money stakes, came three Bank of England rarities. A £500 signed by B.G. Catterns, issued at Liverpool and dated Aug. 30, 1932, P-333b, made $43,992 [£31,200] in PMG 30, while two consecutive £1,000s in about UNC signed by K.O. Peppiatt, drawn on London and dated Oct. 15, 1935, P-341, realized a comfortable $38,916 [£27,600] apiece.
With the British hors d’oeuvre and the Smart aperitif out of the way, Team Spink put their 1,790-lot world note main course on display. This occupied all of Wednesday and Thursday, April 13-14. It quickly devolved into more of the same.
By Thursday afternoon 57 lots had hammered in excess of $10,000; of those eight had taken more than $30,000. Leading the charge were:
• Bermuda, specimen two shillings and six pence specimen, Aug. 1, 1920, P-2s, good EF: $35,532 [£25,200];
• Gibraltar, WWI emergency £50, Aug. 6, 1914, P-5, about VF: $35,532 [£25,200];
• Leeward Islands five shillings specimen, Jan. 1, 1921, P-1s, about UNC: $71,064 [£50,400];
• Palestine £100 specimen, Sept. 1, 1927, P-11as, about UNC: $135,360 [£96,000];
• Palestine £100 uniface trial, ND (c.1938), NIP: $143,820 [£102,000];
• St Lucia five shillings specimen, Oct. 1, 1920, P-1s, good EF: $40,608 [£28,800];
• Spain 1,000 pesetas specimen, Jan. 1, 1875, P-10, about UNC: $35,532 [£25,200]
• Straits Settlements $1,000 specimen, March 17, 1911, NIP, Tan S5d, VF: $118,440 [£84,000].
Full details, including catalog and prices realized, are available at the Spink website www.spink.com. A 20 percent buyer’s premium has been added to the prices cited where 1GBP = 1.41USD.
This article was originally printed in Bank Note Reporter.
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• The Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1801-1900, 8th Edition is your guide to images, prices and information on the century's coins.
• 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.