The Bank Notes of the Iraq Currency Board


Peter Symes

Murray Hanewich

Layth Al-Muderis



First published in the

International Bank Note Society Journal

Volume 40, No.3, 2001


Prior to World War I, Turkish (Ottoman) currency had been used throughout Mesopotamia, although other currencies had been in use, including the Indian rupee in Basra and Persian coins in the middle Tigris towns and Kurdistan. Once the War had commenced, Ottoman paper money began to circulate at a discount against gold, both in Mesopotamia and elsewhere. When the Indian expeditionary forces, under the control of the British, occupied the area from the beginning of 1915, they introduced the Indian rupee as the medium of payment and exchange, although the merchant community generally sustained a preference for the Ottoman gold lira. However, the expeditionary force’s Proclamation No.1 of 22 December 1916 forbade the use of Ottoman paper money in Mesopotamia and by 1918 the Indian rupee had become the universal currency of Iraq. The rupee continued to hold this status when Iraq became a mandated territory of the British after the Great War. From a strictly commercial point of view, the Indian rupee was a reasonable currency to use and it became well accepted by the mercantile community in Iraq. The states of the Arabian (Persian) Gulf, close neighbours of Iraq, were using Indian rupees as a standard currency and the rupee was, of course, used throughout the sub-continent.

            Despite the general acceptance of the Indian rupee, there was a nationalist desire for Iraq to have its own currency. A similar desire was held by the Government of Iraq, as the cost of maintaining the rupee in circulation fell on the Iraqi Treasury, which had no share in the profits derived from the rupees issued by the Government of India. During the 1920s there were several proposals to introduce Iraqi currency, all of which failed. The first proposal to be rebuffed was that of the Iraqi Minister of Justice in 1922, in which he addressed problems of using the Indian rupee. The principal problem was that the rupee was a silver coin and at that time there was great fluctuation in the price of silver, which complicated external trade. In 1924 the new Iraqi Constitution referred to an Iraqi currency issue, as well as stipulating the structure of the authority to administer the currency, but no Iraqi currency was forthcoming. Citing the disturbance suffered by the monetary systems of the world following the First World War, the British continued to reject the introduction of an Iraqi currency.

            In 1926, following a mission by Sir E. Hilton Young to Iraq in 1925, the British finally proposed a Currency Board based in London as an authority that could issue a distinctly Iraqi currency. However, this proposal was roundly rejected by the Iraqi authorities because it would not be based in Iraq. In the following year, 1927, Iraq resolved to establish a National Bank, but debate over the basis on which the currency would be issued caused the idea to founder.

            By 1930 the political climate had changed, with the end of the British mandate of Iraq seen to be imminent. In that year the government of Iraq invited Britain to reopen discussions of an Iraqi currency based on the 1926 proposal. The proposal to create the Iraq Currency Board was recommended by the Minister of Finance and approved by the Iraqi Cabinet on 17 March 1930. A draft scheme for the issue and control of the proposed currency was presented to Sir E. Hilton Young, who made a second visit to Iraq in 1930, and he amended the draft before it was presented to the Iraqi Parliament in October 1930. Towards the end of March 1931 the Bill was passed with a few minor modifications. Subsequently, on 19 April 1931, the Iraqi government passed Law No. 44, which provided for the issuance of Iraqi currency.

            Under the new Law, the currency unit was declared to be the Iraqi Dinar (I.D.), which was sub-divided into 1000 Fils. The Iraqi Dinar was to be linked to the gold standard and administered by an independent authority based in London. The new authority, the Iraq Currency Board, was to be represented in Iraq by a ‘Currency Officer’. The new currency that was to be introduced under Law No. 44 was originally due to be released by 1 January 1932. However, under one of many amendments to the original law, the final date for release became 1 April 1932. During the period leading up to the introduction of the currency, the gold standard was dropped by Britain (in September 1931) and Iraq was advised to also drop the standard. Law No. 44 was subsequently amended, by Law No. 101 of 1931 (passed on 12 December 1931), to link the Iraqi Dinar to the pound sterling.

