header Notes Collection

5 Shillings 1968, Biafra

in Krause book Number: 1
Years of issue: 29.01.1968
Edition: A/O 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): 110 х 57
Printer: Imprensa Nacional, Casa da Moeda S.A., Lisboa

* 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.

5 Shillings 1968




5 Shillings 1968

Palm tree over a rising sun.

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).

Denomination by word is on right side, by digits are on right and left sides (at the top and bottom).


5 Shillings 1968

Denominations in numerals are on left side, at the top and bottom - on right side.

In words - bottom left.

On right side are four Igbo or Ibo girls.

The Igbo people (also Ibo, formerly also Iboe, Ebo, Eboe, Eboans, Heebo; natively Ṇ́dị́ Ìgbò) are an ethnic group native to the present-day south-central and southeastern Nigeria. Geographically, the Igbo homeland is divided into two unequal sections by the Niger River – an eastern (which is the larger of the two) and a western section. The Igbo people are one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa.

The Igbo language is divided into numerous regional dialects, and somewhat mutually intelligible with the larger "Igboid" cluster. The Igbo homeland straddles the lower Niger River, east and south of the Edoid and Idomoid groups, and west of the Ibibioid (Cross River) cluster.


On left side is Manilla.

Manillas are a form of money, usually made of bronze or copper, which were used in West Africa. They were produced in large numbers in a wide range of designs, sizes, and weights. Originating before the colonial period, perhaps as the result of trade with the Portuguese Empire, Manillas continued to serve as money and decorative objects until the late 1940s and are still used as decorative objects in some contexts. In the popular consciousness, they are particularly associated with the Atlantic slave trade.

The name manilla is said to derive from the Spanish for a 'bracelet' manella, the Portuguese for 'hand-ring' manilha, or after the Latin manus (hand) or from monilia, plural of monile (necklace). They are usually horseshoe-shaped, with terminations that face each other and are roughly lozenge-shaped. The earliest use of manillas was in West Africa. As a means of exchange they originated in Calabar. Calabar was the chief city of the ancient southeast Nigerian coastal kingdom of that name. It was here in 1505 that a slave could be bought for 8-10 manillas, and an elephant’s tooth for one copper manila

Manillas bear some resemblance to torcs or torques in being rigid and circular and open-ended at the front. (The word "torc" comes from Latin "torquere", "to twist", because of the twisted shape of the collar, an occasional feature of manillas.) Although torcs were most often neck-rings, there were also bracelets with this shape. Torcs were made from gold or bronze, less often silver.

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