In the middle of the Second World War, the French metropolis was under German rule and the Bank of France was therefore physically unable to supply the African colonies with banknotes. To cope with this shortage, the Bank of West Africa (BWA) then turned to the United States to order a new series of 5 notes of 5, 10, 25, 100 and 1,000 francs. Printing is shared between the two American printers E. Wright Bank Note Co of Philadelphia and the American Bank Note Company (ABNC) of New York. Only the 10 francs type 1943 will be managed by the Imprimerie du Ruisseau in Algiers. The five banknotes will be issued between 1942 and 1943.
1,000 francs type 1942 purple
Book references: Pick: # 32a, The Banknote Book: # B119, Muszynski-Kolsky: # LK177. This banknote is the highest value of the series. The denomination is printed in predominantly purple color (hence undoubtedly its name) on a special paper called “planchette paper” (1) by the American Bank Note Company (ABNC). Its dimensions are 156 x 88 mm and the banknote does not have a Watermark. On the front, a purple frame composed of guilloche shapes is quite typical of the ABNC graphic style with the value "1000" repeated in the angles in white and obliquely in rosettes. In the center, against a pale green safety background, a representation of a busy commercial port (that of Dakar or Conakry?) With a locomotive, a boat at the quay and dockers at work. At the top of the frame, the issuing institute “BANQUE DE L'AFRIQUE OCCIDENTALE” is printed in white with the value in letters below. The numbering is printed in red. The note is dated "14-12-42" and includes the signatures with The Secretary General, Pierre Bourceret and The Comptroller General, Claude Bottin printed in purple. On the sides, the number value is repeated twice. The back has a purple frame made up of guilloche shapes similar to the front with the value "1000" repeated in the corners in white in rosettes. In the center of a pedestal, the three letters "BAO" are surrounded by a wreath of laurels and two purple rosettes. The value in figures is repeated on the sides. At the top, the issuing body “BANQUE DE L'AFRIQUE OCCIDENTALE” is printed in purple in capital letters. The total number of copies issued remains unknown to this day!
The banknote is very rare ... For the moment, we have only listed 32 copies of which the smallest known number is A.1 - 0000208 and the largest number observed is U.59 - 1469421. See the detail of the inventory in the table below:
|Pick # 32a / LK # 177a||A.1||208||$ 881.00||F||2014||Stack's Bowers|
|Pick # 32a / LK # 177a||E.1||396||€ 500.00||F||2018||cgb.fr|
|Pick # 32a / LK # 177a||C.4||278||€ 1,200.00||VF||2021||cgb.fr|
|Pick # 32a / LK # 177a||L.5||749||-||-||1997||Les billets de la BAO|
|Pick # 32a / LK # 177a||S.6||378||€ 1,550.00||XF+||2020||cgb.fr|
|Pick # 32a / LK # 177a||R.7||443||$ 411.00||PMG25||2016||Heritage Auctions|
|Pick # 32a / LK # 177a||Z.8||955||-||-||2021||WPM|
|Pick # 32a / LK # 177a||X.10||906||£ 230.00||VF||2014||Spink|
|Pick # 32a / LK # 177a||S.12||314||€ 520.00||XF||2017||cgb.fr|
|Pick #32a / LK #177a||W.12||446||€ 480.00||F||2005||Numiscollection|
|Pick # 32a / LK # 177a||W.12||661||-||-||2021||Le site du Collectionneur|
|Pick # 32a / LK # 177a||Y.17||448||€ 580.00||F||2014||cgb.fr|
|Pick # 32a / LK # 177a||F.18||823||€ 1,500.00||VF+||2021||ebay|
|Pick # 32a / LK # 177a||W.18||944||€ 520.00||F||2004||cgb.fr|
|Pick # 32a / LK # 177a||C.19||448||€ 300.00||F+||2016||Numizon|
|Pick # 32a / LK # 177a||N.19||908||$ 1,320.00||PMG 53||2020||Stack's Bowers|
|Pick # 32a / LK # 177a||A.21||081||€ 374.00||VF||1996||Private Collection|
|Pick # 32a / LK # 177a||R.21||167||£ 200.00||F||2013||Spink|
|Pick # 32a / LK # 177a||Z.23||671||€ 900.00||VF||2014||cgb.fr|
|Pick # 32a / LK # 177a||A.33||036||€ 760.00||F+||2004||cgb.fr|
|Pick # 32a / LK # 177a||P.34||906||-||-||2021||-|
|Pick # 32a / LK # 177a||F.38||505||£ 260.00||F||2010||Spink|
|Pick # 32a / LK # 177a||F.39||802||-||-||2021||Bank Note Museum|
|Pick # 32a / LK # 177a||W.39||254||€ 770.00||VF-||2021||ebay|
|Pick # 32a / LK # 177a||W.44||643||-||VF-||2021||-|
|Pick # 32a / LK # 177a||D.52||695||€ 1,250.00||XF||2018||cgb.fr|
|Pick # 32a / LK # 177a||P.53||497||€ 280.00||F+||2004||cgb.fr|
|Pick # 32a / LK # 177a||A.55||705||€ 500.00||VF-||2021||delcampe|
|Pick # 32a / LK # 177a||K.55||364||$ 529.00||PCGS30||2014||Heritage Auctions|
|Pick # 32a / LK # 177a||K.58||009||£ 1,000.00||PMG53||2019||Spink|
|Pick # 32a / LK # 177a||R.59||860||£ 300.00||VF||2009||Spink|
|Pick # 32a / LK # 177a||U.59||421||-||-||1995||World War II Remenbered|
Clarification: the note numbered "S.12-314" was used to serve as a SPECIMEN! The bill has partial perforations "CANCELLED" and a handwritten number "149" in blue pen on the front top right.
We can notice that this type is very rare to find in good condition. The dimensions of the note, the period and the place of issue undoubtedly did not facilitate favorable conditions of conservation. The banknote numbered N.19 - 908 is undoubtedly the finest copy known today. This one was sold graded PMG53 for $ 1,320.00 at Stack's Bowers in June 2020 (Lot #70358).
It should also be noted that only 4 copies are graded in the PMG population Report with 1 PMG25 banknote, 1 PMG30 banknote and two PMG53 graded banknotes compared to the 20 graded specimens (Pick # 32s)! The 1,000 francs type 1942 is a note which is undoubtedly still lacking in many advanced collections of the Bank of West Africa and its quotation does not reflect its real rarity. Paradoxically, the banknote does not seem to find its audience, because two copies are currently for sale in Numizon listings!
(1) The "planchettes" are small circles of cyan, yellow and magenta color incorporated into the pulp and forming a safety background.
- The two postcards of the port of Dakar and Conakry come from the site of Eric Martin: "The banknotes of the FWA" (french/English).
- “Banknotes of West Africa” by Jean-Luc Aubert, 1997 (page 77).
- “Les billets africains de la Zone Franc” by Roger Leclerc and Maurice Kolsky, Éditions Gadoury 2000 (in French. Out of print).
- “French West Africa” Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, 1368-1960, 12th edition (pages 545).
- Photo archives: Bank Note Museum, cgb.fr, ebay, Heritage Auctions, Spink and Stack's Bowers.
- Thanks to MM. Jean-Luc Aubert and Max Di Francesco for their contribution to the production of this article.