            Under article 10 of Law No. 44 of 1931, the bank notes to be issued by the Currency Board were to be in the denominations of ¼, ½, 1, 5, 10 and 100 dinars. These notes were to be issued by the Currency Board, for the Government of Iraq, until a National Bank could be established to issue currency.


The Iraq Currency Board

The Iraq Currency Board was located in London and consisted of five members—two were appointed by the Government of Iraq, two were nominated by banks operating in Iraq, and one was to be selected by the League of Nations or the Bank of England. Of the first Board, only one member was an Iraqi, and he had no experience in economics. The first Board was appointed on 11 June 1931and consisted of:

                        Sir Edward Hilton Young (Chairman)

                        Ja’far Pasha al Askari

                        Sir Bertram Hornsby

                        Viscount Goschen

                        Mr. J. S. Haskell

Sir E. Hilton Young and Ja’far Pasha al Askari were appointed by the Government of Iraq, Sir Bertram Hornsby (a former Governor of the National Bank of Egypt from around 1921 to 1930) was appointed by the Bank of England, while Viscount Goschen and Mr. J. S. Haskell represented banks operating in Iraq. There were three banks active in Iraq that had British interests—the Ottoman Bank, the Eastern Bank and the Imperial Bank of Persia (later the Imperial Bank of Iran). Viscount Goschen represented the Ottoman Bank and Mr. J. S. Haskell represented the Eastern Bank. Under an arrangement made between the three banks, and authorized by Law No. 44 of 1931, during July of most years one of the Board members who represented a bank retired from the board and another took his place. This cycle began on 8 July 1933 when Mr. J. S. Haskell was replaced by Mr. V. A. Caesar Hawkins, who represented the Imperial Bank of Persia. In later years Mr. James McMurray represented the Imperial Bank of Iran and Sir James Leigh-Wood and Sir Evan Meredith Jenkins represented the Eastern Bank.

            The first secretary of the Currency Board was Mr. J. H. Brown, but he had been replaced by Sir Howard Denning by 1934. Sir Howard died in April 1943 and was succeeded by Mr. C. G. Freke, who maintained the position for the remainder of the Board’s life. The first Currency Officer, located in Baghdad, was Mr. L. M. Swan. Mr. Swan served as Currency Officer for ten years, after which he was succeeded by Mr. C. N. Towner (around 1941 or 1942), who was in turn succeeded by Mr. C. E. Loombe (c. 1943). In May 1932, Sir Basil Blackett replaced Sir Bertram Hornsby, but following Sir Basil’s death in August 1935, Mr. E. J. Bunbury became the Bank of England’s appointee.

            In January 1932 Sir Edward Hilton Young resigned from the Board after accepting the position of Minister for Health in the British Government. He was succeeded by Mr. Leopold Stennett Amery MP, who served as Chairman for seven years until late 1939 or early 1940 when he retired from the Board following his appointment as Secretary of State for India. Mr. Amery was succeeded by his predecessor. However, on 15 July 1935 Sir Edward Hilton Young had been created Lord Kennet of the Dene and it was in the guise of Lord Kennet that he returned to the Currency Board as Chairman. (Lord Kennet also served as a director of the Imperial Bank of Iran for a number of years and as a director of the British Bank of the Middle East.)

            Of the two men appointed to the Currency Board by the Government of Iraq, one was the Chairman and one was always an Iraqi. The Iraqi appointee was always a member of the Diplomatic Mission of Iraq to Britain. The first Iraqi appointee was Ja’far Pasha al Askari (Iraqi Envoy and Minister). However, he was recalled to Iraq to become the Minister of Defence and was temporarily represented by Hussein Beg Afnan (Iraqi Chargé d’Affaires) and Atta Beg Amin (Iraqi First Secretary). Atta Beg Amin (as First Secretary and Chargé d’Affaires) subsequently became the representative on the board and was succeeded in turn by Ali Jawdat al Ayubi (Iraqi Envoy and Minister), Raouf al Chadirji (Iraqi Envoy and Minister), Abdul Rahman al Falahi (First Secretary and Chargé d’Affaires), Atta Beg Amin (for the second time, as First Secretary and Chargé d’Affaires), Dauod al Haidari (Iraqi Envoy and Minister), Colonel Shakir Al Wadi (Chargé d’Affaires), Saifallah Khandan (Counsellor) and Abdul Malik Khudhairi (Counsellor). The signatures of most of these gentlemen appeared on the bank notes issued by the Currency Board.


