A Zanzibar 1 Rupee Specimen Note Featured in NYINC World Paper Money Auction 

Stack’s Bowers Galleries proudly presents a Zanzibar 1 Rupee Specimen note dated 1920 in the January 2024 NYINC Auction. Graded PMG 64 Choice Uncirculated, it is the finest graded example of any Zanzibar 1 Rupee in either specimen or issued form. It is sure to attract strong interest in the notaphilic world when it crosses the auction block as lot 60505 on Saturday, January 13 in New York City. 

The Zanzibari Rupee, valued on par with the Indian Rupee, circulated from 1908 to December 31, 1935. It replaced the Zanzibari Riyal, which circulated from 1882 to 1908, at the rate of 2-1/8 Rupee to one Riyal. The Zanzibari Rupee was in turn replaced by the East African Shilling at the rate of 1.5 Shillings to 1 Rupee. 

Banknotes in denominations of 5, 10, 20, and 100 Rupees were issued in 1908, followed by the 50 and 500 Rupees notes in 1916 and finally the 1 Rupee in 1920. The notes were virtually all redeemed in 1936 and all are extremely rare with only a few issued notes in the lower denominations extant. 

Stack’s Bowers Galleries has a rich history with Zanzibar notes. We sold the finest known issued 5 Rupees graded VF-35 in the 2017 NYINC auction for a staggering $129,500. We also famously brokered a specimen set for a fantastic sum in the same year. It should be noted that the 2017 set did not include the 1 Rupee as it came from a Waterlow and Sons source, while the 1 Rupee was printed by Thomas De La Rue. 

Zanzibar has always fascinated me, from an early age when I was an avid reader of One Thousand and One Nights, to when I was a young adult and took an interest in vintage paper money. To me, these Zanzibar notes are as ethereal and mythical as the famous story, due to their rarity and enormous value! 

I hope readers and bidders are as thrilled and excited as I am about this wonderful and iconic item. If you have any questions related to Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ NYINC World Paper Money Auction, contact Aris Maragoudakis at

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