The opening volley of London’s post-Maastricht paper money auctions was fired by Spink on Oct. 3 with sale of the superb Alan Pickering collection of East Africa.
As Spink’s Barnaby Faul commented, “The collection is remarkable given the scarcity of these notes on the market.” It must be one of the very few in the world to contain an issued 10,000 shillings (£500) - of any British monarch.
The sale itself proved remarkable. Unlike many auctions, where an initial offering of a few modest items allows clients to relax in their seats, the first three lots all scored record prices. Any would-be but tardy bidder missed out.
Star of the show was that East African Currency Board 10,000 shillings of George VI dated 1 August 1951 and drawn on Mombasa (P-32a). The cataloger knew of only one other example in private hands. In PCGS 63 Choice New, albeit with minor spots and three pin holes, it hurried away to take $82,242 [£63,600] on a £25,000-35,000 estimate.
Only a short distance behind with a price of $79,140 [£61,200] came Faul’s favorite note: an East African 50 florins of 1 May 1920 (P-12a). Only one or possibly two examples are believed extant today, and that on offer bore a fabulous serial number: A/1 00005. Its scarcity, serial number, and an extraordinary PMG 58 Choice About New grade explain why the estimate of £30,000-35,000 proved highly conservative.
Both these sales are believed record prices for any East African note.
Lot #1 consisted of a third great rarity, a 20 rupees of 1 December 1918 (P-3a). Its most outstanding feature was its exceptional grade: PMG 63 Choice Uncirculated. It easily exceeded double lower estimate with a price of $37,231 [£28,800].
Other high rollers included a 10 florins of 1 May 1920 (P-10) that made £22,800, or over three times upper estimate, graded PCGS 15 Fine with tears, clip mark, and small holes; and a printers archival specimen 1,000 shillings (£50) of 2 January 1939 (P-31Bs) that came graded PCGS 58PPQ Choice About New. It realized $13,959 [£10,800] on a £5,000-7,000 estimate.
All told, the collection consisted of 1,182 lots, of which 1,161 sold on the day for a total of $491,112 [£374,400]. Unsold lots were quickly snapped up in post-sale deals.
Full details of the sale, including catalog and prices realized, are available at the Spink website: www.spink.com. A 20% buyer’s premium has been added to the prices cited, which have been converted at a rate of 1GBP = 1.29 USD.
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