Signature combinations

There are eleven signature combinations used on the bank notes issued for the Government of Iraq by the Iraq Currency Board. In all but one combination the signatures belong to members of the Iraq Currency Board. The exception is signature pair 8, which was used on the notes printed in India (see below). The dates preceding the signatories in the following chart indicate when the signatories in each combination were both members of the Currency Board. The exceptions are the first two combinations, where the dates that appear on the notes are indicated. The signatories are:

  1. (Dated) 1 July 1931 – Sir Edward Hilton Young, Ja’far Pasha al Askari & Sir Bertram Hornsby

  2. (Dated) 1 August 1932 – Mr. Leopold Stennett Amery, Hussein Beg Afnan & Viscount Goschen

  3. 1933 to Sep. 1935 – Mr. Leopold Stennett Amery & Ja’far Pasha al Askari

  4. Sep. 1935 to Jan. 1937 – Mr. Leopold Stennett Amery & Ali Jawadat al Ayubi

  5. Jan. 1937 to Jan. 1940 – Mr. Leopold Stennett Amery & Raouf al Chadirji

  6. Jul. 1940 to 1940 Footnote – Mr. Leopold Stennett Amery & Atta Amin

  7. 1940 to Oct. 1943 – Lord Kennet & Atta Amin

  8. 1941 to 1942 Footnote – Mr. L. M. Swan & Ibrahim Kamal

  9. Oct. 1943 to Nov. 1945 – Lord Kennet & Daoud al Haidari

  10. 10 Nov. 1945 to May 1947 – Lord Kennet & Shakir al Wadi Footnote

  11. 11 Nov. 1947 to Jun. 1949 – Lord Kennet & Abdul Malik Khudhairy


The First Issue

The date on which the first bank notes issued by the Iraq Currency Board were placed into circulation is uncertain. According to Iraqi Currency – Development stages – 1997 (published by the Central Bank of Iraq), the first bank notes were released into circulation on 16 March 1932 under Royal Decree No. 59 of 16 March 1932 (by authority of Law No. 44 of 1931), two weeks before the deadline of 1 April. (The deadline had been stipulated in an amendment to Law No.44 of 1931.) However, the first Report of the Iraq Currency Board states that a Royal Iradah (Law) issued on 1 March 1932 proclaimed 1 April to be the day the currency was to be released. The Report further states that the period of exchange for the Iraqi Dinar and the Indian Rupee was from 1 April to 30 June 1932. As the exchange was based on the current rupee-sterling exchange rate, the rate at which rupees were exchanged for dinars varied over the period of exchange. From 1 April to 28 April the rate was 75 fils to the rupee, from 29 April to 5 May it was 74 fils to the rupees, and from 6 May to 30 June it was 74½ fils to the rupee. The Indian rupee was prohibited from use in retail transactions from 1 October 1932, after which it generally disappeared from circulation. However, it was the opinion of the Board’s Currency Officer in Baghdad that large sums of rupees were probably being hoarded after this date.

            Designed by Sir E. Hilton Young and printed by Bradbury Wilkinson and Company, the notes of the first issue were prepared with a common style, but each note was distinctly different. The principal elements common to the front of each note are a portrait of King Faisal I to the right and a watermark of the King in a white area to the left. King Faisal I of Iraq had been born in Mecca, the son of Husayn ibn ‘Ali who became amir and grand sharif of Mecca, as well as the ruler of the Hejaz prior to ibn Saud’s conquest of that region. An active player in the Arab revolt during World War I, and an important player in pan-Arab nationalism after the war, Faisal had been crowned King of Syria in 1918 with the support of the British. When the French occupied Syria in July 1920, Faisal went into exile in Britain. However, in an effort to assuage resistance to British rule in Iraq, the British proposed to install Faisal as King of Iraq. This proposal was favourably supported in Iraq and Faisal was consequently crowned in August 1921.

