Sudan’s First Banknotes

Peter Symes

First published in the

International Bank Note Society Journal

Volume 40, No.3, 2001

Open volume two of the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money (SCWPM) and observe the earliest entries for the Sudan. The first series of notes catalogued in this volume is a series of unissued notes by the Government of the Sudan—Nos. A1 to A5. This series is followed by an issue of the Sudan Currency Board—Nos. 1 to 5. Why was the first issue produced but never placed in circulation? The answer, it would appear, is political and complex!

            Following the overthrow of the Mahdist regime in 1898, Britain and Egypt ruled the Sudan under the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium agreements of 19 January and 10 July 1899. The condominium flourished under British domination until Sir Lee Stacks, the Governor-General of the Sudan, was assassinated in Cairo on 19 November 1924. Five days later, on 24 November, the British compelled the Egyptian forces to withdraw from the Sudan. This withdrawal was not favourably received by all Sudanese and a mutiny by a Sudanese battalion, which supported the Egyptians, was put down. What would later be termed the Sudanese ‘revolt’ was contained.

            In 1936 the British and Egyptians reached a partial accord under the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium agreements, which allowed Egyptian forces to return to the Sudan, but under the agreements Egypt accepted the suzerainty of Britain over the Sudan. However, the Sudanese had not been consulted in the change to the condominium agreement and a nationalism espoused by the new educated elite was stirred and voiced. The aim of the nationalists became independence for the Sudan.

            During a convoluted journey to independence, self-determination for the Sudan was regarded by the British with some scepticism whenever the subject was considered. For unknown reasons the British regarded the ability of the Sudanese to determine their own future with less regard than that given to many other colonies over which they held control. However, there was a counterpoint to their fears in the form of Egypt. Many Egyptians saw the Sudan as an extension of Egypt and several political parties in the Sudan held the same view.

            A successful Advisory Council of Sudanese nationals, established in the early 1940s, showed there was considerable talent held by the men of the Sudan when it came to addressing the affairs of their country. This led the British to consider a wider role for Sudanese citizens in the maintenance of their own affairs. In 1948, against a backdrop of political turmoil, when there were calls for self-determination on one side and a closer association with Egypt on the other, the Governor-General of the Sudan decided that a representative body of Sudanese people was necessary. Consequently he instigated an ordinance that allowed for a seventy-five seat Legislative Assembly.

            Although the election for the assembly was boycotted by the pro-Egyptian party, an Assembly that largely represented the population was convened. The leader of the new Assembly was Abdullah Bey. In addition to the members elected to the assembly, the Ministers of Health and Education and ten Under-Secretaries (all appointed by Abdullah Bey) became ex-officio members of the assembly. From the Legislative Assembly and from the British civil servants administering the Sudan, an Executive Council was selected. Both the Legislative Assembly and the Executive Council met for the first time in December 1948. These administrative bodies successfully governed the Sudan for the next four years. However, this period was not without unrest, as riots, strikes and political friction all made themselves felt.

            In 1951 a Constitutional Commission was created to examine the ordinance that had established the Legislative Assembly. This was seen to be tantamount to an investigation into legislating for the independence of the Sudan. In reviewing the constitutional arrangements of the Sudan, the Constitutional Commission attracted the interest of all political elements of the country. However, the political machinations of the Sudan were interrupted on 8 October 1951 when the Egyptian Prime Minister, Mustafa Nahas Pasha, announced to the Egyptian parliament that the 1936 Treaty and Condominium Agreements were now void. King Farouk was named King of the Sudan and a Bill creating a new Sudanese assembly was introduced.

            News of this move was received with little alarm in Sudan. Indeed, the Legislative Assembly passed a motion in support of the British, ignored the Egyptian declaration, and the situation continued much as it had before. In November, Britain backed the draft proposal of the Constitutional Commission, supporting the proposed constitution that allowed for self-government by the end of 1952, followed by self-determination at a later date. The proposal was subsequently placed before the Assembly in January 1952 and passed into law in May of the same year.

            In Egypt, the government of Nahas Pasha had fallen amidst bloody riots in Cairo on 26 January 1952. The successor to Nahas Pasha was Najib el Hilali and he decided to court the only real Sudanese opposition to Egypt achieving sovereignty in Sudan. This opposition came from the Mahdists led by Sayed Abdel Rahman, who allowed his representatives to open a dialogue with the Egyptians in May. He also considered continuing the talks with Hilali’s replacement, Husayn Sirri, but all talks ceased when, on 23 July, General Muhammad Naguib overthrew King Farouk. General Naguib immediately renounced Egypt’s claims to sovereignty over the Sudan.

