Brief historical reminder
The Republic of Haiti is a country located on the island of the Greater Antilles shared with the neighboring country of the Dominican Republic. We often forget that since 1804, Haiti is the first independent black Republic in the world and the only independent French-speaking territory in the Caribbean! Despite its nickname "Pearl of the Antilles", it is currently one of the poorest countries on the planet (1) and which has been trying to rebuild itself since the terrible earthquake of January 2010.
During the 19th century, the young Republic of Haiti was battered by numerous coups d'état and short-lived presidents, who paid little attention to the development of their country. Michel Domingue (1813-1877) is a perfect example. Elected in 1874, this incompetent professional soldier only remained in power from June 14, 1874 to April 15, 1876! During this short period, the National Bank of Haiti still managed to issue what will remain the one and only issue denominated in piastres with three denominations of 25 centimes, 1 piastres and 5 piastres (2). The three banknotes feature an identical portrait of Domingue and are printed by the American Bank Note Company (ABNC) of New York. This issue has certainly never been put into circulation because the notes found are not signed and we can even find some for sale in untrimmed sheets! Let us now take a look at the case of 1 piastre Type 1875 ...
An unknown rarity?
Haiti. National Bank of Haiti. Issue of September 1875. Date: SEPTRE 1875. Dimensions: 155 x 77 mm. Watermark: No. Material: Paper. No security thread. Printer: American Bank Note Company, New York, USA. Multicolored front and back printing, predominantly orange and blue. Description of the front: Frame made up of the repetition of the word “ONE” and with the value “1” in the corners. The background has guilloche patterns in blue and orange. The texts are in French. On the left, a portrait of Michel Domingue in an oval medallion. On the right, an allegory of Agriculture illustrated by a young woman seated on a plow and holding a sheaf and a bunch of wheat. In the center, the coat of arms of Haiti and the banknote number in red on each side. The value "1" is indicated twice in a rosette at the upper corners. A combination of handwritten signatures with The Chief Cashier, The President and the Government Agent, but the note is unsigned. Description of the back: Monochrome printing in blue. The frame is composed of repeating rosettes. Background with guilloche patterns. Text of the Penal Code in French in two ovals in the center. By way of illustration, the copy of Numizon classified in G grade below:
Our study was carried out in two stages: a first digital search over a period between 2000 and 2020. For the years prior to 2000, the scarcity of available digital resources forced us to carry out a second physical search in the sales catalogs paper still at our disposal (4). Of course, the result of this inventory is not exhaustive and can still be improved. In the end, we obtain a total of 46 copies found which we present to you in detail in the table below:
|Pick.70||11437||PMG 35 Choice VF||$ 79||Heritage Auctions, 2018 (lot #81728)|
|Pick.70||19310||-||-||seen on banknote.ws|
|Pick.70||24056||G||€ 45||cgb.fr (lot #b57_0307)|
|Pick.70||27063||VG+||$ 72||Spink Auction #38 in 2018 (lot #324) w/ 4 notes sold $ 290|
|Pick.70||41470||PMG 30 VF||$ 51||Heritage Auctions, 2018 (lot #84823), actually for sale $ 215 on ebay in September 2020|
|Pick.70||43942||F/VF||$ 72||Spink Auction #38 in 2018 (lot #324) w/ 4 notes sold $ 290|
|Pick.70||45546||F||$ 57||sold on ebay in July 2020 (ebay item: 154013182707)|
|Pick.70||52054||XF||CHF 253||Sincona AG, Auction #27, 2015 (lot #5162)|
|Pick.70||52642||VF+||-||seen on numismaclub.com|
|Pick.70||52904||VG||$ 75||Stack's Bowers, 2017 (lot #31155)|
|Pick.70||53005||G||-||seen on facebook|
|Pick.70||55461||VF||€ 30||sold on ebay in 2017|
|Pick.70||60469||VF||$ 59||Heritage Auctions, 2017 (lot #32111)|
|Pick.70||60842||VF||$ 160||Daniel Frank Sedwick, Auction #27, 2020 (lot #1873), lot w/ 5 piastres, 1 gourde 1914 and 25 centimes 1875|
|Pick.70||61262||-||-||seen on lunionsuite.com|
|Pick.70||63745||VF||$ 240||Spink, 2018 (lot #325), uncut sheet w/ 3 notes|
|Pick.70||63746||VF||-||Spink, 2018 (lot #325), uncut sheet w/ 3 notes|
|Pick.70||63747||VF||-||Spink, 2018 (lot #325), uncut sheet w/ 3 notes|
|Pick.70||64130||-||-||seen on numismondo.net|
|Pick.70||69680||VF||£ 320||St. James Auctions Ltd, auction 38, 2016 (lot #505) lot w/ 5 piastres and 25 centimes|
|Pick.70||71961||VF||$ 88||3 signatures ! Sold on ebay in July 2020.|