            The front of each note of the first issue carries text in Arabic which reads (for the 100-dinar note):

Government of Iraq

One Hundred Dinars

Currency note issued and convertible into sterling in

accordance with the provisions of Law No. 44 of 1931.

Baghdad, 1st July, 1931.

The notes were signed ‘For the Iraq Currency Board’ by three Board members—Sir E. Hilton Young, Ja’far al Askari and Sir Bertram Hornsby. The same text appeared on the back of the notes in English and the three signatures were repeated.

            The first Report of the Iraq Currency Board states:

                        ‘Before the introduction of the new currency, no reliable means existed of estimating the quantities of notes and coins required. It was decided to provide a total of I.D. 3,000,000 in notes and I.D. 500,000 in coin. The total in each case proved to be sufficient, but the proportion allocated to each denomination was in some cases inadequate, with the result that further quantities of certain values of both notes and coins were afterwards despatched. The total value of notes despatched to Iraq up to 31st March, 1933, was I.D. 3,750,000 and coin I.D. 521,000.’

It would appear that the additional notes despatched to Iraq were those of the denominations ¼, ½ and 1 dinar, as these denominations have a second variety. The notes of the second variety are dated 1 August 1932 and carry the signatures of Mr. L. S. Amery, Hussein Afnan and Viscount Goschen. The individual details of each note in the first issue, including their number in the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money (SCWPM), are:


Denomination:

¼ Dinar

SCWPM No.:

1

Size:

141 x 78 mm

Dominant colour:

Green

Signatures:

(1) Sir E. Hilton Young, Ja’far Pasha al Askari & Sir Bertram Hornsby

 

(2) L. S. Amery, Hussein Afnan & Viscount Goschen

 

 

Denomination:

½ Dinar

SCWPM No.:

2

Size:

151 x 86 mm

Dominant colour:

Dark brown

Signatures:

(1) Sir E. Hilton Young, Ja’far Pasha al Askari & Sir Bertram Hornsby

 

(2) L. S. Amery, Hussein Afnan & Viscount Goschen

 

 

Denomination:

1 Dinar

SCWPM No.:

3

Size:

161 x 91 mm

Dominant colour:

Blue

Signatures:

(1) Sir E. Hilton Young, Ja’far Pasha al Askari & Sir Bertram Hornsby

 

(2) L. S. Amery, Hussein Afnan & Viscount Goschen

 

 

Denomination:

5 Dinars

SCWPM No.:

4

Size:

176 x 96 mm

Dominant colour:

Light brown

Signatures:

(1) Sir E. Hilton Young, Ja’far Pasha al Askari & Sir Bertram Hornsby

 

 

Denomination:

10 Dinars

SCWPM No.:

5

Size:

188 x 100 mm

Dominant colour:

Violet

Signatures:

(1) Sir E. Hilton Young, Ja’far Pasha al Askari & Sir Bertram Hornsby

 

 

Denomination:

100 Dinars

SCWPM No.:

6

Size:

200 x 122 mm

Dominant colours:

Green and blue

Signatures:

(1) Sir E. Hilton Young, Ja’far Pasha al Askari & Sir Bertram Hornsby



The Second Issue

King Faisal died in Geneva on 7 September 1933 from a heart attack. He was forty-eight years old. Faisal was succeeded by his son, Ghazi ibn Faisal who was twenty-one at the time of his accession. In recognition of the new monarch, the Currency Board introduced a series of bank notes with a portrait of the young king.

            The notes with the portrait of King Ghazi were introduced over a period of several years. The order of release into circulation, and the decrees under which they were introduced are as follows:

                      The 1-dinar notes were introduced in late 1934 under Decree No. 512 of 29 November 1934

                      The ¼- and ½-dinar notes were introduced during 1935 (possibly also under Decree No. 512 of 29 November 1934, but this is not certain)

                      The 100-dinar note was introduced during 1936 under Decree No. 567 of November 1936

                      The 10-dinar note was introduced during 1938 under Decree No. 282 of 4 July 1938

                      The 5-dinar note was introduced in early 1940 under Decree No. 85 of 27 February 1940

The notes of the second issue are very similar to the notes of the first issue, utilizing the same basic designs and colours, but there are a number of modifications. The principal modification is the use of a portrait of King Ghazi I on the right, and as the watermark on the left. The text on the front of the note was amended slightly, with the single word ‘Baghdad’ replacing the text ‘Baghdad, 1st July, 1931’ (and ‘1st August 1932’) that appeared on the previous issue. The notes are now signed by only two members of the Currency Board, with each denomination having a variety of signature combinations.

