5 dollars type 1940

Study of a rare British North Borneo Company banknote!

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As our work on referencing the Numizon catalog of all the countries of the world progresses (currently 84 countries for 3,352 cards referenced), this accumulation of information feeds by default our listings engine which is continuously enriched. This double action allows you to capture more and more banknotes to buy on auction sites and in national or international auction houses.

Thus, with the recent publication of British North Borneo Company banknotes, Numizon detected a very interesting listing concerning a 5 dollar banknote type 1940 (1) whose sale ends in one day! The copy is numbered H017942 and bears the signature of Treasurer William Anthony Casterton Smelt. The seller does not indicate the grade but the note appears to be in VF grade. As of this writing, the banknote is already up for 32 bids and fetching a price of US $ 1,150.00 (2).



So let's take a closer look at all of this… with the 1940 type 5 dollar score that Numizon made for you (see table below). All the data collected comes from digital sources. We point out that we did not have the time and / or the physical possibility to consult old sales catalogs in paper form in which photos are often lacking. The results of this study will inevitably be partial and incomplete!

P-30aNoble Numismatics3840AU$ 260H001970VG2018
P-30aHeritage Auctions26724US$ 1,260H006404PCGS 252019
P-30aNoble Numismatics4399AU$ 200H008661VF1999
P-30aSpink166GPB 360H009627F+2013
P-30aNoble Numismatics2200AU$ 1,300H009853VF2016
P-30aebay284228907988US$ 1,150H017942VF2021
P-30aBank Note Museum- - H019011-2021
P-30aHeritage Auctions26115US$ 956H023385PMG 352016
P-30aSpink205GPB 750H025200VF2013
P-30aNoble Numismatics3838AU$ 500H028814VF2018
P-30aSpink633GPB 2,700H032448PMG 502017
P-30aWorthPoint- - H033753-2021
P-30aSpink22SGD 1,300H035744VF2015
P-30aStack's Bowers12542US$ 717H038302PMG 122011
P-30aSpink107EUR 785H038118VF2016
P-30aSpink206GPB 600H041378PMG 252013
P-30aPMG Population Report- - H045552-2013
P-30aStack's Bowers80005US$ 1,613H048343VF2011
P-30aHeritage Auctions28152US$ 2,300H048616PCGS 30 Apparent2021
P-30aNoble Numismatics3839AU$ 900H049345VF2018
P-30amedia.karousell.com- - H049883PMG 252021
P-30aChristoph Gärtner559EUR 1,050H051109F-2017

Numizon analysis

Over the past 10 years, we've only seen 21 sales and one older sale dating back to 1999. So on average, you only have two or three chances per year of getting a copy of this type!

The humid and tropical climate of Borneo has undoubtedly had a significant influence, because we immediately see that the 5 dollars type 1940 is very rare above the VF grade: only one PMG 50 graded copy was sold in 2017 at £ 2,700 from Spink (Lot #633). The ratings given in The Banknote Book therefore reflect our findings fairly well: $ 1,200 in G grade, $ 1,200 in VF grade and $ 4,000 in UNC grade. On the other hand, it seems that the WPM quotes are no longer quite up to date and rather correspond to the copy sold AU$ 200 in 1999 at Noble Numismatics (Lot : #2200). On the other hand, the WPM does not rate the note in XF grade, which confirms our analysis of the grades.

If one interrogates the database of the PMG Population Report, the score are a little more eloquent with 35 copies listed and graded with the following distribution:

  • PMG 10 = 1 note,
  • PMG 12 = 2 notes,
  • PMG 15 = 5 notes,
  • PMG 20 = 3 notes,
  • PMG 25 = 12 notes,
  • PMG 30 = 7 notes,
  • PMG 35 = 4 notes,
  • PMG 50 = 1 note.

Finally, and although the total number of banknotes printed is not indicated in any reference work, it is possible to say that the 5 dollars was issued in at least 52,000 copies, since the smallest note known today is numbered H001970 and the largest known number is numbered H051109.

To conclude, if you miss tomorrow's ebay sale, this time you will have 31 days of delay and ... a second chance with a second copy currently on sale at Heritage Auctions (Lot #28152). The note is numbered H048616 and is graded PCGS 30. Estimated at US $ 1,500.00, the note has already reached the price of $ 2,300.00 ...

After these two sales, you will have to resign yourself and theoretically wait until next year to try your luck again!


(1) Known catalog references: Pick: # 30a, The Banknote Book: # B116a, # KNB12 et Tan # N12.
(2) The banknote will finally be sold for $ 2,325.00 on April 1, 2021.

Our sources

  • "British North Borneo" Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, 1368-1960, 12th edition (pages 162 to 164).
  • "British North Borneo" by Owen W. Linzmeyer.
  • Photos archive : Bank Note Museum, Christoph Gärtner, Heritage Auctions, Noble Numismatics, Spink and Stack's Bowers.

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