For collectors of WWII paper, one note in Spink’s Oct. 3 catalog of the Ibrahim Salem Collection stood out: a specimen Banque de Madagascar 5,000 francs dated 30 April 1942 and drawn on Tananarive [Antananarivo] (P-44; S&B-612s).
This note is extremely rare in any condition. The Standard Catalog of World Paper Money lists issued examples as “Rare” but, if the 1942 5,000F was ever issued, none are extant. Schwan & Boling fail to list the issued note. The sole examples offered for sale are specimens, and there are very few of those.
When France surrendered to Germany in 1940, Madagascar threw its support behind the Vichy French State. The Allies regarded the island as a potential Indian Ocean base for operations against Allied shipping, especially following Japan’s entry into the war.
An Allied blockade made it nigh impossible for the island to receive supplies of bank notes from France. When reserves became exhausted in 1941, Banque de Madagascar had an emergency supply of 1,000-franc notes with a simple design printed locally on poor quality paper. They were dated 15 December 1941.
A similar emergency 5,000 franc was designed in 1942. The intent was for it also to be produced on-island, but a British Royal Navy amphibious assault on May 5, 1942, followed by capture of much of the island, put an end to that notion.
The specimen on offer was printed in black and dark green on light brown paper and shows silhouettes of two Zebu or Brahman cattle (Bos indicus) on the face along with geometric designs. The serial number is 000000. The back depicts a Malagasy woman with a basket of fruit in an agricultural setting with a Baobab tree at left and Traveler’s Palm at right. “Specimen” appears in red on both face and back.
Graded PCGS 35 Very Fine although with staple and pinholes, it romped away to take $25,180 [£19,200] on what proved to be a conservative £9,000-12,000 estimate.
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 price cited, which have been converted at a rate of 1GBP = 1.31 USD.
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