header Notes Collection

1 Rupee 1916, second issue in Dar es Salaam, German East Africa

in Krause book Number: 20a
Years of issue: 01.02.1916
Edition: 7 449 925 (from 1915 till 1917)
Signatures: Kassierer der DOAB in Daressalam und Tabora: Herr R.A. Berendt, Bankdirektor der DOAB: Herr A.Frühling
Serie: Interims banknotes
Specimen of: 1915
Material: Cotton fiber
Size (mm): 105 x 64
Printer: D.O.A. Zeitung, a newspaper firm in Dar es Salaam

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1 Rupee 1916, second issue in Dar es Salaam




Watermark - part of the inscription (marked in red in the picture) with the name of the paper mill "J.W.Zanders" in Bergisch Gladbach, which made paper for these banknotes.


1 Rupee 1916, second issue in Dar es Salaam


Small coat of arms of the German Empire, 1889-1918 (in the upper left corner).

Text on banknote: "Die Deutsch Ostafrikanische Bank zahlt bei ihren Kassen im D.O.A Schutzgebiet dem Einlieferer dieser Banknote ohne Legitimationsprüfung Eine Rupie."

English: "The German East African Bank pays one rupee to the deliverer of this banknote at its cash desks in the D.O.A protected area without a verification of identity".

By early 1915, it had become clear that the minting of coins to meet the colony’s economic requirements had become impractical. Brass shell and cartridge casings were in short supply. Further minting of coins became an extravagance the treasury could not afford. Another course of action had to be taken. The colonial government then instructed the Deutsche-Ost-Africanische Bank to issue paper money in the form of “Interims-Banknotes” to satisfy continuing demand. The new notes were to be secured against government land and fully backed by the Kaiser’s government. Denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 200 rupien were authorized.

The following text appears on the face of the notes: “Interims-Banknote die Deutsche-Ostafrikanische Bank zahlt bei ihren Kassen im D.O.A. Schutzgebeit dem Einlieferer dieser Banknote ohne Legitimationsprufung”, which when translated reads: Provisional Banknote. The German East African Bank will pay, without checking a person’s identity, one rupie (etc.) from its offices in the D.O.A. protectorate.

The first of the new notes appeared on 15 March, 1915. This was the 20 rupien, a short lived issue due to the introduction of British counterfeits. The first notes of this series were printed on available linen paper stock, and when that ran out a substitute paper was made from the fibrous jute plant. The handwritten signatures of two authenticating officials appear on the obverse. The reverse of the note carries the phrase “One hundred percent of the face value of this banknote is deposited with the Imperial German East African government” which was also repeated in Swahili. A warning to counterfeiters then followed: “Whoever counterfeits banknotes, or knowingly obtains such notes and puts them into circulation, will be sentenced to not less than two years”. There being two types of prisons at the time, one for petty crimes and one for serious ones, the term “Zuchthaus” as used here, referred to “hard time”.

Among the one rupie notes, the Tabora issue stands out, as the imperial eagle in the upper left corner is much larger than its Dar es Salaam counterparts. The second Dar es Salaam printing contains a modified back with an arabesque violet diagonal band bearing the words “Ein Rupie” overprinted on the note. The one rupie notes offer an infinite number of varieties for the numismatist. These include signatures, series letters, paper varieties, paper colors, and overprints. The first one rupie note released (block letter “A”) does not contain the eagle on the obverse. The most commonly encountered overprint appears as a greasy stamp bearing the initials “D.O.A.B”, or sometimes merely “BANK”. The means with which to overprint notes must have been severely limited, as I have seen some overprints of the stamp “BANK” with an inverted “V” used in lieu of an “A”. Other commonly encountered overprints are the capital letters “N”,“V” or “W”. Occassionally other overprints are encountered, such as the oval hand stamp of the Herrnhut mission at Sikonge, located south of Tabora.

A total of twenty men were authorized by the government to sign these notes and to place them into circulation. They were a diverse lot, but all had one thing in common. They all held positions of responsibility and accountability within the community. Eight were government secretaries; three (Fruhling, Kirst and Stelling) were bank employees. The others came from different jobs. Berendt had been the senior paymaster on the ship Planet. Brandenburg was the Schutztruppe paymaster; Westhaus, the postmaster at Lindi; Menzel, an ex-Konigsberg officer, while Ernst was a civil servant affiliated with the Tabora railroad office. All these signatures frequently appear on DOAB notes. Most are handwritten signatures, but later on many were applied by facsimile stamp. Dar es Salaam and Tabora both produced one rupie notes with the signature “A. Fruhling” printed at right together with one handwritten signature at left.

One of the more interesting anomalies was due to the severe shortage of paper. Once the existing stock of good papers had been consumed, the bank resorted to using anything it could lay its hands on. Commercial paper, with and without watermarks, was used. Also used were carton wrapping papers, paper made from the jute plant and oil paper. The latter was salvaged from the packing material used by the factory to protect rifle cartridges and other ammunition from moisture and humidity during shipment.

