World Currency Auctions – Official Leather-Bound Presentation Album of Zanzibar Government Notes


Zanzibar Government 5; 10; 20; 100 Rupees 1.1.1908 Pick 2p; 3p; 4p; 6p Four Proofs in Presentation Album Crisp Uncirculated.



Zanzibar is well know in the field of numismatics for being an exotic locale, steeped in history and a crossroads of cultures. Coinage and paper currency from the archipelago are widely sought after and most emissions are rarely seen today. In the world of paper money, Zanzibar notes are among the rarest and most desirable of all world issues. This is our honour to present this wonderful set of notes to all our audience worldwide and brought 336,000 USD during the 2022 November 15 The Ibrahim Salem Collection of Islamic Countries Part I Signature® Auction.


Presently, Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania. In the past 500 years, it has been occupied or colonized by Portugal, Oman, and Great Britain. Due to its advantageous locale, it was a trading hub and a global hotspot, featuring a variety of cultures and religions. In 1890, the Sultanate of Zanzibar became a British Protectorate. This lasted until 1963, and after a year of revolution and volatility, it became part of Tanzania.


Rare and Well-preserved Album

After Great Britain established their protectorate in Zanzibar, there was a need for local currency. Germany was colonizing the nearby mainland, and Britain’s colonies in East Africa were just to the north. The Zanzibar Government authorized printer Waterlow & Sons to print a series of banknotes, and the first series was dated 1908 and featured four denominations. This lot includes a leather-bound presentation booklet of Proofs for the first series of notes. The denominations 5, 10, 20, and 100 Rupees are seen here, all dated 1908 and featuring the signatures of Charles Edmond Akers and James Corbett Davis. There are hole punched cancellations in lieu of serial numbers. Each Proof is mounted on an individual page of the presentation booklet. Minor ageing is present in localized areas, and the leather-bound cover is mostly good with some edge wear. It is worth mentioning that all Zanzibar notes were uniface, so there are no back designs.



Survivors in the Long History

Zanzibar banknotes are incredibly popular, beautifully designed, and incredibly rare today. From 1908 until 1928, Thomas de la Rue and Waterlow & Sons printed denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 500 Rupees in various dates. The 1, 50, and 500 Rupees were issued after 1908, hence why they are not included in this first series presentation book. Issued notes, Specimens, and Proofs remain elusive today, and official presentation pieces are nearly impossible to find, as only a select few are known extant.


Zanzibar Government notes circulated in the archipelago from their first issuance in 1908 until 1936, at which time they were redeemed, withdrawn, and replaced by East African Currency Board notes. Nearby Tanzania was transferred from German to British control after World War I, so there was less a need for specific Rupee currency in Zanzibar. The vast majority of Rupee notes, and associated Specimens and Proofs, were redeemed or lost over the years, hence why so few are seen today.


The discovery of this album in 2010 was major numismatic news, and Mr. Salem was the triumphant bidder when it was offered months later. Since then, it has been a prized part of his collection. We are unaware of any other collections with a complete denomination set from 1908. The existence of all the pieces in one place makes it a “must-have” for enthusiasts of notes from Zanzibar, and among the world’s best “trophy” items for banknotes. (Total: 4 notes)



From the The Ibrahim Salem Collection of Islamic Countries Part I


As always, Heritage Auctions is fully confident that the audience of interested bidders will appreciate the breadth, scale, and quality of the offerings herein. Holding in tandem with the Hong Kong International Numismatic Fair, we present on of the top occasions for collector, investors, and enthusiasts alike to see some of the best pieces the market has to offer. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you want to share a story, discuss a lot, or better target that key issue that will complete your collection. To know more information, please email to, or simply call +852 2155 1698.