Published On: Wed, Feb 27th, 2013

Historical Curacao Banknotes To Appear At USA Auction

Curacao notesA unique grouping of Curacao memorabilia set to appear

Next week Thursday 7th March in New York Lyn Knight Currency Auctions of Lenexa, KS, will be selling a piece of Curacao's heritage. The items comprise five private emergency banknotes issued by merchants in Curacao in the late 19th century as well as a Curacaosche Bank 25c emergency issue of 1892 and an undated 1 gulden of the same issuer.

The period when they were issued - the early 1890's - was a time of great turbulence around the world. Many banks failed. In the Dutch West Indies silver dried up; either coins were hoarded or they were shipped out in payment. As a result there was a great need for small change in the island.

To fill this need finely-printed notes on the official Government note-issuing body, the Curacaosche Bank, as well as of private merchants, were ordered in the United States.

Only a handful of these private issues have survived. In the case of this grouping their existence today can be attributed to the foresight of German collector George Pflumer of Hameln. Mr. Pflumer was a major collector of not only German but also all world paper money. While the date is not precisely known it is believed he likely commenced collecting soon after 1880.

In 1926 the entire Pflumer holding was sold to one of the world's wealthiest men, the Marquess of Bute of Great Britain. The Marquess was particularily interested in emergency stamps, notes, and coins that were issued during WWI and the immediate aftermath, particularly in Europe but also in European colonies.

The Marquess had agents around the world who acquired notes including new issues for which they would pay the full face value and charge the Marquess a commission. In this way numerous issues survived -- just as with the Marquess's predecessor, George Pflumer -- rather than just the occasional unredeemed or overlooked note that survived by accident.

In 1970 the Marquess's collection was obtained by a London dealer, and ten years later in May of 1980 the present consignor, William Barrett of Montreal, Canada, acquired the holding as it then stood.

With the Curacao were some unique Dutch notes such as the 5 and 10 Gulden coin replacement notes of 1845, each serial number 1(!), and the 1849 10 Gulden (no 5 being issued) also serial number 1! These great rarities are now in a top Dutch collection.

During WWII the Marquess's collections survived Luftwaffe bombing, but the water used to put out the fires seeped into some of the Marquess's collections. His fabulous stamps, one section alone then valued at some £190,000, were laid out by Stanley Gibbons and dried, then evaluated. Fortunately the banknotes suffered relatively little damage.

Fortuitously George Pflumer's manuscript catalogue-- carefully typed by his daughter as by this time Pflumer apparently suffered failing eyesight -- has survived, and the relevant pages will shortly be reproduced.

Mr. Barrett has added one or two more early rarities to the Curacao collection, which is being offered intact as one lot.

As only one or two of these emergency notes are recorded ever to have been on the market it is most difficult to place a value on them. As a reference: some ten years ago a ticket like scrip note for St Thomas then in the the Danish West Indies issued in a simple local printing by a merchant named Michelsen  was auctioned in Denmark and brought in the range of Euro10,000. This item was also an emergency issue, coming into existence due to the Prussia-Denmark war and the economic dislocation caused to Denmark.

The Curacao merchants survived the crisis and fully redeemed their circulation, which would have then been burned. Without the foresight of George Pflumer this would have left very little for future generations!

A listing of the Curacao emergency note holding:

Curacaosche Bank, 25 Centen 1892
Curacaosche Bank, 1 Gulden, no date
Jones & Borchert, 25 Centen, no date
Jones & Borchert, 50 Centen, no date
Maduro & Sons, 25 Centen, no date
Wed. W. P. Maal, 1 Gulden, September 1893
Aruba Phosphaat Maatschappy, 25 Centen, no date

The issue of emergency notes in1892 by the Curacaosche Bank is referred to by historian Dr. Jaap van Soest in his work "Trustee of the Netherlands Antilles". The notes were printed in New York and not by the usual Dutch printer, Johan Enschede En Zonen: as a result examples in sample form were not saved in the Netherlands resulting in rarities today.

For further information please contact the auctioneer:

Joel Shafer
c/o Lyn Knight Currency Auctions
PO Box 7364
Overland Park, KS  66207>

Thanks to William Barret from Canada for providing us this article. 

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