At the beginning of the Second World War, metropolitan France is stunned, occupied and no longer relies on anything at all. She finds a salvific legitimacy among her colonies. And in a burst of pride, a French state is "reinvented" in Africa! Named legally "Free French Africa", it includes Cameroon and French Equatorial Africa (FEA).
In August 1940, General Edgard de Larminat (1895-1962) was appointed High Commissioner and his mission was to organize the rallying of the Middle Congo to Free France. But his powers overlap those of Governor General Félix Éboué (1884-1944). On August 26, he declared Chad's allegiance to General de Gaulle: "Africa enters the history of resistance through the great door" and as the ethnologist Jacques Soustelle put it: "Free France was firstly African" (1). The French Equatorial Africa is declared independent of the Vichy France and Brazzaville becomes the center of operations of Free France. It was then decided to issue a series called "Free French Africa" and composed of four new notes of 5, 25, 100 and 1000 francs.
This series takes the four notes designed by Sebastien Laurent (1887-1973) between 1933 and 1937 for the Bank of West Africa. As the metropolis is occupied, the Bank of France is therefore unable to print these new bills and the printing is therefore entrusted to the English printer Bradbury Wilkinson & Co of London. The new series has a symbolic addition, probably related to the historical situation, with a French flag positioned in the upper right corner of the notes. But strangely, this tricolor flag will only be reproduced in one color: in blue and only on the front for the 5 francs, in red and only on the front for the 25 francs, in blue on the front and in cyan on the back for 100 francs and in pink on the front and in red on the back for the 1000 francs!
The bills are printed on a paper with the same watermark of a girl in profile. It is the signature of General de Larminat (2) which is used for the Defense Council and that of Pierre Denis for the Finance Director. The printing being managed from England, the serial numbers used on the notes no longer correspond to the usual numbering of the Bank of France. The notes are not dated but were put into circulation between 1942 and 1943.
The 1000 francs Type FWA 1937 Modified
We present below the date to date on the banknote issued and all variants that we know so far. The complete and detailed description of the note, as well as the cards of the three other denominations of 5, 25 and 100 francs are to be consulted on the Numizon catalog.
According to Roger Leclerc and Maurice Kolsky (3), only 16,375 copies were printed for the Brazzaville issue. No issues are known for Cameroon. The authors indicate that "25 banknotes were in stock at 9 Princess Street on October 31, 1943". Concerning the specimen on issued note, Leclerc and Kolsky finally specify that there are only 5 copies in series A (1942) and 58 copies in series B (1943)!
The Numizon score has 24 banknotes divided as below:
1) issued note. Series A (Ref. P9a, B204a, LK507a, SB1174)
July 31, 1942 / Series A050 571 / "WWII Remenbered", Schwan & Boling (4).
July 31, 1942 / Series A079 310 / "Collector's Site" by Jean-Luc Buathier.
July 31, 1942 / Series A084 216 / PCGS 20. Sold for $ 2040 at HA (lot # 28296).
July 31, 1942 / Series A085 284 / F grade. Sold for € 950 at cgb.fr (lot # b36_1526).
2) issued note. Series B (Ref. P9b, B204b, LK507a, SB1174)
May 31, 1943 / Series B009 007 / VG grade. Sold 1000 € at cgb.fr (lot # 4180233).
May 31, 1943 / Series B016 773 / PMG 25. Sold for £ 1300 at Spink (lot # 330) The Michel Muszynski Collection.
May 31, 1943 / Series B03x x88 / VF grade. Sold for € 850 at cgb.fr (lot # b36_1527).
May 31, 1943 / Series B048 964 / G grade. Sold for £ 390 at Spink (lot: # 377). Colnect.com.
May 31, 19433 / Series B052 241 / "WWII Remenbered", Schwan & Boling, page 124.
3) Specimen on issued note. 5 copies. Series A (Ref. P9s1, B204s1, LK507s)
4) Specimen on issued note. 58 copies. Series B (Ref. P9s2, B204s2, LK507s)
May 31, 1943 / Series B026 208 / PCGS 25. For sale at $ 1999 on ebay (# 254361898495).
May 31, 1943 / Series B040 189 / PMG 30. Sold for € 1150 at cgb.fr (lot # 4330246).
May 31, 1943 / Series B046 956 / VF grade. Sold for € 1900 at cgb.fr (lot # b36_1525).
May 31, 1943 / Series B062 520 / PMG 55. Sold for $ 3055 at HA (lot # 28317).
May 31, 1943 / Series B062 549 / XF grade. Sold for £ 1200 at Spink (lot # 1690).
May 31, 1943 / Series B062 550 / XF grade. For sale at € 1800 at Künker (Ref # 94425).
Note: All specimens in Series A and B are punched with the number "114" upside down with a red "SPECIMEN" overprinted diagonally. We have no information about this perforation "114", which is also found on the vouchers of the Government General of French Equatorial Africa.
5) Specimen A000 001 - A092 000 (Ref. P9s3, B204s3)
No copy found for now!
6) Specimen A092 001 - B047 000, perforated "SPECIMEN" (Ref. P9s4, B204s4)
1942? / Series A092 001 - B047 000 / XF grade. Sold for £ 1500 at Spink (lot: # 610)
7) Specimen with letter A barred and perforated "SPECIMEN" (Ref. P9s5, B204s5)
1942? / Series (A) B047 001 - B063 500 / PMG 40. Sold for $ 3360 at HA (lot # 28313).
8) Specimen A000 000 with cancellation perforation (Ref. P9s6, B204s6, SB1174s)
1942? / Series A000 000 / PMG 64. Private collection. Perforation on the right.
1942? / Series A000 000 / UNC grade. Sold for £ 1,100 at Spink (lot: # 376). Perforation on the left.
1942? / Series A000 000 / XF grade. Sold £ 1200 at Spink (lot: # 688). Perforation on the left.
1942? / Series A000 000 / aUNC grade. Sold 2600 € at cgb.fr (lot # b36_1523). Perforation on the left.
9) Specimen A000 001 - A002 000 (Ref. P9s7, B204s7, SB1174s)
1942? / Series A000 001 - A002 000 / "WWII Remenbered", Schwan & Boling, page 124.
The references catalogs paper:
P = Pick (World Paper Money).
LK = Leclerc-Kolsky.
B = TBB (The Banknote Book).
SB = Schwan & Boling.
FWA = French West Africa.
FEA = French Equatorial Africa.
FFA = Free French Africa (AFL = Afrique Française Libre).
All the notes that we found to realize this article are very rare. Our score is a reflection of a study to date and is necessarily incomplete. There are certainly still missing bills to our list. By reading this article and to improve this new inventory, any collector with an unlisted copy can contact us at: email@example.com. Thank you to send us a photo front and back of sufficient quality for proper observation of your note.
(1) "La France Libre fut africaine (Free France was African)" by Eric Jennings, 384 pages. Perrin editions, 2014.
(2) See the signature of the General on the Cash Notes of the Government General of French Equatorial Africa.
(3) "Les billets de la zone franc (Franc Zone notes)" by Roger Leclerc and Maurice Kolsky, 376 pages. Éditions Victor Gadoury, 2000 (out of print).
(4) "WWII Remenbered", by Frederick C. Schwan & Joseph E. Boling. 784 pages. BNR Press editions, 1995.
(-) "French Equatorial Africa" by Owen W. Linzmayer, The Banknote Book.
and the 29 copies of this series available for sale in the "Ads" section!