In this period of second "autumn confinement" for this sad year 2020, we invite you to travel to the other side of the planet ... to the islands of Samoa located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean (roughly between Hawaii and New -Zealand). Populated for 3000 years, these islands first fell under the domination of neighboring Tonga then quickly became the lust of Europeans and at the end of the 19th century, the archipelago was divided into two parts: German Samoa (or Western Samoa) and Eastern Samoa administered by the United States and which still forms American Samoa to this day.

In 1914, New Zealand took control of the German part, comprising the two large islands of Savai'i and Upolu where the capital Apia is located. The first official banknotes were issued in 1920 with two New Zealand denominations overprinted "Government of Samoa", the 10 shillings Type 1920 and the 1 pound Type 1920.

Between 1920 and 1961, two issues were put into circulation. The first issue is denominated in the name of "Territory of Western Samoa" with three denominations of 10 shillings, 1 pound and 5 pounds. These last two banknotes are also issued with and without "STERLING" under the value in letters in the center of the front!

1Pound_territory_of_western_samoa.jpg

Front of the 1 pound Type 1948-1961. Dimensions: 175 x 110 mm.



The second issue is denominated in the name of the “Bank of Western Samoa” and includes the three previous notes, but these no longer bear the mention “STERLING” and are overprinted in red “BANK OF WESTERN SAMOA".

Following a referendum, Western Samoa obtained their independence on January 1, 1962. Between 1963 and 1967, the "Bank of Western Samoa" or Fale Tupe o Samoa i Sisifo issued its first true Samoan banknotes still denominated in New Zealand pound, then finally in tālā, the new official currency of Samoa with the 1967 Issues.

10tala_bank_of_western_samoa.jpg

Back of the 10 tālā Type 1967. Dimensions: 150 x 76 mm.



Between 1980 and 1984, five notes of 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20 tālā were issued by the “Monetary Board of Western Samoa”, an institute created in 1975. In 1985, the Central Bank of Samoa (Faletupe Tutotonu o Samoa) succeeds the Monetary Council and becomes the new official institute of Western Samoa.

Finally on July 4, 1997, for the sake of obvious rapprochement with American Samoa, Western Samoa definitively changed their name to take the (shorter) one of Samoa!

Thus and unlike other catalogs, we have therefore decided to combine all the banknotes from the period of Western Samoa and Samoa into a single catalog of 42 banknotes extending from 1920 to 2019 ... a century of banknotes to discover!


20tala_type_2008.jpg

Back of 20 tālā Type 2008 with a Didunculus strigirostris (or Manumea) and a Teuila flower, two national emblems of Samoa. Banknote dimensions: 139 x 71 mm.




Our sources

  • « The Banknote Book: Western Samoa » by Owen W. Linzmeyer.
  • « The Banknote Book: Samoa » by Owen W. Linzmeyer.
  • « Western Samoa » Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, 1368-1960, 12th edition (pages 1213 to 1214).
  • « Western Samoa » Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, 1961-present, 17th edition (pages 1071 to 1073).
  • « Samoa » Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, 1961-present, 17th edition (pages 838 to 839).
  • « Samoa », Wikipedia.
  • Photos from cgb.fr sales archives.
  • Photos from Heritage Auctions sales archives.
  • Photos from ebay sales archives.