Heritage Auctions Jan. 5-9 FUN World Currency Signature Auction opened 2017 on a red hot note. No more so was this evident than when a type set of four World War II Gilbert and Ellice Islands chits appeared on the block. Three of the four are plate notes in The Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, General Issues, 1368-1960.
These consisted of the one, two, 10 shillings and one pound, P-1, -2, -4, -5 produced on an office duplicator on Ocean Island in the face of an impending Japanese invasion. All came dated Jan. 1, 1942. They were graded PMG VF 25 (two shillings and 10 shillings) and PMG VF 30 (one shilling and one pound).
The set went to the block with a $25,000-35,000 estimate and a $20,000 reserve. It immediately took off, sparking a protracted online bidding war. Eventually it found a new home for $56,400.
Canada was prominent among top-selling lots. Highest price of $21,150 was achieved by a superb Bank of Canada 1935 $50 graced by George VI. It had been graded PCGS Very Choice New 64 PPQ.
A little further back was a second BoC 1935 issue but this time the $1,000 with English text. It had a PMG Choice Uncirculated 64 EPQ grade and well deserved its $16,450.
Also making $21,150 was a rare Russia State Treasury 50 roubles of 1895, P-A84. This appears to be an issued note although SCWPM lists it as “Specimen only” and does not price it in any grade.
A French India 50 rupees specimen of Banque de l’Indo-Chine dated 10 Septembre 1898, P-A3s, attracted considerable interest. French India is one of the least known French territories, its cities shuffled back and forth between various colonial powers before being permanently acquired by France between 1914 and 1917. In PMG Choice Uncirculated 64, the note realized $16,450.
Two rare British Guiana issues also fetched five-figure sums. A $5 of Oct. 1, 1938, P-14a, made $15,275 in a remarkable PCGS Gem New 66 PPQ grade. The same amount was paid for a $20 of Jan. 1, 1942, P-16, in PMG Choice Fine 15 Net but with both paper damage and rust.
For this reporter, and I gather some of Heritage staffers, the most intriguing item in the sale was a 500 roubles draft issued by a British Military Mission in Russian Ashkabad, Turkestan. It was dated Dec. 14, 1918.
The story behind the issue as given in the Heritage catalog is that in 1918 an autonomous force of British troops was sent to Trans-Caspia, east of the Caspian Sea, the area now called Turkmenistan. The group was commanded by Gen.Wilfred Malleson. His primary mission was to protect British interests in Persia and British India and prevent any German advances.
The political turmoil in the region was complicated by the Bolshevik revolution. A White Russian volunteer army had been formed to counter the Bolsheviks’ Red Army. The latter viewed the British presence as an act of hostility and accused them of conspiring to help the White Army along with United States forces also present in south and eastern Russia. Eventually Malleson’s forces had no choice but to actively engage the Bolsheviks.
In late 1918 Malleson need to raise funds for his forces. He printed drafts on behalf of the British Government such as that offered for sale. These would pay 500 roubles three months after the date to bearer.
Heritage was aware of just one other of these 500 rouble military drafts. It realized over $7,000 at auction last year. Graded F-VF the present example had little difficulty racing away to $10,575.
Full details of lots sold and prices realized are available online at www.ha.com.
This article was originally printed in Bank Note Reporter. >> Subscribe today.
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