Back in the 1980’s, I bought a pair of nice 1940's Egyptian Ten Pound notes from Dr. Ali Mehilba, and a post on this forum a while back reminded me of his catalog of world replacement banknotes. I bought a copy through alinotes.com, just received it, and confirmed to the forum poster that East Africa Currency Board was not listed, having not issued replacement banknotes.
Now I’m spending an evening running through my collection spreadsheet, looking for ‘Z’ serial numbers, which goes pretty quickly using Excel formats. But I can tell you Dr. Ali’s catalog is a great reference for any note collector, especially if you take any time to check serial numbers when buying banknotes. I can also tell you it’s just not as easy as searching for ‘Zeds’.
If you think all you need to look for is a ‘Z’ prefix in your serial numbers, think again. East Africa, as mentioned above, prefixed it’s notes with A through Z. If you have a ‘Z’ prefix, it’s just an ordinary note, albeit one of the last to be issued, but not a replacement. Argentina and Chile both prefix their replacement notes with ‘R’, other countries with ‘OO’, ‘90’, ‘0J’, ‘0K’and a host of other non-Zed systems, so without this catalog you could be completely oblivious to a gold mine resting in your albums. Some countries merely added to their existing numbering systems, so a note from Great Britain with serial number exceeding 100,001, say, could very well be a replacement, but, you have to know the correct Series. Did I mention that some countries use a prefix and a suffix? A ‘Z’ prefix without a ‘Y’ suffix on a note from the Dominican Republic is not a replacement, but a ‘ZY’ prefix on a Hong Kong note certainly is. For Canada, beginning in 1954, serial numbers starting with ‘310’ or ‘516’, say, denote replacements.
Most modern replacement notes are moderately priced, but a note you bought for a dollar can be worth 30 to 100 bucks if you bought the right note. And, if you happen to have a replacement note from Australia’s Pound/Shilling era, you may be driving a new car next year.
t’s a pretty educational reference, more than just a compendium of replacements. To start with, I learned that replacement notes are printed right along with the printing of ordinary notes. The printing process is fraught with errors, mechanical and personal, so the replacement notes are intended to immediately make up for ‘losses’ during the regular print run. This completely ruins my mental picture of a little guy named Bartleby with a green eyeshade, sitting at a desk filling out a form, one by one, for each damaged note turned in for replacement, but I’ll bet I wasn’t the only collector with that quaint Victorian idea. As is turns out, that was exactly the system used here in the US until around 1910, but Bartleby was pensioned off about a century ago, as modern replacements came into common use then in the US, and worldwide by the 1960’s and later.
The catalog itself is softbound, over 500 pages, and contains hundreds of color illustrations of replacement notes, as well as example signature specimens. The signature examples alone are worth the price of the catalog, given the many absences of these in the Krause catalogs.
Also very useful, is the identification of the replacement notes for the Islamic world, many are using Arabic script and this catalog will show you where you are with that.
Each known replacement note is identified by Krause/Pick number, a new Mehilba MWR number, and priced in VF and UNC grades. They are grouped by denomination, which aids in your search. You will need the Krause/Pick catalog of Modern Issues, 1961-date, as well, to effectively cross-reference, but the MWR catalog is designed as a stand-alone reference.
As an addendum, there is a listing of countries which did not issue replacement notes. It’s a long list, and includes most of the British and French colonial possessions. The British Dominions, however, such as Canada and Australia, have extensive listings.
Dr. Ali’s catalog will run you $70 US, postpaid, from alinotes.com, but this is not too dear for a specialized catalog running over 500 pages. It’s nicely softbound, will not fall apart, and is sized just right for taking to a shop or show.
If you have been looking for another source of banknotes other than Ebay, the final dozen pages of the catalog consists of full-color advertisements from reputable firms dealing in notes for collectors.
And, who knows, you may find your 5 Pound note from Australia is a replacement, and you’ll need to sell it to one of these guys to get that new car.
Now if you’ll pardon me, I need to put on my green eyeshade, channel my inner Bartleby, and continue my hunt for replacement notes in the collection. Wish me luck.