            The backs of the notes were also modified, with the following text being removed: ‘Baghdad, 1st July, 1931’ (and ‘1st August 1932’), ‘For the Iraqi Currency Board’ and the signatures. The back of each note was redesigned due to the removal of these items. Details of each denomination are:


Denomination:

¼ Dinar

SCWPM No.:

7

Size:

141 x 78 mm.

Signatures:

(3) L. S. Amery and Ja’far al Askari

 

(4) L. S. Amery and Ali Jawadat

 

(5) L. S. Amery and Raouf al Chadirji

 

(6) L. S. Amery and Atta Amin

 

(7) Lord Kennet and Atta Amin

 

 

Denomination:

½ Dinar

SCWPM No.:

8

Size:

151 x 86 mm.

Signatures:

(3) L. S. Amery and Ja’far al Askari

 

(4) L. S. Amery and Ali Jawadat

 

(5) L. S. Amery and Raouf al Chadirji

 

(6) L. S. Amery and Atta Amin

 

(7) Lord Kennet and Atta Amin

 

 

Denomination:

1 Dinar

SCWPM No.:

9

Size:

161 x 91 mm.

Signatures:

(3) L. S. Amery and Ja’far al Askari

 

(4) L. S. Amery and Ali Jawadat

 

(5) L. S. Amery and Raouf al Chadirji

 

(6) L. S. Amery and Atta Amin

 

(7) Lord Kennet and Atta Amin

 

 

Denomination:

5 Dinars

SCWPM No.:

10

Size:

176 x 96 mm.

Signatures:

(5) L. S. Amery and Raouf al Chadirji

 

(7) Lord Kennet and Atta Amin

 

 

Denomination:

10 Dinars

SCWPM No.:

11

Size:

188 x 100 mm.

Signatures:

(5) L. S. Amery and Raouf al Chadirji

 

(7) Lord Kennet and Atta Amin

 

 

Denomination:

100 Dinars

SCWPM No.:

12

Size:

200 x 122 mm.

Signatures:

(4) L. S. Amery and Ali Jawadat

 

(7) Lord Kennet and Atta Amin


By the time that the 5-dinar note was introduced in 1940, King Ghazi was dead. Ghazi had not followed his father’s strong allegiance to the British, and prior to his father’s death, he had begun to associate with opposition leaders and with leaders of the military. As the relationship between King Ghazi and the British became strained, so too did the association between Ghazi and Nuri al Sa’id, his father’s Prime Minister. On 4 April 1939 Ghazi was killed in a car accident. Details of the accident remained obscure and there has long been a suspicion that Nuri al Sai’id, Abd al Ilah (Ghazi’s cousin) and Ghazi’s estranged wife Aliya (Abd al Ilah’s sister) were involved in orchestrating the accident. In 1939, at the age of three, Ghazi’s son ascended the throne as King Faisal II and Faisal’s uncle, Abd al Ilah, became regent.


The Third Issue

With the onset, and then the out break, of the Second World War, there was an increase in the amount of currency in circulation in Iraq. The increase was largely attributed to people withdrawing money from the banks and caching it. There was a strong faith in the notes of the Currency Board, as they were backed by sterling reserves. However, this faith was put to the test in 1941, when in early May of that year Britain excluded Iraq from the sterling area under ‘Defence (Finance) Regulations, 1939’. This step was taken by the British to put pressure on what was seen to be an allegiance that was shifting from Britain. The perceived power shift became a reality at the end of May when Rashid Ali took control of Iraq with help from sections of the Iraqi military. However, the revolt was soon over and allegiances with Britain were forged anew. In November 1941 Iraq was brought back into the sterling area.

