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A set of six specimen World War II Burmese banknotes sell for £64,000 at auction

10th May 2018.

A set of six specimen banknotes from Burma have smashed the house record for a Coins & Banknotes sale at Tennants Auctioneers in North Yorkshire, selling for a hammer price of £64,000. Interest was expected in the notes, but after extremely competitive bidding from around the world the lot was finally sold to a bidder in the room, who had flown in from the United States for the sale.

The set of notes is very rare indeed, especially as they are all in mint condition. The notes were issued during the war in 1943 and 1945 when the country was under military administration; all the notes are stamped ‘SPECIMEN’, and four of the notes were re-issued Reserve Bank of India notes used by the Military Administration as emergency war-time currency with the specimen serial numbers ‘000 000000’.

The notes were collected in Burma during the war by a British engineer and kept in pristine condition in an album. The notes were amongst his possessions inherited by a family member, who had little idea of their value when they were consigned to Tennants.

Catalogue description for lot 273:
• Burma, a Set of 6 x Specimen Banknotes comprising 2 x provisional issue notes (1943) 4 annas & 8 annas (1943) MILITARY ADMINISTRATION OF BURMA, both stamped ‘SPECIMEN’ in black and 4 x notes with overprint: ‘MILITARY ADMINISTRATION OF BURMA: LEGAL TENDER IN BURMA ONLY’ on Reserve Bank of India Notes & comprising: 1 rupee (1945) on ‘Government of India’ note, red overprint; 5 rupees (1945) dark blue overprint, 10 rupees (1945) red overprint & 100 rupees (1945) red overprint (5, 10, & 100 rupees signed J B Taylor); all stamped ‘SPECIMEN’ in red, all 000 000000 & all in mint state, a very rare set

Elsewhere in the sale, early English coins sold strongly, with a Edward III Gold Noble from 1361-69 selling for £2,200 (plus buyer’s premium), a James I Gold Unite from 1604-19 selling for £2,000 (plus buyer’s premium), and an Elizabeth I Halfcrown from 1601-2 selling for £1,800 (plus buyer’s premium).

The sale resulted in a total hammer price of £165,280, with 100% of the 276 lots selling.

Tennants are currently accepting lots for the next sale of Coins, Banknotes & Tokens on 8th August 2018, please contact the salerooms on 01969 623780 or for details.

Illustrated: Three of a set of six Specimen Banknotes issued in Burma in the 1940s – Sold for £64,000 plus 24% premium inc. VAT.

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