In its E-auction # 346 which ended on December 2, 2019, cab.fr offered a very rare copy from the year 1920 concerning the 20 franc Tunisia Type 1912 note (Ref. Pick: # 6 or Kolsky: # 406).
GI's favorite note
In general, the type of this note, which we call the 20 francs "Moorish - large format", is the most common for the Bank of Algeria / Tunisia, with currently more than 1,600 banknotes identified. This is explained as much by the number of copies printed, estimated at 91.825 million (the largest alphabet found being 3673), as by the aesthetic success of the front and back, making a vignette very largely brought back to the country by the GI's. In addition, annotations tell us that with the exchange rate of the time, 20 francs was equivalent to 40 cents, for a piece of paper overall 2 times larger than a $ 1 bill, which must have psychologically played in the choice to bring this type rather than the more modest 5 francs Type 1924 contemporary, or that the 50 francs vert type 1912 and 100 francs Violet type 1920, not much larger than the 20 francs…
This apparent availability on the market hides huge disparities. Issued from 1914 to 1942, the 20 francs "Moorish - large format" can, all things considered, compare to the 500 francs type 1888 "Bleu et Rose" from the Bank of France: a very long life, with banal vintages for the last years of issue, which contrast with very large rarities for the first vintages.
Thus, by crossing the years and the possible overprint for Tunisia, as well as a possible alternation of notes not overprinted then overprinted for the same vintage, these are 32 variants which are currently known, but all is not yet discovered!
Regarding the "TUNISIA" surcharge, the data obtained by comparing either the alphabets actually found or the number of copies listed differ, but it can be estimated that approximately 1 in 5 "Moorish - large format" received this surcharge. Again, there are large disparities, the most emblematic case being the 1938 and 1939 vintages, much easier to find with overprint than without. Nevertheless, we can remember that all the 20 francs overcharged before 1929 are very rare.
The 1920 vintage can be found for Algeria: 13 copies are currently listed and, above all, they suggest that at least 256 alphabets have been printed, which is significant.For Tunisia, the copy "T.968 / 874" sold this month is only the second listed copy: so far, only the copy "C.956 / 911", also sold by the cgb .fr in… 2013, was known!
Together, they give an impression estimate of only 13 alphabets, but the other known alphabets that surround them are 924 (for Algeria) and 1012 (for Tunisia in 1921): the range of uncertainty is therefore enormous, nevertheless it is certain that the 20 francs 1920 for Tunisia must be very rarely represented in the binders of collectors.
We hope that these few details will help interested collectors in their research, and we thank in advance all those who will help us to improve this knowledge.