New Caledonia

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Historical context

New Caledonia was discovered in 1774 during the expedition led by the English explorer James Cook. This territory reminds him of the Caledonia province of his native Scotland and the navigator then baptizes the island with this name. The Pérousse expedition of 1788 allows you to discover the west coast of Grande Terre. But it was from 1827 that the island was definitely located on a map by French explorer Jules Dumont d'Urville. At that time, the France of Napoleon III was looking for new virgin lands to found a penal colony there and to strengthen its presence, still weak, in the Pacific against the Dutch and the British.

In 1853, Cook Island (or Caledonia) officially became a French territory and its name was francized in New Caledonia. Colonization is in working order and the first settlers land in Noumea in 1843. In 1860, the colony is separated from the French settlements in Oceania (Tahiti) to be administered civilly from 1884. The successive waves of settlers and condemned to prison lead to the rapid and lasting installation of European populations. This establishment and the invasive development of the indigénat by the colonial power is not without causing many problems with the population of Kanak origin and causes frequent revolts ...

The contemporary period

In 1940, New Caledonia joined Free France in September and thus served as a geographic fulcrum for the American army during the conflict between it and the Japanese in the Pacific. After the war, the territory experienced rapid and significant economic growth thanks to the exploitation of nickel deposits discovered in the 19th century.

The beginning of the 1980s was marked by the appearance of strong tensions between opponents and supporters of the independence of New Caledonia. Regular clashes provoked a generalized insurrection between 1984 and 1988. These tensions reached their climax on May 4, 1989 with the assassination of the Kanak independence leader Jean-Marie Tjibaou. The two camps then engage in negotiations which lead to the signing of the Matignon agreements on June 26, 1988 providing for the establishment of a ten-year transitional status, leading to a self-determination referendum so that the Caledonians speak out for or against independence. This agreement is supplemented by the Nouméa agreement of May 5, 1998 authorizing the organization of up to three votes ... During the first self-determination referendum held on November 4, 2018, voters voted "no" to independence at 56% of the votes cast, just like the second referendum on October 4, 2020, also giving a majority of the "no" to independence at 53% of the votes cast ... to be continued!

Banknotes Issues

1] The precursors

The first banknote for New Caledonia probably appeared in 1850 with the 1 pound from Isle of Pines. This unissued note exists only in rare uniface copies of the front. It was not until 1874 and the creation of the Bank of New Caledonia to see the first “payables à vue et au porteur (payable at sight to bearer)” notes intended for the local economy with the very rare denominations of 5, 20, 100 and 500 francs Type 1874. But the bank, with a capital of 4 million French francs, suddenly stopped making payments in October 1877 and was declared bankrupt in November 1887. The banknotes did not really have time to circulate and some would even remain in draft form. Between 1874 and 1875, the New Caledonia Company put into circulation four identical banknotes: a 5 francs bistre, a 20 francs green, a 100 francs blue and a 500 francs (the color of which is unknown to us because the banknote was not found). These notes will be issued for the first time under the heading “Branch of Nouméa” and a second time under the heading “Establishment of Nouméa”.


100 francs Type 1875. Dimensions : 150 x 102 mm. References : Pick : #8, TBB : #B202 or Kolsky/Musynski : #KM472.

2] BIC banknotes

The Banque of Indo-China (BIC) is a former French private bank founded on January 21, 1875 in Paris by the Comptoir d'Escompte of Paris and the Industrial and Commercial Credit (CIC) and replaced in 1974 by the Banque of Indosuez. The Bank of Indo-China (or Indochina) receives from the State the privilege of minting money. Initially intended to be the bank of issue of Cochinchina (Saigon branch opened on April 26, 1875) and counters of India (Pondicherry branch opened on January 8, 1877), its privilege widened over time on all the French colonies in Asia, Africa and the Pacific. Established in territories which were sorely lacking in funds, it was she who ensured most of the development of regions as diverse as Indochina, New Caledonia or Djibouti. The Banque of Indo-China will issue in French Polynesia and New Caledonia from 1888 to 1963. Regarding the first issues, all banknotes issued particularly between 1888 and 1925, some of which were designed and engraved by renowned artists, are classified among the most rare and most beautiful achievements in the history of paper money from the French colonies.

Below is the full list of Bank of Indo-China issues relating to New Caledonia:


100 francs Type 1888. Dimensions : 204 x 119 mm. References : Pick : #12, TBB : #B302 ou Kolsky/Musynski : #KM406).

Our sources

Note: The banknotes are denominated with the words “Bank of Indo-China” from 1888 to 1927 and “Bank of Indochina” from 1928!

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