Historical context

In 1895, France created a vast region, French West Africa (FWA) comprising a federation of eight territories including Ivory Coast, Dahomey (today Benin), French Guinea, French Sudan (today Mali), Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso). Dahomey, a former African kingdom located in the south of present-day Benin, is incorporated into the FWA in 1894 following the conflict between France and Dahomey between 1892 and January 1894. The "colony of Dahomey" will subsequently become independent in 1960 as a republic of Dahomey, then, during the cold war, will be transformed into a communist state by taking the name of People's Republic of Benin in 1975, a country which collapsed during the fall of the Eastern Bloc to make way for the current Republic of Benin in 1990.



The 1917 Issue

On the whole of the territory of French West Africa, it is the notes issued by the Bank of Senegal which are in use until 1901, date corresponding to the creation of the Bank of West Africa which then begins to issue. its own banknotes and to gradually replace the Banque du Senegal. When World War I ended, the African colonies were weakened by severe monetary shortages. On February 11, 1917, a special decree was adopted authorizing the issuance of emergency notes or cash vouchers of 50-centime, 1-franc and 2-franc (1).

1F_dahomey_1917_verso.jpg


All cash vouchers (50-centime and 1-franc) bear the signatures of the Treasurer and Cashier, Paul Riboulet and the Lieutenant-Governor, Gaston Fourn.

signatures_dahomey_1917_fourn_riboulet.jpg


Characteristics

A) 50 centimes type 1917

50centimes_dahomey_1917.jpg
VariantDateWatermark (2)Particularity
Pick 1a11-2-1917Bees and letters C pattern.Text "Gorée - Imp. Gouvt gen." w/ a length of 23 mm. Numbering with large digits (4.5 mm).
Pick 1b11-2-1917Bees and letters C pattern.Text "Gorée - Imp. Gouvt gen." w/ a length of 26 mm. Numbering with small digits (3.5 mm).
Pick 1c11-2-1917laurels leaf pattern.Text "Gorée - Imp. Gouvt gen." w/ a length of 26 mm. Numbering with small digits (3.5 mm).
Pick 1r11-2-1917Bees and letters C pattern or laurels leaf pattern.Banknote with signatures, but w/o series and numbering. Two punch holes cancellation on the signatures.


B) 1 franc type 1917

1F_dahomey_1917.jpg
VariantDateWatermark (2)Particularity
Pick 2a11-2-1917Bees and letters C pattern.Text "Gorée - Imp. Gouvt gen." w/ a length of 23 mm. Numbering with large digits (4.5 mm).
Pick 2b11-2-1917Bees and letters C pattern.Text "Gorée - Imp. Gouvt gen." w/ a length of 26 mm. Numbering with small digits (3.5 mm).
Pick 2c11-2-1917laurels leaf pattern.Text "Gorée - Imp. Gouvt gen." w/ a length of 26 mm. Numbering with small digits (3.5 mm).
Pick 2r11-2-1917Bees and letters C pattern or laurels leaf pattern.Banknote with signatures, but w/o series and numbering. Two punch holes cancellation on the signatures.


The rating of these banknotes

The 50-centime and 1-franc banknotes of Dahomey are relatively rare, but are financially very accessible in low quality ... On the other hand, the prices observed for the superior qualities are sometimes confusing: for example for the 1-franc, a copy in AU grade was sold € 180.00 at cgb.fr (lot #b36_1266) and another note of the same denomination in AU- grade, was sold at € 1500.00, also at cgb.fr, during the last Live Auctions Banknotes in July 2021 (lot #4470075)! In comparison, the graded PCGS 66 PPQ copy of the prestigious Ruth W. Hill collection was sold for $ 3,819.00 in April 2014 by Heritage Auctions (lot # 21376).




Notes
(1) The 2-franc note will never be put into circulation for Dahomey!
(2) The watermark with the “bees” and the “letters C” were also used on the Army Treasury notes issued during the same period (1917-1919) and in quite similar formats ...


Our sources