Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2016 Issue

Rare Italian Banknote from WWII Occupation of Egypt Coming to Auction

The banknote in question being sold at Winner's Auctions and Exhibits

Winner’s Auctions and Exhibits, the Jerusalem-based auction house I first wrote about in July’s Rare Book Monthly, is hosting another sale this month, Auction No. 095. With the house’s focus on Judaica, the auction visits topics such as holy books, letters from Rabbis and Rebbes, Maps, and Zionism. Auction No. 095 will take place on September 7th and includes 535 lots, all viewable online now on Winner’s website. And while the sale contains many noteworthy items (if you are a collector of Judaica, then the catalog is a must-read), this article’s focus is on a single, particularly rare item, hailing from the not-so-distant past.

In 1940, Italy, as an ally of Nazi Germany, invaded Egypt with the goal of seizing the Suez Canal. Prior to the invasion, the Foreign Ministers of Italy and Germany had divided the areas they planned to capture. Italy, with its designated territories of Egypt and North Africa, issued a series of eight special banknotes which were intended to replace the local currency. Five hundred million notes were issued, and on July 16, 1942, they were flown to Libya. In 1943, British forces under Montgomery Marshal defeated Axis forces in North Africa, and the plan to distribute the Italian banknotes was aborted. The military was then tasked with destroying the notes.

Over the years, there were whispers and rumors of a handful of banknotes that survived the torching by the Italian army. In 1967, a collector purchased five; they are currently found in the collection of Italia d’Banca. In the 1980s, three additional notes were stolen from an Italian collector and have since disappeared. In 1980, a complete set of eight “specimen” banknotes from the series was sold at auction in London for 90,000€. The sale in 1980 was the last time any of these banknotes has come up for sale.

Lot 169 of Winner’s Auction No. 095 is a 5 Lire banknote from the Italian occupation of Egypt, printed in 1942 and one of four known copies in the world. This particular copy came into the hands of a distinguished Jew from the Tripoli community, who personally received it from his chauffeur, a soldier in the Italian Army during World War II who saved it from destruction. The banknote is estimated $12,000-15,000.

Auction No. 095 takes place September 7, 2016, in Jersulaem. Bidding via absentee bid, telephone, and online is available, as well as live. The entire catalog is available here. Registration is required for first time bidders and can be done so by following this link.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Il Ponte, Feb. 27-28: KUPKA, Frantisek (1871-1957) - Quatre histoires de blanc et noir. Paris: Marcel Baque, 1926. €5.000-€8.000
    Il Ponte, Feb. 27-28: VASI, Giuseppe Agostino (1710-1782) - Raccolta delle più belle vedute antiche, e moderne di Roma disegnate ed incise secondo lo stato presente. Rome: A. Vasi, 1786. €4.000-€6.000
    Il Ponte, Feb. 27-28: SALAMANCA, Antonio (1478-1562) - [First map depicting the bay of Naples]. [Rome: 1538]. €3.000-€5.000
  • Bonhams, Ending Feb. 21: A JAMES MADISON THANKSGIVING PROCLAMATION. $12,000 - $18,000
    Bonhams, Ending Feb. 21: A JAMES MONROE PRESIDENTIAL SERVICE SOUP BOWL. $6,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, Ending Feb. 21: A FRANKLIN PIERCE BRUSHED SILK TOP HAT. $10,000 - $15,000
    Bonhams, Ending Feb. 21: LINCOLN ENDORSEMENT: "I AM ALWAYS FOR THE MAN WHO WISHES TO WORK." $15,000 - $20,000
    Bonhams, Ending Feb. 21: A RUTHERFORD B. HAYES CIVIL WAR-ERA TRAVEL DESK. $4,000 - $6,000
    Bonhams, Ending Feb. 21: FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT'S FINAL PRESIDENTIAL AUTOMOBILE FLAG. $20,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, Ending Feb. 21: GARFIELD LS AS PRESIDENT ALLUDING TO THE "STAR-ROUTE" SCANDAL: "REGRETTING THE EMBARRASSMENTS WHICH THE EVENT HAS CAUSED US BOTH." $25,000 - $35,000
    Bonhams, Ending Feb. 21: AN 18K GOLD AND ENAMEL WILLIAM MCKINLEY INAGURATION POCKETWATCH. $15,000 - $20,000
    Bonhams, Ending Feb. 21: A JOHN F. KENNEDY PRESIDENTIAL MOTORCADE FLAG. $80,000 - $120,000
    Bonhams, Ending Feb. 21: PRESIDENT KENNEDY'S LAST DAY: OFFICIAL SCHEDULE ANNOTATED BY SPECIAL ASSISTANT DAVE POWERS WITH A MINUTE-BY-MINUTE DETAIL OF THE DAY'S ACTIONS. $40,000 - $60,000
  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD

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