5 pounds type 1949

A rare banknote from South West Africa

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Historical context

South West Africa is the name officially given to Namibia before 1990. First called Transgariep or South West Africa, this region officially became the protectorate of German South West Africa from 1884 to 1915, during colonization by the troops of Kaiser Wilhelm II. The territory then kept this name during the mandate of South Africa between 1920 and 1968. Although officially renamed Namibia following the revocation of the South African mandate by the United Nations in 1968, the country nevertheless retains these two names used until 1990, the year of the effective independence of Namibia.

Between the 1930s and 1959, three private banks shared the issue of South West African pound notes: Barclays Bank (Dominion, Colonial and Overseas), Standard Bank of South Africa Limited and Volkskas Limited. The South West African pound is then indexed at par with the South African pound. Banknotes put into circulation circulated in conjunction with South African Reserve Bank notes denominated in South Africa Pound until 1961, when they were withdrawn and replaced by notes denominated in Rand only. In total, over 30 years, 15 banknotes have been issued in 3 languages: Afrikaans, English and German. These are quite rare today and unfortunately can only be collected in average quality.

5 pounds type 1949 Volkskas Limited

In 1949, the Volkskas Beperk (People's Bank), a South African private commercial bank founded in 1934 as a cooperative loan bank, issued a series of 10 shillings, 1 pound and 5 pounds notes for circulation in South West Africa from its branch in Windhoek, as indicated on the front of each of the three denominations: “Volkskas Limited / registered commercial bank / promises to pay to bearer on demand / at Windhoek”. The 5 pounds type 1949 (Ref. Pick # 15, TBB: # B303) is the third banknote in the series. And although the 15 banknotes issued in South West Africa are all more or less difficult to collect, the 5 pounds is undoubtedly the rarest: 78,000 banknotes were issued and 58,775 banknotes were cancelled, or 19,225 notes unredeemed. The note has 5 dates of issue (June 1, 1949, May 11, 1950, June 4, 1952, September 1, 1958, September 1, 1959) and two groups of signatures of the Chief Agent (Hoof Agent) and the General Manager (Hoofbestuurder): Cornelius Johannes Wolfaardt and Johannes Jacobus Bosman for reference Pick # 15a and Kurt Heinrich Theodor Linning and Johannes Albertus Hurter for reference Pick # 15b.


Above: front of the 5 pounds type 1949 with a view of Epupa Falls on the Cunene River in Namibia.


Above: back of the 5 pounds type 1949 with three oryx gazelles (or Gemsbok) in the savannah of Namibia.

Numizon inventory

9 copies are currently listed in our database, details of which are given in the table below:

RefrenceSourceLotPriceIssue dateSeriesNumberGrade
P-15aSpink, 20182409£ 9,00001/06/1949S/100002PMG 35
P-15aHeritage Auctions, 201928883$ 5,04001/06/1949S/107368PMG 35
P-15bLondon Coins, 2018441£ 44001/09/1958S/334468VG
P-15bbidorbuy, 2015194389199R 7,500 (1)01/09/1958S/336240G?
P-15bBank Note Museum- - 01/09/1959S/442716-
P-15bSpink, 2018771£ 3,00001/09/1959S/447399VF
P-15bworldbanknotescoins- - 01/09/1959S/452202-
P-15bSpink, 2017587£ 9,00001/09/1959S/469028PMG 40 EPQ
P-15bHeritage Auctions, 201828203$ 1,70001/09/1959S/474429PMG 25

Our analysis

We can see that the type is very rare to find in good grade. The dimensions of the note, the period and the place of issue undoubtedly did not facilitate favorable conditions of conservation. The banknotes dated 11.05.1950 and 04.06.1952 have not been found. This is not necessarily a sign of scarcity, but it seems, on reading this first score, that banknotes issued in 1958 and 1959 (Pick # 15b) are more common than those issued between 1949 and 1952 (Pick # 15a). A find is always possible and could quickly overturn our certainties ...

It should also be noted that the 7 sales that we pointed out were mostly concluded between 2017 and 2019! We have not found any traces of this banknote prior to 2015, although a large number of sales are now available digitally since the early 2000s (2). A mystery though: the ridiculous outcome of the London Coins sale, Auction # 161 of 2018, in which the note numbered S/3 34468 in VF grade, realized the price of £ 440 (lot #441). This is the banknote that illustrates this article.

Graded banknotes

PMG Population Report currently only keeps 6 graduated copies of PMG 20 to PMG 40 EPQ. The difficulty of finding banknotes in good condition is therefore well confirmed and they are highly sought after. The prices are also accordingly and the Top Pop copy (PMG 40 EPQ) is quite revealing, since the 5 pounds numbered S/4 69028 offered at Spink in 2017 reached the price of £ 9,000 (lot #587).

ReferenceIssues datesTotalPMG 20PMG 25PMG 30PM 35PMG 40 EPQ
Pick # 15a1949-1952211
Pick # 15b1958-19594121

In accounting terms, a 3rd copy of the reference Pick # 15a and graded PMG 20 is missing from our score, as well as two copies of the reference Pick # 5b graded PMG 30. The known number of tickets for the type will therefore be 9 + 3 , or 12 copies!

Information: do not hesitate to send us the photos of the copy (s) of your collection, so that we can enrich the knowledge of the Numizon community. In this regard, the inventory will be available very soon with the new website interface. And depending on the intensity of your participation, it will be rewarded with a bonus points system, details of which we will provide when setting up this new service.


(1) The price is indicated in Rand. The rand is the official currency of South Africa (symbol: R, code: ZAR).
(2) The old paper-money catalogs in our possession were not consulted, especially for lack of time and the tiny possibility of finding usable photos there and corresponding to the sale line ...

Our sources

  • "South West Africa", Wikipédia.
  • "Volkskas", Wikipédia.
  • "South West Africa" by Owen W. Linzmeyer.
  • "Southwest Africa", Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, 1368-1960, 12e édition (pages 1086 to 1087).
  • Photos archives: London Coins, Spink and Worldbanknotescoins.

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