Printed in Palestine: The Second World War Emergency Notes of Syria, Lebanon and Djibouti Printed by the Government Printer Palestine

Raphael Dabbah, Numismatic Studies, Jerusalem, 2013, ISBN 9789659065028. Hardcover, full color, 336 pages, limited print of 125 books, generally not available for sale.


This book is the second of two monographs by IBNS member Raphael Dabbah. In 2005, Dabbah published the book Currency Notes of the Palestine Currency Board, a work that is considered by many to be the definitive research on Palestine bank notes. One of the intriguing topics in that book was the emergency notes of Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, and Djibouti, all of which were designed and engraved by Emil Pikovsky Zincography in Jerusalem during World War II. The topic was briefly touched upon as the book was devoted primarily to the Palestine issues.

Subsequently, Dabbah dedicated over five years to conduct an intensive, challenging, and comprehensive study in which hundreds of documents were uncovered and consulted. The fruit of this labor is Printed in Palestine, an independent comprehensive study that is also a natural continuation of the first volume.

The book is divided into four chapters. As virtually all of the bank notes described and discussed in the book were issued by the French, it only makes sense that the first chapter presents a detailed historic context of the French Empire during the World War II era.

The second chapter presents the history of the Pikovsky Zincography, including its owners, other work such as passports, stocks and bonds, and other documents.

A secret printing of emergency bank notes is also discussed, before stepping into the third chapter, which delves into the French Levant history and monetary background, followed by a section covering the Syrian and Lebanese bank notes prepared by Pikovsky, together with an impressive parade of illustrations that include circulating notes, specimens, proofs, and other material.

The fourth and last chapter presents in similar style the history of the French Coast of the Somalis (Djibouti), followed by details of the notes printed by Pikovsky.

Despite the great scarcity of adequate documentation related to the subject, information was collected successfully from archives, bank note collections and collectors, making it a unique and ground breaking study. The book runs to 336 pages and includes color illustrations of all known notes, identified by date and prefix, as well as numerous proofs and die proofs of unissued designs, sketches and much more. Many of the designs are published for the first time and some are illustrations of the only recorded examples known in existence today.

The book is a refreshing addition to the global numismatic library, and I encourage any serious scholar or collector of that region to study this book as it is filled with previously unknown but important material.


Controversies with Conservation

Conservation of banknotes refers to any form of restoration, pressing, alteration, or modification that is performed for the purpose of improving the overall appearance of a banknote or enhancing the integrity of the paper. Conservation of banknotes is frequently frowned upon and is a controversial subject. This tendency is understandable in many cases — some banknotes are restored for the sole purpose of deceiving others, while others are restored unprofessionally, resulting in further damage to rare pieces. I am of the view that these decisions should be handled case-by-case.

For example, I have purchased very rare pieces which were already repaired, albeit very crudely. In such cases, I believe that there is no reason I shouldn’t undo the crudely done repair and redo it with the help of a professional conservator. Other pieces that found their way to my collection are damaged examples of moderately rare banknotes. A piece in VG could cost a small fraction of what a VF would cost, sometimes making the purchase of a VF prohibitively expensive. In such cases, I see no harm in restoring some of the attractiveness of an undamaged note.

One thing remains unchanged in spite of all of the above: any restoration or alteration performed on a banknote must always be disclosed without any exceptions. Any deviations from that are considered to be unethical.

Below is an example of a Palestine 1 Pound dated 1927, the most difficult of all 1 Pound notes. An original VF example could cost over $4.000. This one was purchased at a fraction of this price, and with minimal restoration work it now looks like a F, possibly a low-end VF. My intent was not to make it look “new” but rather make it “easy on the eyes”.

Coins of the Palestine Mandate: 1927-1947

A good introduction to the coins of the Palestine mandate can be found in this eBay guide as well as this page on Chiefa coins or Dr. Howard Berlin’s web page. A very popular series amongst most collectors, and a very challenging one to complete in high grades. While I already have this entire series in circulated condition, I am trying to complete a second set, this time in UNC / BU condition. Some dates/denominations are readily available in high grade, but others are extremely rare with just a handful of examples known.

Take a look at my set here –