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1 Pound 1968, Biafra

in Krause book Number: 2
Years of issue: 29.01.1968
Edition: A/D 10 000 000
Signatures: Governor: Mr. Sylvester U. Ugoh, Director: Mr. William Okefie Uzoaga
Serie: 1967 Issue
Specimen of: 29.01.1968
Material: Cotton fiber
Size (mm): 138 х 70
Printer: Imprensa Nacional, Casa da Moeda S.A., Lisboa

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1 Pound 1968




1 Pound 1968

Palm tree over a rising sun.

Denomination by word on the right, by digits on the right and left (top and bottom).


1 Pound 1968


The back of the 1-pound note carries the Biafran coat of arms above a wreath (constructed of two sprigs of unidentified leaves), and a ceremonial spear behind the disc in which the value of the note is held. The spear (which appears to the left of the 1-pound’s back) is called an ‘Alo’ amongst the Ibo people. It is regarded as a sceptre of power and authority, being carried by Ozo titled men, and as well as its symbolic importance it was also used as a weapon when necessary. (Titled men are part of traditional societies or brotherhoods).

The coat of arms used by Biafra was derived from the coat of arms granted to the Eastern Region of Nigeria in 1960. The difference being that the Eastern Region’s arms had supporters of a leopard (on the left) and a man carrying a spear - an ‘Alo’ (on the right), whereas the Biafran arms had two leopards supporting the shield. The shield contains the rising sun, plus three manillas linked together over an area divided into three parts, which are properly coloured red, black, and green. (These were also the colours of the Biafran flag - three horizontal bars of red, black, and green, with the rising sun in the centre of the black band). Above the shield is an eagle clutching a tusk or horn, and representations of the eagle appeared on a number of Biafran coins.

Taken from their coat of arms, the rising sun became the dominant symbol of Biafra. It appeared on their flag, their coins and bank notes, on military insignia, and it gave rise to the title of their national anthem, Land of the Rising Sun.

The palm tree was important because of its economic significance to Biafra - next to oil, products from the palm trees were the most valuable exports from the region prior to the new republic being declared. In addition, the depiction of a single palm tree had been the dominant feature on the bank notes of the West African Currency Board from 1916 to 1951, and gave a visual reminder of the notes of that era. (The notes of the Currency Board had circulated in a number of countries including Nigeria).

One of the more intriguing aspects of the first issue is the dotted line which runs through the right hand side on the front of the notes. At first it appears to be a ‘Morse code’ security thread, but the marks are in fact printed on the front of the notes. If this is intended to imitate a Morse code thread, then one can only wonder what the Morse characters are meant to spell. Depending on which direction the code is read, the marks on the 5-shilling notes can be decoded as:

‘E T E M N E N I R’ or ‘R I A E A M E T E’

and on the 1-pound:

‘M T E M N E N I W’ or ‘G I A E A M E T M’

(The leading and trailing codes may be truncated, and these particular letters may not be correct.)


Biafra, officially the Republic of Biafra, was a secessionist state in south-eastern Nigeria that existed from 30 May 1967 to 15 January 1970, taking its name from the Bight of Biafra (the Atlantic bay to its south). The inhabitants were mostly the Igbo people who led the secession due to economic, ethnic, cultural and religious tensions among the various peoples of Nigeria. The creation of the new state that was pushing for recognition was among the causes of the Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Nigerian - Biafran War.After two-and-a-half years of war, during which a million civilians had died in fighting and from famine, Biafran forces agreed to a ceasefire with the Nigerian Federal Military Government (FMG), and Biafra was reintegrated into Nigeria.

Issues of banknotes:

5s. MA to MZ (except MI & MO) 24 million

NA to NR (except NI & NO) 16 million

10s. GA to GW (except GI & GO) 19 million

1 pound BA to BZ (except BI & BO) 24 million

CA to CZ (except CI & CO) 24 million

DA to DX (except DI & DO) 22 million

5 pounds WA to WF 6 million

10 pounds ZA to ZC 3 million