            As the war continued, the tendency to hoard currency persisted and prices continued to rise. The increase in prices was due, in part, to increased spending by the Allied forces in Iraq, who expended great amounts of money in preparation for the war in the east. Interestingly, the British forces in Iraq were spending Iraqi dinars obtained from London. The British government deposited large amounts of sterling with the Iraq Currency Board in London and received an equivalent amount of dinars in return. The dinars were then transported to, and used in, Iraq. The increased spending and hoarding of currency combined to increase the amount of currency in circulation. In the year to 31 March 1943 the amount of currency in circulation increased by I.D. 13,530,019, as opposed to the previous year, where the increase was I.D. 6,137,498.

            As the currency in circulation increased dramatically from 1939, it became necessary to acquire further bank notes to satisfy the demand. However, the outbreak of war had made the delivery of bank notes from Britain a difficult proposition. In order to meet the increased demand for currency, bank notes were ordered from India. As welcome as the notes were, they happened to be in small denominations, while a requirement was for larger denominations was not fulfilled. The following extract from the Report of the Iraq Currency Board for the year ended 31 March 1942 gives the background to this issue:

                                    ‘As it was impossible to arrange for the rapid transport of currency from Great Britain to meet the sudden large increase in the demand, arrangements were made for the supply of notes and coin from India. One dinar, half dinar, and quarter dinar notes were obtained from the Nasik Security Printing Press, and coin of various denominations from the Bombay Mint. The board desire to place on record their appreciation of the promptitude with which the authorities in India came to their assistance.

                                    ‘In spite of these arrangements a temporary shortage of notes occurred in June, and of both notes and coin later in the year. At the end of the year, however, adequate stocks of currency, except the three highest denominations of notes, were available in Iraq and large reserves had been accumulated in India and Great Britain. The value of the new currency despatched to Iraq during the year, omitting consignments lost in transit, was I.D. 9,243,500—I.D. 9,074,000 in notes, and I.D. 169,500 in coin. Of these notes value I.D. 3,874,000 and coin value I.D. 85,000 were despatched from India.’

            The three denominations printed in India, for the values of ¼, ½ and 1 dinar, were released under the authority of three Royal Decrees over a nine-month period. The decrees were: Decree No. 421 of 26 July 1941, Decree No. 575 of 15 September 1941, and Decree No. 121 of 3 March 1942.

            The requirement for notes printed at the Nasik Security Printing Press in India continued for the next three years. In the financial year ending 31 March 1943 some I.D. 3,500,000 was sent to Iraq from India, followed in successive years by I.D. 458,000 (1944) and I.D. 490,000 (1945). The amounts despatched from Britain for the corresponding periods were I.D. 12,421,286 (1943), I.D. 15,025,000 (1944) and I.D. 9,750,000 (1945). The necessity for more notes can be seen in the growth of Iraqi Dinars in circulation during the war. The following table from the annual Report of the Iraq Currency Board for the year ended 31 March 1945 shows the growth of total dinars in circulation at the end of each financial year for the war years:

                        31 March 1939        4,773,297

                        31 March 1940        6,183,293

                        31 March 1941        6,623,291

                        31 March 1942      12,760,789

                        31 March 1943      26,290,808

                        31 March 1944      38,965,831

                        31 March 1945      41,905,602

            The notes printed in India, at the Nasik Security Printing Press, are notable for their lack of a watermark and a printer’s imprint. While carrying a new design, they generally maintain the style of the previous issue. However, amongst numerous differences between the notes printed in India and the usual series of notes, printed in Britain, are the size of the notes and the use of a fractional prefix in the serial number. In preparing the notes in India, it was not possible to obtain specimen signatures of any member of the Currency Board. Therefore, the Iraqi Minister of Finance and Justice, Ibrahim Kamal, provided one signature, while the second (left-hand) signature was provided by Mr. L. M. Swan, the Currency Officer of the Iraq Currency Board.

