Iranian Azerbaijan's banknotes

Discover an ephemeral issue ... and little known

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Preamble: a few days ago, when one of our customers came to drop us off a copy of 50 tomans type 1946 for the next "Numizon Sale # 6" (1), we must admit that it was impossible for us to give, if only the value (2) or the origin! It therefore took us several minutes of research to identify this mysterious copy as part of the 6 banknotes issued in 1946 by the ephemeral State of Iranian Azerbaijan. In order to benefit the global community of collectors, we have therefore decided to shed light on these historic banknotes by incorporating them into the Numizon catalog and by offering this new article, which may allow you to learn a little more about our fabulous collection area ...

Historical context

The People's Government of Azerbaijan (PGA) is an ephemeral state that existed between November 1945 and November 1946! A revolt, supported by the Soviet Union, breaks out in northwestern Iran and establishes an autonomous government in the region of Iranian Azerbaijan. The designated capital is Tabriz. The origin and the end of this popular government fall within the framework of an Iranian-Soviet crisis, the first of the cold war.

During World War II and the Anglo-Soviet occupation of Iran, Stalin's USSR occupied northern Iran and wanted to "spread socialism" by creating separatist states in neighboring countries. The People's Government of Azerbaijan was announced in November 1945 by Jafar Pishevari, the leader of the Azerbaijani Democratic Party. The first and only Prime Minister of this republic is Ahmad Kordari.

But under pressure from the West, the USSR ended up withdrawing its support for the new state and the Iranian army took the opportunity to regain control of this northern part of the country in November 1946. Most of the leaders then found refuge in Azerbaijan neighbor. Jafar Pishevari, whom Stalin ultimately never trusted, died soon after in mysterious circumstances. As for ex-Prime Minister Kordari, he was imprisoned for many years by the Shah of Iran and then released (3).

The 1946 Issue

The content of this issue therefore consists of 6 banknotes of 5 kran, 1, 2, 5, 10 and 50 toman type 1946. The printer responsible for the production as well as the quantities issued are not known. At first glance, nothing really makes it possible to distinguish the values from one another: their front is made up of arabesques and rosettes, where only the colors attributed to each note and the denominations in Persian in the corners allow them to be distinguish more subtly (see infographic below).


From left to right: ٥5 kran, ١1 toman, ٢2 toman, ٥5 toman, ١٠10 toman et ٥٠50 toman type 1946

All the banknotes issued (except the 5 kran type 1946) also have a perforation in the center corresponding to the value of the note, as well as a purple circular stamp on the left, but which we have not been able to decipher. The notes are undated and have only one combination of signatures with the Minister of Finance, Gholamreza Elhami (left) and the Treasurer, Reza Razouli (right).


The back, completely blank, is composed only of a text of law in Persian language, indicating to the users the modalities of circulation of the vouchers of coins and the penalty incurred for possible counterfeiting attempts: “1. The Azerbaijan National Government guarantees this bond. 2. In exchange for this bond, goods can be obtained in all stores in Azerbaijan. 3. Those who try to counterfeit the bonds will be brought to court and sentenced to death by the court”.


Above: text of the law in 3 parts printed on the back of the 50 toman type 1946.

The 50 toman type 1946

It is the largest issued value of the issue. This note is quite interesting to study, as it comes in four variants and significantly different rarities:

Ref. Pick / TBBRarityVariants
#S106a / B106a1 copy known: N°120351Handwritten signature w/ purple handstamp and perforation denomination in the center.
#S106b / B106b1 copy known: N°511111Printed signature w/purple handstamp and denomination perforation at center.
#S106c / B106c1 copy known: N°469714Printed signature and black s/n at right.
#S106r / B106r40 graded copiesRemainder: w/o purple handstamp, denomination perforation and black s/n at right.

Numizon analysis

While developing the catalog of these Iranian Azerbaijan's banknotes, we noted real difficulties in finding the 50 toman in banknote issued (2 copies in inventory for the moment). Regarding variant # S106r, 40 copies are graded in the PMG population Report and the banknotes are almost all in very good condition (30 banknotes between PMG 62 and PMG 66 EPQ). This is by far the banknote that we find most often in sales.

Although the PMG Population Report only lists 56 graduated copies for the whole of this issue, care must be taken regarding the possible scarcity of all these notes: technically poor graphics, low supply and relative confidentiality are without doubts factors to take into account in a future purchase.

However, our research has shown us that the # S106a, # S106b and # S106c variants were nevertheless very difficult to collect, despite recent selling prices within the reach of all budgets:

  • # S106a: a copy numbered 120351 offered by Heritage auctions in May 2017 in a set sold at $ 141.00 (lot # 83557).
  • # S106b: a copy from the prestigious Ruth W. Hill collection, numbered 511111 offered by Heritage auctions in April 2014 in a set sold at $ 282.00 (lot # 22691).
  • # S106c: one copy numbered 469714 sold by Heritage auctions in April 2014 for $ 168.00 (lot #88121).

The future of the collection will tell us if these ephemeral banknotes will remain so ... or not!


(1) The “Numizon Sale # 6” is a unique partnership with the Musée des Collections of Saint-Suliac. This June sale is currently being finalized. We will communicate soon on the exact start auction date!
(2) The small hearts “spotted” in the corners of the banknote being in fact the number “٥٠” in Persian to designate the value of 50 toman.
(3) Source: “People's Government of Azerbaijan” by Wikipedia.

Our sources

  • "Azerbaijan Autonomous Republic" par Owen W. Linzmeyer.
  • Bank Note Museum: "Iranian Azerbaijan".
  • Photos archives:, Christoph Gärtner, Heritage Auctions.

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