Rare Irish banknotes at London auction


More than 100 Irish banknotes from the early 19th century through to modern times will be among the highlights of the auction of Paper Money to be held in London.

Dix Noonan Webb, the international coins, medals and banknotes specialists, are holding the auction on April 27 at the Washington Mayfair Hotel.

The auction will include a series of notes reflecting the political upheaval and economic changes that followed the partition of Ireland after the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed in 1921.

An extremely rare £10 note issued by the Royal Bank of Ireland in the Irish Free State on 6 May 1929 is expected to fetch £4,000 to £5,000 at the auction.

The entire print run for the Royal Bank’s £10 note was just 12,000 and this was the only date on which they were issued. Records suggest that perhaps only about ten of these notes have survived, which is why they are so sought after by collectors.

The Royal Bank of Ireland £10 note is one of the ‘ploughman’ series of notes issued in the Irish Free State, later Eire, between 1929 and 1940.

The name derives from the image of a ploughman working a field with two horses pulling the plough on the front of the notes. Several scarce notes from this series – officially titled the Consolidated Bank Note Issue – will be offered for sale in the Dix Noonan Webb auction.


They include a Royal Bank of Ireland £5 note issued on 29 January 1931 and a National Bank Ltd £5 note dated 15 March 1933, both of which have pre-sale estimates of £1,800 to £2,200.

All these notes resulted from the partition of Ireland. A Currency Commission was established in the Free State which decided to introduce the Irish Pound fixed at parity with the Pound Sterling.

Eight banks were given permission to issue the new nation’s notes, including the Royal Bank of Ireland, which had not previously produced notes but which had bought the Belfast Banking Company’s network of branches in the Free State in 1923.

The amount of money each bank could issue was proportionate to its size and the Royal Bank of Ireland ranked seventh out of eight in terms of its allocation. As a result its notes are scarcer, especially examples in good condition. The Royal Bank of Ireland, founded in 1836, kept its ‘Royal’ title despite Irish independence but eventually amalgamated with two others to form Allied Irish Banks.

“In 1929 there were 15 different types of £1, £5 and £10 notes circulating in the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland,” said a spokesman for Dix Noonan Webb.

“With 45 different notes issued in a single year on the island of Ireland, some of which are rare, it is a collectors’ paradise.” Dix Noonan Webb Ltd is one of the world’s leading specialist auctioneers and valuers of coins, tokens, medals, militaria and paper money of all types. Established in 1990, the company boasts over 250 years’ combined experience in this field and stages regular auctions throughout the year.


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