Morocco, the 5,000 francs type 1937
History of a project of 500 francs which becomes a banknote of 5000 francs!
Articles by Sept. 9, 2019- on
You all know certainly the very nice banknote of 5,000 francs type 1937 (Ref. # K526 or Pick # 23). This one, which I personally name the "Tangier", was issued for the State Bank of Morocco between the years 1938 and 1951. Designed by A. Maillart, this note with imposing dimensions (205 x 117 mm) is the result of a joint collaboration between A. Maillart and Émile Deloche for the engraving of the front and A. Maillart and Eugène Gaspérini for the engraving of the back. Three artists for one note!
The vignette of the recto offers a general and aerial representation of the city of Tangier seen the narrow streets that go up stairs to the Kasbah. The illustration is executed in very soft shades of beige, almond and brown. In the distance, behind the heaps of small cubes of houses in the white city, one can still guess the immense dune field and the Charf hill. These two areas have now completely disappeared with the inexorable extension of concrete constructions.
Many photographs and postcards of the time attest that this panorama was very popular with painters and photographers; this is probably what inspired Maillart for the graphical composition of the front.
The back offers a view of a fortified Ksar overlooking a valley in which we distinguish a small town and the Atlas Mountains at the bottom. We appeal to our readers-collectors, because we have unfortunately not managed to identify this place! (see the note at the end of the article)
Three signatures are printed, those of Guessous (High Commissioner of the Cherifian Government), Spitzer (Director of the State Bank of Morocco) and Oudot (President of the Council of the State Bank of Morocco).
A banknote of 500 francs was originally planned!
In May 2017, during the Banknotes Live Auction, cgb.fr is proposing a 500 francs project (lot # 4130106) dated 1930 (?): two single-sided proofs of the front and back printed on a fiduciary paper with large margins. These proofs are non-watermarked and pasted on cardboard pages with windows. The front is dated 00-00-00, numbered 00000000 in the center and O.00 000 in the corners and bears the article of law on counterfeiting.
The proof of the back includes the first variant of signatures used on the 5000 francs Type 1937: Guessous, Desoubry and Moreau.
With hindsight in history, the decision to use the city of Tangier on a note for the State Bank of Morocco is very surprising. It should be noted that at this time, Tangier is an autonomous territory and the city is administered by nine different countries including France! The pearl of northern Morocco is much more than a coastal city ... It is an international city and free. This geopolitical situation, which lasted from 1923 to 1956, may have had an impact on the aborted fate of this project of "500 francs Tangier".
To date, the two magnificent proofs sold by cgb.fr are unique and unknown to reference works (Pick or Kolsky). So we decided to bring these precious documents into the Numizon catalog to complete the 65 existing references for Morocco ... and that you can discover from September 20, 2019!
Note: for readability reasons, the prints have been cropped.
On September 30, 2019, Mr. Yves Jérémie, President of the Auvergne Papier-Monnaie Chamalières Clubgraciously sent us photos that identified the building shown on the back of the note. This is the Ksar Ait Benheddou, located in the province of Ouarzazate in southern Morocco, specifically in the valley of Ounila which was a traditional crossing point for caravans linking Marrakech south of the Sahara. This exceptional architectural ensemble is classified as World Heritage by Unesco.