The start of World War II and the brutal defeat of France upset relations between the metropolis and its colonies. In the face of adversity, the Moroccan protectorate nevertheless maintains its confidence in the French government of Vichy. However, Morocco, like the rest of North Africa, will very quickly become a fundamental stake for the powers engaged in the world conflict. Everything precipitates with the entry into the war of the United States in December 1941. Priority is given to the reconquest of Europe and the territory of North Africa acquires importance as a strategic platform. The landing of November 1942 and its consequences constitute a major turning point in Franco-Moroccan relations. By their behavior and their equipment, the Americans enjoy an enormous prestige, enhanced by the fact that they can provide basic necessities (tea, sugar, cotton) in a very difficult period for the Moroccans" (1). The French authority is undermined ...
On the monetary level, the Bank of France is therefore no longer able to supply its colonies with banknotes. In 1943, the State Bank of Morocco was obliged to order from the Americans a new range of banknotes of 5, 10, 50, 100, 1,000 and 5,000 francs. The four smallest denominations will be printed by E. A. Wright Bank Note Company of Philadelphia and the two large denominations of 1,000 and 5,000 francs by the American Bank Note Company (ABNC) of New York.
The 5,000 franc type 1943
Book references: Pick: # 32a, The Banknote Book: # B223, Muszynski-Kolsky: # MK545. The banknote was issued in 400,000 copies. It is the largest denomination in the series but the second largest banknote (2) with dimensions of 200 x 115 mm. At first glance, the 5,000 francs has strange similarities to its cousin the US dollar with a green print on off-white paper with a security background made up of wavy lines and dots in random cyan, yellow and magenta colors. Then, the front displays a composition of abstract figures and rosettes very characteristic of the style of the American Bank Note Company (ABNC). The value in figures is repeated four times in the corners in floral medallions. The wording of the issuing institute "State Bank of Morocco", the date "1-8-1943" and the text of the law are printed in green. Only the numbers and the alphabet are printed in red. The back is also composed of abstract figures, rosettes and arabesques. A star with 5 branches (3) is arranged in the center of a medallion of abstract shapes. The texts and signatures are in Arabic and printed in green. The value in figures is repeated twice on the sides in two medallions of identical shape. The banknote is not watermarked. The 5,000 francs have been counterfeited. A counterfeit note sold for € 411 in 2006: D.11-076.
Above: single-sided proofs of the front and back, unnumbered and unperforated, glued onto strong cardboard.
There is only one variant of signatures with, from left to right, the High Commissioner of the Chérifien Government, the Officer of the State Bank of Morocco - Rabat Branch and the Chairman of the Board of the State Bank of Morocco: Mohamed Ben Mohamed Guessous, Charles Bapst and Louis de Castelbajac. The three signatures are arranged in the center at the bottom of the back of the note:
Types of specimens
The first type of specimen (A) is known with two "SPECIMEN" overprints in red on the back, dated 1-8-43 and numbered 000000 on a banknote of the alphabet A.1-000 and perforated with three holes of cancellation at the location of the signatures. This specimen was printed by E. A. Wright Bank Note Company of Philadelphia.
The second type of specimen (B) is known with an oblique overprint "SPECIMEN" in red on the front and back, dated 1-8-43 and numbered 000000 on an A.1-000 note.
The third type of specimen (C) has a double oblique overprint with a black "SPECIMEN" stamp affixed by hand on the front on banknotes of the W.16 alphabet and dated 1-8-43.
