The Coins & Banknotes of Palestine by Howard M. Berlin


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This book has been awarded the Numismatic Literary Guild's "Best Specialized Book on World Paper Money" for 2001

The Coins and Banknotes of Palestine Under the British Mandate, 1927-1947

Howard M. Berlin


This book is the culmination of a project that lasted over 14 years - I often just got sidetracked with other responsibilities and, on brief occasions, would find the trail back to my computer. Throughout the many years, this book was more a labor of love than anything else, having wanted to produce as close to a complete reference as was possible about the coins and banknotes issued as legal tender during the British Mandate of Palestine. However, until the last coin and banknote has been accounted for and some of the nagging questions that remain are really answered, there will be no definitive work, but only one that approaches one.

John Bartlett exclaimed when writing his well-known book of quotations that "I have gathered a posie of other men's flowers, and nothing but the thread that binds them is mine own." For this book I make no claim that this book is purely original nor is it a product of my research alone. There have been several books that have preceded this one, such as those by Trowbridge and Haffner. However in the 25 or so years since their publications, quite a bit has happened. Auction catalogs, numismatic periodicals such as World Coins/Coin World and Bank Note Reporter, and journals such as The Shekel (American Israel Numismatic Association), International Banknote Society Journal, Journal of Israel Numismatics, TAMS Journal (Tokens and Medals Society), and The Numismatist (American Numismatic Association) have published stories and facts contributed by many authors as they became known. Unfortunately, the dissemination of some of these sources of numismatic literature are not universally available and perhaps only the most aggressive researchers and collectors of Palestine material would be aware of all the latest developments. As both a writer and collector of Palestine Mandate material, I was simply trying to improve on those before me, compiling the knowledge of others in a single volume, and correcting misstatements and errors of fact whenever possible.

Chapter 1 briefly reviews the history of what was called Palestine, from the biblical era to the end of the Mandate in 1948. Chapter 2 covers the formation and operation of the Palestine Currency Board. Chapter 3 discusses the coins, which were minted in denominations from 1 to 100 mils and proof issues. Chapter 4 presents the mysterious Holyland Token and its three varieties. Chapter 5 covers details about the banknotes, ranging in denominations from 500 mils to £P100, including information about specimen and cancelled notes. Chapter 6 discusses the vignettes that appear on the banknotes from their religious and historical perspectives. The final chapter covers the counterfeiting of Palestine coins and banknotes. Besides these seven chapters, I have included three appendices. The first gives the full text of the League of Nations' Mandate for Palestine, the second summarizes the various catalog numbers that have been used in the numismatic literature, and the last is a checklist for collectors.

Unlike many other books and catalogs about coins or banknotes I have avoided two conventions. First, I have not chosen to complicate matters by not devising my own numbering system for this book. All of the coins and banknotes in this book are simply referred to by their denomination and date, e.g. a 1934 100-mil coin or a 1927 £P5 note. Second, as I am not a dealer, I have not given market prices for each coin and banknote. Market prices do fluctuate and can result in a book being "dated." Furthermore, some items are considered quite rare and are difficult to price as they so seldom come up for sale. Very often, such hard-to-find items are sold via private treaty and the prices are usually not disclosed. When a price is stated here however, it is done so purely for historical comparisons and the true value of anything is the price paid by a willing buyer to a willing seller.

In general, all photographs of coins and takens are reproduced at their actual size. For banknotes however, they are slightly smaller than full size. To my knowledge this is the first book or catalog that has presented illustrations of the Palestine Mandate coins and banknotes in full color and these are located together in a series of color plates. Legends and quotations in Hebrew and Arabic, when quoted, and verbatim English translations of religious texts are based on the following sources:

The Qur'an: The Meaning of the Glorious Quran by Abdullah Yusuf Ali. The Tanach (a Hebrew acronym representing collectively, the Torah, Prophets, and Writings): The 14-volume Soncino Books of the Bible and the Soncino Edition of the Pentateuch and Haftorahs. The New Testament: The King James Version.

In addition, for clarity, all quotations in Arabic from the Qur'an and those in Hebrew from the Tanach, are presented without their traditional cantilliation and/or diacritic vowel markings.

Howard M. Berlin Wilmington, Delaware

Fall 2000 30 Tishri, 5761 30 Rajab, 1421

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