|Pick.70||87752||VF||€ 100||Auktionshaus Christoph Gärtner, Auction #39 (lot #781)|
|Pick.70||94130||PMG 30 VF||€ 153||Heritage Auctions, 2015 (lot #26540)|
|Pick.70||97003||PMG 40 EF||$ 99||Heritage Auctions, 2018 (lot #29201)|
|Pick.70||98810||F||-||Heritage Auctions Europe (MPO), 2014 (lot #7554)|
|Pick.70||98843||F/VF||-||Frühwald, Auction 132, 2019 (Lot #604) avec un billet de 5 piastres et 25 centimes 1875|
|Pick.70||101563||VG||$ 20||Heritage Auctions, 2015 (lot #83077)|
|Pick.70||112209||VG+||$ 72||Spink Auction #38 in 2018 (lot #324) w/ 4 notes sold $ 290|
|Pick.70||118763||VF||$ 164||Heritage Auctions, 2014 (lot #21521), 2 notes on uncut sheet|
|Pick.70||118764||VF||-||Heritage Auctions, 2014 (lot #21521), 2 notes on uncut sheet|
|Pick.70||120738||PMG 55 About UNC||$ 153||Heritage Auctions, 2016 (lot #27593)|
|Pick.70||122024||-||-||vu sur le site banknote.ws|
|Pick.70||122073||VG+||€ 90||cgb.fr (lot #b44_0821)|
|Pick.70||122720||XF||€ 200||for sale on ebay in September 2020|
|Pick.70||128655||F+||£ 170||Spink Auction #16008 de 2016 (lot #1149) w/ 3 notes: 25c, 1 piastre and 5 piastres|
|Pick.70||155056||-||-||seen on realbanknotes.com|
|Pick.70||170713||-||-||seen on Pinterest|
|Pick.70||172739||VF||$ 197||actually for sale on ebay in September 2020|
|Pick.70||172755||VG||€ 1900||w/ DOMINGUE signature ? Actually for sale on ebay in September 2020|
|Pick.70||172896||VG+||$ 72||Spink Auction #38 in 2018 (lot #324) w/ 4 notes sold $ 290|
|Pick.70||173033||PMG 20 VF||$ 195||actually for sale on ebay in September 2020|
|Pick.70||173114||-||-||seen on popscreencdn.com|
|Pick.70||178869||F||-||Heritage Auctions, 2019 (lot #90099)|
|Pick.70||187525||PMG 40 EF Net||$ 85||Stack's Bowers, 2017 (lot #76150) photo of the WPM|
|Pick.70||192272||G||$ 20||YNH Collection|
|Pick.70||197733||VF||€ 72||cgb.fr 2018, (lot #259-183047)|
Price and quotation: Findings
Since the 2008 World Paper Money (WPM) catalog (5), the banknote ratings have not changed for 12 years! Count $ 10 for a copy in "G grade (or PMG 4)", $ 35 in "F grade (or PMG 12)" and $ 100 in "XF grade (or PMG 40)". No rating indicated for higher states! So do the prices noted in our table really reflect the reality of the market? We think that the banknote is undoubtedly much rarer than it appears and that the small number of banknotes found is not in adequacy with the true value of the 1 piastre Type 1875! And there are many historical clues that lead us to think that the note is not that common:
- a note denominated in "piastre" while all the other issues of Haiti are denominated in "gourde",
- a theoretical running time of less than two years (1874-1876),
- an issue in practice aborted (printing sheets not trimmed, unsigned notes),
- a number of issued notes that we estimate for the moment at 200,000 copies (largest known number: 197,733),
- a number of banknotes found over 20 years less than 50 copies.
True or false signatures
Among the banknotes in our inventory, we discovered two signed copies! The first note is numbered "172755" and is also currently offered for sale on ebay at a price of € 1900. This price would be justified by the presence of the signature of President Domingue, which would suddenly make it the only copy that we know of. But not easy to verify if the banknote is genuine or not since we have no precedent. The second note numbered "71961" sold for $ 88 in July 2020 and this time features three apocryphal handwritten signatures. It can be observed that these signatures appear to be from the time, but again, there is no indication that they are authentic. If in doubt, prefer the purchase of an unsigned copy!
PMG Population Report
There are 16 graded banknotes in the PMG Population Report including one graded PMG 55 proof and only one grade 62 banknote. A very large number of banknotes found have irregular edges, some after having been torn from untrimmed sheets and others simply poorly cut. PMG grades must take these peculiarities into account and the difficulty remains very real to find 1 piastre without these defects and in perfect condition!
(1) According to the list of countries with GDP (nominal) per capita.
(2) Catalog reference: 25 centimes Type 1875 = Pick: # 68, 1 piastre Type 1875 = Pick: # 70 and 5 piastres Type 1875 = Pick: # 72.
(3) "Understand the scale of qualities" ... Numizon enlightens you on grading.
(4) Catalogs from the following auction houses: Archives International Auctions (AIA), cgb.fr, Christoph Gärtner, Corne Akkermans, Heidrun Höhn, Heritage Auctions, Dix Noonan Webb (DNW), MPO, Numiscollection, Platt House, Sincona, Spink and Stack's Bowers.
(5) “Haiti” Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, 1368-1960, 12th edition (page 647).