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.


A Galvano from Syria

A recent addition to our collection…

Syria, large blue plaster galvano for reverse of nickel 1 pound, 1968, value in diamond within rectangle, upon circular scrolling foliate design, inscription above, date below, set on a black lacquer base, 220 mm. (cf. KM.98), in good condition, extremely rare
The only known example of a Syrian galvano.


Privy Marks

Many people have heard of coins having “privy marks” or “no privy marks”, but not everyone knows what this designation refers to. Well, traditionally a privy mark is a small mark or differentiation in the design of a coin for the purpose of identifying the mint where the coin was struck. This practice was particularly popular at French mints. In the context of Arab coins, this is seen with several countries’ issues when they were under French rule, such as Morocco, Tunisia, Syria, Lebanon, etc.   Sometimes, the same coin exists with or without privy marks, or with variations. For instance, the Syria 5 Piastre coins of 1926 exist with no privy marks, as well as with privy marks around the English date “1926”. Illustrated below is a piece with privy marks. In 1933, interestingly enough, the coins were struck with the privy marks around the Arabic date “1933”. An example of this is also illustrated below.

Kingdom of Syria Gold Coin

Arguably the rarest coin of modern Syria is the gold Dinar of the Kingdom of Syria (KM 67). The obverse features a coat of arms with the inscription دينار المملكة السورية which translates to “Dinar of the Kingdom of Syria”, with the date 1920 at the bottom. The reverse features a Tughra style inscription that is hard to read but appears to have the name of the ruler Faisal bin Al-Hussein. The Kingdom officially existed for a few months, from March 8, 1920 to July 25, 1920. Faisal’s stay in Syria was cut short when he was expelled, initially to Britain, and eventually returning to Iraq as King in 1921. The crudely struck coin weighs 6.7 grams and has a diameter of 21 mm. Reportedly, fewer than 20 specimens exist and the coin was never officially issued.

Below is a set of concept designs considered for this elusive rarity, followed by an illustration of the actual coin.