            However, the political machinations continued and, one by one, the political parties in the Sudan approached General Naguib and signed an agreement which sought the complete removal of British administrators from the Sudan within three years. Even the southerners, who had gained protection from the northerners under British rule, opted to seek the support of General Naguib. Finally, in February 1953, Britain signed a similar agreement, allowing for the election of a transitional government under the supervision of a Special Commission. Meanwhile, the Legislative Assembly had concluded its constitutional life at the end of 1952 and throughout 1953 the Sudan was run by the Executive Council.

            The hard fought elections of 1953 resulted in a win for the National Unionist Party (NUP), who won 50 seats in the 97 seat parliament. The new government, led by Prime Minister Ismail al Azhari, took control in January 1954. One of the first acts to be passed by the transitional government was the Self-Government Act which set the three-year period in which the Sudan had to make a choice between being an independent nation, or becoming part of Egypt. A programme was also commenced to replace all British officials with Sudanese nationals. This programme of ‘Sudanization’ was completed in April 1955.

            During 1954 and 1955 the relationship between the Sudan and Egypt began to show signs of friction. With the steady removal of the British, support for the Egyptians also waned. Support ebbed even further in November 1954 when Gamal Abdel Nasser took over from General Naguib. While the General had been popular in the Sudan, Nasser was not. In addition, the Sudanese and Egyptian leaders did not get along very well and it became inevitable that the decision for self-determination would succeed above any call for union with Egypt. On 16 August 1955 the Sudanese House of Representatives passed a resolution for self-determination. By 13 November all British and Egyptian troops had been withdrawn from the country. On 3 December 1955, Egypt and Britain signed an agreement for the referendum on self-determination, but their plans were ignored by the Sudanese who announced the agreement to be unacceptable.

            When, on 19 December 1955, the Sudanese parliament declared the Sudan to be independent, one year ahead of schedule and without holding the intended plebiscite, neither Egypt nor Britain objected. So, on 1 January 1956, with little fanfare, Sudan became an independent nation. The leader of the Sudan continued to be Ismail al Azhari, but his position was far from stable. Prior to independence, in November 1955, his government had been defeated in parliament in a motion of no confidence, but at a subsequent vote he had managed to maintain his majority by two votes. In January, immediately after independence, his NUP government was defeated in parliament. This led, on 2 February, to the formation of an all-party government led by Mr. Azhari. However, six months later, on 4 July 1956, the all-party government was defeated, following the creation of a new political party that drew on disillusioned members of parliament. On 5 July a new government was elected under the leadership of Abdullah Khalil.

            It was amidst this political turmoil that the quest for a national currency for the Sudan was first projected. For many years, the currency in the Sudan had been Egyptian currency (and British coins). Sudan’s close ties with Egypt, their common heritage, and Britain’s penchant for using as few currency authorities as possible in their colonies and dominions, led to this successful situation.

            However, with independence must come the trappings of an independent nation, and one of the first targets is usually the currency—in the Sudan this was most certainly the case. The matter was also important to the Sudanese government, as the circulation of Egyptian currency and British coins indicated an indebtedness to their colonial masters. The currency circulating in the Sudan was in essence an interest-free loan to the governments who issued the currency. If the Sudan had presented the currency to Egypt and Britain for payment, each country would have had to reimburse the Sudan in gold or foreign exchange. While their currency circulated in the Sudan, this gold or foreign exchange could be put to profitable use by the Egyptian and British governments.

             It appears that the Sudanese Government took the first steps to introduce their own currency within eighteen months of the transitional government of Ismail al Azhari being established in January 1954. The struggle for an independent currency is first reported in the Quarterly Economic Review of Egypt and Sudan No.10 July 1955 (published by The Economist Intelligence Unit) in the following manner:

                        ‘At the moment Sudan shares a common currency with Egypt and is in the Egyptian monetary area. (The British shilling and two shilling piece also circulate widely and are legal currency.) According to reports from the Sudan, the Government is preparing to break away and create an independent currency. Legally this cannot be done if either of the two condominium powers object, so that the change may have to wait until after the country’s status is decided. Cover for a Sudan currency would presumably be provided by sterling reserves, estimated at £12½ million at the end of 1954 and by Government Bank deposits, now held by the National Bank of Egypt, which amounted to £E 3.5 million in early 1954. At this time private bank deposits, including both deposits and current accounts, amounted to £E 13.9 million. There are no estimates of money in circulation.’