Some papers were stiff, some soft. Where used, the thick paper had a blotter like quality. The range of paper colors was infinite. While whitish paper predominated, notes were also printed on blue-gray, dark brown, olive brown, various shades of blue, and dark green papers. The Tabora printed notes are also distinguishable by their color. All were reddish-brown, golden-brown, dark brown or grey-brown. The oil paper was golden-brown, stiff, and more difficult to print on. All five rupien notes were either blue or green, while 10 rupien notes were printed on either brownish carton paper or a dark brown mottled jute paper.

Interim note production continued into February 1916, after which time the Tabora and Dar es Salaam mints were both abandoned due to the combined Belgian-British invasion.


1 Rupee 1916, second issue in Dar es Salaam

Text on banknote, top, in German and Swahili: "Der Gegenwert dieser Banknote ist bei der Kaiserlichen Gouvernement von Deutsch-Ostafrika voll hinterlegt."

English: "The countervalue of this banknote is fully deposited with the Imperial Government of German East Africa."

Text on the banknote, below: "Wer Banknoten nachmacht oder verfälscht oder nachgemachte oder verfälschte sich verschafft und in Verkehr bringt, wird mit Zuchthaus nicht unter zwei Jahren bestraft."

English: "Those who forge bank notes or runs the counterfeit into circulation will be subject to imprisonment for at least two years."



The Rupie was the currency of German East Africa between 1890 and 1916, continuing to circulate in the Tanganyika Territory until 1920.

The Indian rupee was the dominant currency used along the East African coast during the second half of the XIX century where it had marginalized the American gold dollar and the Maria Theresa thaler. The German East Africa Company acquired rights to mint coinage in 1890 and issued rupies which were equivalent to the Indian and Zanzibar rupee. The Company retained its coinage rights even after the takeover of German East Africa by the government later in 1890. In 1904 the German government took over currency matters and established the Ostafrikanische Bank.

The Rupie was initially equivalent to the Indian rupee. Until 1904, it was subdivided into 64 Pesa (equivalent to the Indian pice or paisa). The currency was decimalized on 28 February 1904, with 1 Rupie = 100 Heller. At the same time, a fixed exchange rate of 15 Rupien = 20 German Mark was established.

In 1915 and 1916 in the period of fighting in East Africa during World War I a large series of emergency issues of paper money were issued. 1916 also saw a final issue of coins to pay German led troops, including 15 Rupien coins which contained an equivalent amount of gold from the Sekenke Gold Mine to equal 15 German Marks. Later in 1916 German East Africa was occupied by British and Belgian forces. In Tanganyika, the Rupie circulated alongside the East African rupee (to which it was equal) until 1920, when both were replaced by the East African florin at par. In Burundi and Rwanda, the Belgian Congolese franc replaced the Rupie in 1916.

In 1890, copper 1 Pesa and silver 1 and 2 Rupie coins were introduced, followed the next year by silver ¼ and ½ Rupie and in 1893 by silver 2 Rupien coins. The silver coins were minted to the same standard as the Indian rupee.

As a consequence of decimalization, bronze ½ and 1 Heller were introduced in 1904, followed by bronze 5 Heller and holed, cupro-nickel 10 Heller in 1908. In 1913, holed, cupro-nickel 5 Heller were introduced.

The 1916 issues were minted at Tabora as a wartime emergency coinage. A total of 302,940 brass 5 Heller were issued. In addition, both copper (325,000) and brass (1,307,760) 20 Heller coins were produced, a quantity that allows them to remain readily available for collectors. In addition 16,198 of the gold 15 Rupien mentioned above were produced. While the smaller valued coins were crudely struck, the gold pieces received fine detail.


In 1909, the German East African Bank (Deutsch-Ostafrikanische Bank) was opened in Dar es-Salaam, which received the right to issue banknotes. In 1915-1917, the bank issued temporary banknotes (German Interims-Banknote), distinguished by a wide variety of types.

In 1905, the Deutsch-Ostafrikanische Bank introduced notes for 5, 10, 50, and 100 Rupien, and 500 Rupien in 1912. Between 1915 and 1917, World War I emergency issue (interim) notes were produced in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 200 Rupien.

Colonial German East Africa was cut off from Germany resulting from a wartime blockade. Silver coinage was hoarded for its intrinsic value in commercial transactions, and the colonial government was pressured into creating interim banknotes. Previous issues of banknotes (i.e., 1905 and 1912) were produced by the German printing company Giesecke & Devrient. The colonial government contracted with the printers of Deutsch-Ostafrikanische Zeitung, a daily newspaper in Dar es-Salaam, and on 15 March 1915 they produced the first issue of provisional notes (20 rupien), initially printed on linen and later on paper made from jute. Given the wartime supply shortages, the provisional notes were also printed on commercial paper, wrapping paper, and in one very rare instance, wall paper. Initially variations of white, the notes also appeared in a wide variety of colors, including blue-gray, olive brown, reddish brown, golden brown, dark brown, gray brown, shades of blue, and dark green.

The translated text of the notes states: (front) Provisional Banknote. The German East African Bank will pay, without checking a person’s identity, one rupie (etc.) from its offices in the D.O.A. protectorate. and, in both German and Swahili: (reverse) One hundred percent of the face value of this banknote is deposited with the Imperial German East African government. A warning on the lower reverse of the note states that counterfeiting will result in a minimum sentence of two years at hard labor. Treasury records from colonial German East Africa indicate that 8,876,741 interim notes were printed.