Coins and Banknotes of the British Mandate of Palestine


The legal framework governing the legal tender coins for the British Mandate of Palestine was initiated by the 1927 Palestine Currency Order. A memorandum relating to the new currency arrangement was published on March 1, 1927 by the Palestine government in its official gazette. The Currency Notes Ordinance 1927 was then passed in Palestine constituting as legal tender the currency that was to be issued by the Palestine Currency Board. The Order specified that the standard of currency for Palestine was to be the Palestine pound, divided into one thousand mils. This was similar to the decimal system in Egypt, based on 100 piastres to the Egyptian pound, and unlike the typical British non-decimal currency system where 12 pence (d) equaled 1 shilling (s); 20 shillings equaled 1 pound (£) sterling. As required by Article 22 of the Mandate's charter from the League of Nations, it was necessary to show the name "Palestine" in three languages: English, Arabic, and Hebrew.


Coins

The Palestine Currency Board, after consulting with the Mandatory government officials, decided that the coins should be in the denominations of 1 and 2 mils (bronze), 5, 10, and 20 mils (nickel-bronze with center hole), and 50 and 100 mils (silver with reeded, or milled edges). For the two highest denominations, the Board adopted, with the approval of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, an alloy of 720 parts silver and 280 parts copper. Although a gold coin equal to £1 was provided for in the Currency Order in a silver/gold ratio of 10.5:1, none were ever minted.

From their initial introduction on the eve on the tenth anniversary of the Balfour Declaration (November 1, 1927), the coins were minted as needed to meet public demands. Unlike the United States for example, coins were not struck with all the possible year dates from 1927 to the termination of the Mandate in 1948. In all, there were 59 different combinations of dates and denominations comprising the entire range of regularly issued coinage. The 1947-dated coins, which were not officially released for circulation, are not part of the total number accepted by collectors as to what constitutes a complete set of coins. After the termination of the Palestine Mandate and the creation of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948, the coins issued by the Palestine Currency Board remained legal tender in Israel until September 15, 1948; in the Gaza Strip region of Egypt until June 9, 1951; and in Jordan until June 30, 1951. Beyond these dates, the coins were demonetized.

For each denomination, both the obverse and reverse can be seen by selecting the desired value.

1 mil 2 mils 5 mils 10 mils 20 mils 50 mils 100 mils


Banknotes

The Palestine Currency Board was appointed in 1926 by the British Secretary of State for the Colonies, and was in charge of the introduction and control of currency in Palestine under the British Mandate. The activities of the this board, completely independent of local government, were confined to the issue of currency banknotes which were backed by an equivalent amount of Sterling in London. On February 7, 1927, The Palestine Currency Order created the Palestine pound which was divided into 1000 mils. The 1927 Currency Order specified that banknotes be issued in denominations of 500 mils, £P1, £P5, £P10, £P50, and £P100. These banknotes were issued from November 1, 1927 on the eve of the tenth anniversary of the Balfour Declaration until the termination of the mandate in 1948, when over 59 million Palestine pounds were in circulation. In all, there are 22 denomination-date combinations possible for collectors. The banknotes were printed by the London firm of Thomas de la Rue and Company, Limited in one litho-tint and two direct plate workings. Each denomination was set forth, both in figures and words, in trilingual legends and inscriptions in English, Arabic, and Hebrew.

From their original issue of September 1, 1927, banknotes of the Palestine Currency Board were legal tender in Israel until September 15, 1948, even though the State of Israel was formed four months earlier on May 14. Beyond September 15, all banknotes were to be redeemed for an equivalent amount in British pounds. Besides Israel, the banknotes were legal tender in Egypt (Gaza Strip) until June 9, 1951 and in Trans-Jordan until September 30, 1950.

500 mils £P1 £P5 £P10 £P50 £P100


1927 Holyland Token

Perhaps one of the most interesting topics debated in Judaic numismatics is the uncertainty surrounding the origin of the 1927 Holyland Token, sometimes referred to as the "Souvenir Mil." The true story about why this particular item was made has never been known with a high degree of certainty. Learn more about the mystery of the 1927 Holyland Token.


The Coins and Banknotes of Palestine Under the British Mandate, 1927–1947 by Howard M. Berlin

This book has been awarded the Numismatic Literary Guild's "Best Specialized Book on World Paper Money" for 2001

"A thoroughly researched, heavily illustrated, and cross-referenced text...sure to become the standard work in this field"—Fred Reed, Paper Money (Society of Paper Money Collectors)

Read the book's preface on-line.

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©1999-2010, Howard M. Berlin. Member, Numismatic Literary Guild
Updated: November 30, 2010