            One of the mysteries concerning the notes printed in India, is the existence of a 100-fils note that was obviously printed at Nasik, but of which there is no known official record. The annual Reports of the Iraq Currency Board state that the denominations printed at Nasik were one, half and quarter dinars. The 100-fils note identified as part of this issue is illustrated on page 4 of Volume 36, No. 4, 1997 of this Journal. It has the same design features as the notes printed at Nasik and carries the same signatures that appear on those notes. One possible explanation for their unrecorded existence, is that they were introduced for such a short period, that their issue and redemption occurred within a reporting year of Iraq Currency Board. Within Iraq, it is believed that the issue of the 100-fils note was not well received and, after one month, the issue of this denomination ceased. Similar plans to introduce a 50-fils note were scrapped at that time and consequently no notes of this denomination were printed. (This note does survive in specimen form.) Why the denomination of 100 fils was chosen for release is not understood. Coins of 200, 50, 20, 10, 4, 2 and 1 fils circulated within Iraq, but there were no coins of 100 fils.

            The reason for the introduction of the notes may be found in the Annual Reports of the Iraq Currency Board for 1942 and 1943. In the report for the year ended 31 March 1942 (see the extract above) it was noted that there was a shortage of ‘both notes and coin later in the year’. The Annual Reports of the Currency Board for the year ended 31 March 1943 record the issue of the 10- and 4-fils coins in bronze, instead of cupro-nickel, as the war effort had consumed all the nickel that had been reserved for the cupro-nickel alloy intended for the manufacture of coins. The initial shortage of coin towards the end of 1941 may have been temporarily satisfied with bank notes of 100-fils, and the later issue of coins in bronze may have alleviated the problem. However, this is speculation and until some official record of this issue is uncovered, the 100-fils notes remain a tantalizing mystery.

            The individual specifications of the notes printed in India are:


Denomination:

100 Fils

No.:

13B

Size:

130 x 80 mm

Dominant colour:

Light violet

Signature:

(8) L. M. Swan and Ibrahim Kamal.

 

 

Denomination:

¼ Dinar

SCWPM No.:

13

Size:

133 x 75 mm

Dominant colour:

Green

Signature:

(8) L. M. Swan and Ibrahim Kamal.

 

 

Denomination:

½ Dinar

SCWPM No.:

14

Size:

145 x 86 mm

Dominant colour:

Brown

Signature:

(8) L. M. Swan and Ibrahim Kamal.

 

 

Denomination:

1 Dinar

SCWPM No.:

15

Size:

152 x 89 mm

Dominant colour:

Blue

Signature:

(8) L. M. Swan and Ibrahim Kamal.



The Fourth Issue

On 15 July 1942 the fourth series of bank notes was issued. The notes of this issue included all denominations – ¼, ½, 1, 5, 10 and 100 Dinars – and are once again printed by Bradbury Wilkinson and Company. They are very similar to the notes of the first and second series. The introduction of these notes is described in the Report of the Iraq Currency Board for the year ended 31 March 1942.

                        ‘Arrangements were also made during the year to substitute the head of H.M. King Feisal II for that of the late King in the watermark and on the front of the notes printed in Great Britain, and notes of this new pattern were being despatched to Iraq from March, 1942.’

Although the notes remained unchanged, apart from the portrait and watermark, an added design of leaves was placed below the portraits of King Faisal II on some notes. The notes of the fourth issue were placed into circulation at the same time as, and circulated concurrently with, the notes printed in India. However, while the India printed notes were issued over a four year period up to the end of the War, this series continued to be released after the War had ended in 1945.

            The notes of the fourth issue were released under the authority of two Royal Decrees. The decrees were: Decree No. 399 of 15 July 1942 and Decree No. 421 of 30 July 1942.


Denomination:

¼ Dinar

SCWPM No.:

16

Size:

141 x 78 mm

Dominant colour:

Green

Signatures:

(7) Lord Kennet and Atta Amin

 

(9) Lord Kennet and Daoud al Haidari

 

(10) Lord Kennet and Shakir al Wadi

 

 

Denomination:

½ Dinar

SCWPM No.:

17

Size:

151 x 86

Dominant colour:

Dark brown

Signatures:

(7) Lord Kennet and Atta Amin

 

(10) Lord Kennet and Shakir al Wadi

 

 

Denomination:

1 Dinar

SCWPM No.:

18

Size:

161 x 92

Dominant colour:

Blue

Signatures:

(7) Lord Kennet and Atta Amin

 

(9) Lord Kennet and Daoud al Haidari

 

