500 rupien type 1912

A very rare note from the German occupation in East Africa.

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On February 25, 2020, the sales company Dix Noonan Webb (DNW) will offer for sale a very rare copy of the 500 rupien type 1912 (Ref. Pick: # 5, Rosenberg: # 904 or Grabowski: # DOA-5), issued during the period of German occupation in East Africa between 1885 and 1918 (Lot # 574). The note has a marked central fold, slightly rounded corners and a few folds of angles. It is however classified in XF/AU grade and estimated between £ 6,000.00 and £ 8,000.00. This is the second time that DNW has offered this note for sale. This bill is so rare that only a few auction houses like Heritage Auctions, Stack's Bowers, Corne Akkermans or London Coins Ltd have also had the privilege of offering this banknote at auction ...



Historical context

In 1885, Chancellor Otto von Bismark's Germany embarked on the creation of a protectorate in East Africa. The colony quickly spread over several countries including Burundi, Rwanda and part of Tanzania. In order to regulate monetary circulation and facilitate transactions in the occupation zone, the Deutsch-Ostafrikanische Bank (German Bank for East Africa) was created on January 6, 1905. It has all the powers to conduct banking activities, including the issuance of coins and notes denominated in German rupees. It fixes its head office and its jurisdiction in Berlin and installs a branch in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania (see photo below).


The bank opened its doors in November 1905 with the issue of a first banknote of 5 roupien type 1905. In 1906, the denominations of 10 and 50 roupien type 1905 were put into circulation. Then in the year 1907, it was the 100 roupien type 1905. In 1912, the increasingly growing demand for higher payment values, forced the bank to issue a last note of 500 roupien type 1912. The 5 notes are designed and printed by the Giesecke & Devrient printing house in Leipzig. All these banknotes will only circulate for a few years ... In 1918, after the German defeat during the First World War, the ex-colony was annexed, cut up and shared between Belgium and England ... thus giving birth in Belgian Congo and Tanganyika.

Banknote description

German Administration. Deutsch-Ostafrikanische Bank (DOAB). 1905-1912 Issue. The note was issued on September 2, 1912. Design and printing: Giesecke & Devriente in Leipzig. Dimensions: 180 x 110 mm. Watermark: star motif of the printer. Front and back: multicolored print, mainly brown and light blue. Front: the issuing institute "Die Deutsch-Ostafrikanische Bank (The German Bank for East Africa) pays the holder of this note at its Daressalaam cash desk without proof of identity. Fünf Hundert Rupien (Five hundred Rupies) at Daressalam, September 2, 1912. Deutsch-Ostafrikanische Bank ”. The banknote number is printed twice in red. The labels, the signature and the value in letters are printed in black on a blue and pink security background with the value "500" repeated continuously. On the left, in a frame decorated with patterns and rosettes, the portrait of the German emperor Wilhelm II (1859-1941) in admiral's uniform. Below, maritime symbols including an anchor, a buoy, a terrestrial globe, a rudder, a telescopic sight and a nautical compass.


Numizon inventory

Although our range of numbers found goes from note "N ° 00275" to note "N ° 1356", thus offering a probability of issue of at least 1500 copies ... the 500 rupien type 1912 would have been issued only 700 copies! We cannot confirm this number. By cons we know the existence of 12 copies:

NumberGradeSelling yearPriceSeller
00275F/VF2019£ 7 000Dix Noonan Webb (DNW)
00318PMG 12 Fine2019$ 3 120Heritage Auctions
00544PMG 30 Very Fine2019$ 13 200Stack's Bowers
00584F/VF+2016-Corne Akkermans
01181PMG 53 About Unc2018$ 36 000Heritage Auctions
01225PMG 63 Choice Unc2019$ 21 600Stack's Bowers
01290XF/AUFebruary 25, 2020estimate: £ 6 000Dix Noonan Webb (DNW)


  • "Die deutschen Banknoten ab 1871. 19. Auflage" by Holger Rosenberg, 2005.
  • "Die deutschen Banknoten ab 1871" by Hans Ludwig Grabowski, 2018.
  • "Papiergeld Spezialkatalog Deutschland" by Albert Pick / J.U. Rixen, 1991.

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