Italian Somaliland

Banknotes issued between 1893 and 1951

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From the end of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century, the kingdom of Italy developed a colonial empire which reached its peak around 1940. Italy then had territories in the Mediterranean, the Balkans, Asia and Africa. With Mussolini's rise to power in the 1920s, colonialist expansion knew no bounds. The Duce of Fascism also maintains that it is a demographic and economic necessity for a country like Italy.

The colony of Italian Somaliland was established in the years 1889-1890. Since 1884, the Italian shipping company Vincenzo Filonardi & Company has been offering maritime links between Italy and the south of the Somali coast. Between 1893 and 1896, its leader, Vincenzo Filonardi, former Italian consul in Zanzibar, decided to set up the colony's first currency with a 5 rupee note. These “payable to bearer” notes are not intended to replace currencies but to facilitate local transactions and will then circulate throughout Italian Somaliland, including with the Indian rupee and the Austrian Maria Theresa thaler already present in the territory.

The official banknotes were introduced in 1920 by the Banca d'Italia and consist of 3 cash certificates (buono di cassa) of 1, 5 and 10 rupees. A 20 rupee note will be printed correctly but ultimately not issued.

In 1949, the Fund for the Monetary Circulation of Somalia (La Cassa per la circolazione monetaria della Somalia) was created in Rome. This new public institute of the Italian administration, headquartered in Mogadishu, is responsible for issues for Italian Somalia. Between 1950 and 1951, six notes of 1, 5, 10, 20 and 100 Somali were issued. With the independence of Somalia in 1960, the Cassa per la circolazione monetaria della Somalia was liquidated and then passed under the new Somali government to then become the Central Bank of Somalia.


Above: front of 10 Somali type 1950 (Pick: # 13). Dimensions: 158 x 98 mm.

Our sources

  • "Italian Somaliland", Wikipedia.
  • "Italian Somaliland" Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, 1368-1960, 12th edition (pages 759 to 760).
  • "Italian Somaliland" by Owen W. Linzmeyer.
  • Bank Note Museum: "Italian Somaliland".
  • Photos archive: Bank Note Museum, and Heritage Auctions.

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