header Notes Collection

20 Shillings 1937, British West Africa

in Krause book Number: 8b
Years of issue: 04.01.1937
Signatures: Members of the West African Currency Board: Mr. Frank Morrish Baddeley, Mr. John Ernest William Flood, Mr. Roderick Roy Wilson
Serie: 1928 Issue
Specimen of: 02.01.1928
Material: Cotton fiber
Size (mm): 187 х 93
Printer: Waterlow and Sons Limited, London

* All pictures marked magnify are increased partially by magnifying glass, the remaining open in full size by clicking on the image.

** The word "Specimen" is present only on some of electronic pictures, in accordance with banknote images publication rules of appropriate banks.

20 Shillings 1937




Inscriptions: West African Currency, denomination 20 (on the right) and, on the left, is the palm oil tree.


20 Shillings 1937


It is hard to imagine the landscape of the Coastal Plain Nigeria without oil palm. This slender tree brings great benefit to man. All palm use - from the bottom to the top, but its most valuable fruit from which the oil palm. Oil palm is widespread in the forest zone and the north - the valleys of the Niger and Benue. But it is most favorable for the area to the east of the lower Niger, where oil palm forms a continuous belt. Near Sapele and Calabar are oil palm plantations belonging to the "United Africa Company."

On the right and left sides of banknote are stylized leaves of acanthus.


20 Shillings 1937

"Shilin Ashirin" (Twenty Shillings) in Arabic script.


The British West African Pound was the currency of British West Africa, a group of British colonies, protectorates and mandate territories. It was equal to the pound sterling and was similarly subdivided into 20 shillings, each of 12 pence.

In the 19th century, the pound sterling became the currency of the British West African territories and standard issue United Kingdom coinage circulated. The West African territories in question were Nigeria, the Gold Coast (now Ghana), Sierra Leone and The Gambia.

In 1912, the authorities in London set up the West African Currency Board and issued a distinctive set of sterling coinage for use in British West Africa. The circumstance prompting this move was a tendency for existing UK coins used in the West African territories to leave the region and return to the UK, hence causing a local dearth of coinage. A unique British West African variety of the sterling coinage would not be accepted in the shops of Britain and so would remain in circulation locally.

There was a precedent for this move: in 1910, Australia had already commenced issuing its own distinctive varieties of sterling coinage, but the reasons for doing so were quite different from those relating to British West Africa. Australian authorities issued local coinage as a step towards full nationhood. With the exception of Jamaica where special low denomination coins were issued in place of the United Kingdom copper coins, due to local superstitions surrounding the use of copper coinage for church collections, authorities in London did not replace any UK sterling coins with local issues for any other British colony.

The British West African pound was also adopted by Liberia in 1907, replacing the Liberian dollar, although it was not served by the West African Currency Board. Liberia changed to the U.S. dollar in 1943. Togo and Cameroon adopted the West African currency in 1914 and 1916 respectively when British and French troops took over those colonies from Germany as part of World War I.