 

Denomination:

5 Dinars

SCWPM No.:

19

Size:

176 x 95

Dominant colour:

Light brown

Signatures:

(7) Lord Kennet and Atta Amin

 

(9) Lord Kennet and Daoud al Haidari

 

 

Denomination:

10 Dinars

SCWPM No.:

20

Size:

188 x 100 mm

Dominant colour:

Violet

Signatures:

(7) Lord Kennet and Atta Amin

 

(9) Lord Kennet and Daoud al Haidari

 

 

Denomination:

100 Dinars

SCWPM No.:

21

Size:

198 x 119 mm

Dominant colour:

Blue and yellow

Signatures:

(9) Lord Kennet and Daoud al Haidari

 

 


Although not issued, a 50-fils note was prepared as a specimen note. This note has the design of an India-printed note, but carries the signatures of Lord Kennet and Daoud al Haidari, suggesting that the specimen was actually prepared in England from a design produced in India. Alternatively, copies of specimen signatures belonging to the two gentlemen may have been delivered to Nasik. Needless to say, very little is known about this note.


Denomination:

50 Fils

SCWPM No.:

A22 (unissued Specimen note)

Size:

101 x 63 mm

Dominant colour:

Yellowish green

Signatures:

(9) Lord Kennet and Daoud al Haidari




The 1948 Issue

A number of years after the notes of the fourth issue were released, the Iraqi Currency Board reprinted the ¼- and ½-dinar notes with the same designs as the notes of the fourth series, except that the portrait of King Faisal II shows him at a later age. The watermark was also modified to match the portrait. The date of issue for these notes is unknown, but it is believed to be 1948. Abdul Malik Khudhairy, the second signatory on these notes, was appointed to the Currency Board on 26 November 1947, so the notes must have been prepared after this date. It is unlikely that the notes were prepared and distributed in the last five weeks of 1947, but they may have been issued in 1949.


Denomination:

¼ Dinar

SCWPM No.:

22

Size:

140 x 78 mm

Dominant colour:

Green

Signature:

(11) Lord Kennet and Abdul Malik Khudhairy

 

 

Denomination:

½ Dinar

SCWPM No.:

23

Size:

152 x 88 mm

Dominant colour:

Dark brown

Signature:

(11) Lord Kennet and Abdul Malik Khudhairy



The Standard Catalog of World Paper Money reports that 1-, 5- and 10-dinar notes (Nos. 24, 25 & 26) of this issue are ‘Reported Not Confirmed’. Notes of these denominations were not released for this issue.

            The currency issued for the Government of Iraq by the Iraq Currency Board had always been backed 100% by sterling currency held in London and administered by the Currency Board. However, in 1948 the British Foreign Office advised the Government of Iraq that they would not be adverse to the removal of excess funds being held as reserve. After being apprised of the offer, and being desperate for revenue, the Iraqis decided to remove £1.5 million from the Board, which left less than 100% cover for the currency. Fortunately, this move was not widely known and it caused no lack of confidence in the Iraqi Dinar.

            Article 24 of Law No. 44 of 1931, which established the Iraq Currency Board, stipulated that the Currency Board was to remain the authority responsible for issuing currency in Iraq until a National Bank could be founded. The creation of an institution to replace the Currency Board became a reality on 20 July 1947 with the creation of the National Bank of Iraq by the ‘Law of the Iraqi National Bank No. 42 of 1947’. Under the terms of this law and under a further law, Law No. 43, the Currency Board was abolished. Royal Decree No. 666 of 9 November 1947 transferred all responsibilities of the Currency Board to the National Bank and the Bank became a legal entity on 16 November 1947. However, due to various delays, the National Bank did not open for business until 1 July 1949. The Iraq Currency Board ceased operating on 30 June 1949.


* * * * *


This study of the bank notes issued by the Iraq Currency Board is derived principally from the annual Reports of the Iraq Currency Board and from a publication by the Central Bank of Iraq, entitled Iraqi Currency – Development stages – 1997. Additional information has been gleaned from a number of other sources and from observations by the authors.



This article was completed in July 2001
© Peter Symes, Murray Hanewich, Layth al-Muderis

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