|Pick: # 32as1||A||A.1||000000||£ 400||UNC||Spink|
|Pick: # 32as1||A||A.1||000000||£ 1,700||XF||Spink|
|Pick: # 32as1||A||A.1||000000||$ 1,140||PMG53 EPQ||Heritage Auctions|
|Pick: # 32as2||B||A.1||000012||£ 700||UNC||Spink|
|Pick: # 32as2||B||A.1||000016||$ 1,200||PMG55||Heritage Auctions|
|Pick: # 32as2||B||A.1||000019||$ 1,500||PMG55||Heritage Auctions|
|Pick: # 32as2||B||A.1||000118||-||UNC||Private collection|
|Pick: # 32as3||C||J.9||892||-||PMG25||-|
|Pick: # 32as3||C||S.9||217033||-||PMG25||Spink|
|Pick: # 32as3||C||L.11||396||-||-||-|
|Pick: # 32as3||C||W.16||399933||€ 600||XF||cgb.fr|
For the moment, we have only listed 17 copies of the 5,000 francs type 1943 in issued note, details of which can be found in the table below:
|Pick: # 32a||H.3||634||-||-||ebay|
|Pick: # 32a||J.3||676||G||€ 680||cgb.fr|
|Pick: # 32a||Q.3||632||PMG25||$ 1,200||Heritage Auctions|
|Pick: # 32a||D.4||127||-||-||The Bank Note Book catalogue|
|Pick: # 32a||W.5||696||VF-||€ 1,400||Christoph Gärtner|
|Pick: # 32a||H.9||359||G+||€ 518||cgb.fr|
|Pick: # 32a||P.9||810||PCGS20||$ 1,140||Heritage Auctions|
|Pick: # 32a||X.9||913||PMG25 NET||-||ebay|
|Pick: # 32a||J.10||628||PCGS40||$ 1,200||Heritage Auctions|
|Pick: # 32a||U.10||397||VF||-||George Thomas Sale|
|Pick: # 32a||X.10||836||-||-||anciennemonnaiedumaroc.com|
|Pick: # 32a||D.11 (Counterfeit)||076||VF-||€ 411||cgb.fr|
|Pick: # 32a||K.12||782||-||-||Bank Note Museum|
|Pick: # 32a||N.12||204||F+||€ 900||cgb.fr|
|Pick: # 32a||P.13||067||VF||€ 800||cgb.fr|
|Pick: # 32a||O.15||024||F+||€ 650||cgb.fr|
|Pick: # 32a||C.16||537||VF-||€ 1,100||cgb.fr|
|Pick: # 32a||R.16||213||VF+||-||catawiki|
We can notice that the banknote is very rare to find in good quality. The dimensions of the banknote, the period and the place of issue undoubtedly did not facilitate better storage conditions. The banknote numbered J.10-648 and graded PCGS40 is the finest copy currently known. This one was sold for $ 1,200 at Heritage Auctions in January 2020 (lot # 28308).
Series 1, 2, 6, 7 and 8 have not yet been found! The note is also listed in the PMG Population Report with only 5 copies graded PMG25. 13 specimen banknotes are also graded but we have no details on the classification of the referenced types (A, B or C).
The 5,000 francs type 1943 is a note which is still lacking in many advanced collections and its price does not reflect its real rarity. Paradoxically, the note does not seem to find its audience, since the numbered copy W.5-696 in VF- grade remained unsold at € 1,400 then € 900 during 3 successive sales offered at Christoph Gärtner in 2019!
(1) “De Gaulle et Mohammed V, 18 juin 1940 - 18 juin 1945” by Maurice Vaïsse, in Guerres mondiales et conflits contemporains, 2011 (in French).
(2) The 1000 francs type 1943 (Pick: # 28) is oddly larger with dimensions of 220 x 126 mm!
(3) Erratum: a reader, whose correction we are publishing here, made the judicious remark that the star in the center of the back is not a Star of David (which, for its part, has 6 branches) but a star with 5 branches symbolizing the 5 pillars of Islam. Regarding the Star of David, in Hebrew, we speak of "magen David", which literally means "shield of David". Indeed, according to the biblical writings, the young David found himself in conflict with the king in place, Saul, who saw in him a dangerous rival. To escape the king, David was forced to flee to the mountains surrounding Jerusalem and took refuge in a cave. In order to protect him, God then raised up a spider which wove a web behind David so that the soldiers launched in pursuit could not suspect that he was in the cave thus covered ... And this is what saved him! The Star of David therefore symbolizes the spider's web that protected David, hence the term shield!
- "Morocco" by Owen W. Linzmeyer.
- "Morocco", Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, 1368-1960, 12th edition (pages 870).
- "Les billets du Maghreb et du Levant" by MM. Maurice Muszynski and Maurice Kolsky. Victor Gadoury Editions, 2002.
- Photos archives: Bank Note Museum, catawiki, cgb.fr, Heritage Auctions and Spink.
- Thanks to Mr. Jean-Luc Aubert for his contribution to the production of this article.