            The progress of the independent currency is again the subject of a comment in the Quarterly Economic Review of Egypt and Sudan No.11 November 1955:

                        ‘A ministerial committee has been set up to consider the question of an independent currency for the Sudan, and advice has been sought from the Indian government. Questions recently discussed were the minting of a new coinage and the techniques of withdrawal of the Egyptian and British currency at present in circulation. Czechoslovakia is reported to have offered to mint the new coinage, or alternatively to supply minting machinery.’

            Despite the apparent plans of the Government for the early introduction of a national currency, there were delays in the introduction of the currency and, as time passed, the delays lengthened. The following extract from the International Financial News Survey (published by the International Monetary Fund) shows the early measures taken by the new government. It will be noted that the order for the banknotes must have been placed prior to independence, and thus the introduction of a Sudanese currency must have been part of the plans of the transitional government, formulated prior to the premature declaration of independence.

‘The Sudanese Minister of Finance and Economy has stated in the Chamber of Deputies that all steps have been completed for establishing a Sudanese currency. Paper notes already printed or being printed are considered enough to cover the withdrawal of all the bank notes presently in circulation in the Sudan, most of which are Egyptian notes issued by the National Bank of Egypt. The Minister also stated that the Egyptian Government has agreed to send a delegation to negotiate the procedure for withdrawing Egyptian notes and coins; and the British Government has agreed to pay in sterling for British coins now in circulation in the Sudan.

‘The Sudanese Government is studying the possibility of establishing a mint for producing Sudanese coins. But since this may take some time, the coins now in circulation will probably continue to be used after the withdrawal of bank notes presently in circulation.

‘The Minister reported that the Government intends to pass special legislation establishing and regulating the new currency. A committee, which will be created to make preparations for this legislation, is expected to submit its report within two or three months; but since Parliament will not be in session at that time, the legislation will be promulgated as a temporary order. It will provide for the establishment and issuance of an independent Sudanese currency at par with the Egyptian pound; the establishment of a Sudanese Currency Commission to supervise and administer the new currency; the establishment of the cover of the new currency; and the procedure for issuing the new currency and withdrawing the notes and coins now in circulation.

‘Samples of the new currency, which have already arrived in Khartoum, are in denominations of 10 pounds, 5 pounds, 1 pound, a half pound (50 piastres) and a quarter pound (25 piastres).’

International Financial News Survey, 2 March 1956; sourced from Al Ahram, Cairo, Egypt, 17 February 1956.

            The problems that held up the release of the notes are partially described in the Quarterly Economic Review for Egypt, Sudan and Libya No.13 April 1956:

                        ‘For some time the Government has wished to introduce it own currency and thus end what is in effect an interest-free loan to Egypt, and it has now sufficient notes printed to cover the withdrawal of all Egyptian notes. Despite protracted negotiation no agreement has yet been reached on the redemption of Egyptian money. The Egyptian authorities are willing to redeem all notes for Egyptian Treasury Bills, which they claim would give an adequate backing for a Sudanese currency. The Sudanese Government would, however, prefer to hold at least a part of its reserves as gold or U.K. Treasury bills, but this the Egyptian authorities object to, since such a transfer would add to the present Egyptian external payments difficulties. The U.K. has promised to redeem its currency in the Sudan, but since this consists of coins the Sudanese Government will be slower to replace it than it will be with Egyptian paper money.’

            The notes prepared for issue by the Government of the Sudan, which had arrived in Khartoum by early 1956 but never released, were printed by Waterlow and Sons of London. They were very similar to the notes that were finally released, with the principal difference being the text on the notes. The Arabic text on the front of the first notes prepared for the Government translates as:

The Government of the Sudan

Promises to pay the bearer on demand

(the denomination of the note in numerals and text)

(signed) Head of the Council of Ministers (i.e. Prime Minister)

Khartoum 6 July 1955

(signed) Minister of Finance and Economics

The notes were signed by Ismail al Azhari, the Prime Minister, and Hammad Tewfik, as Minister of Finance and Economics. It is most likely that the date, 6 July 1955, refers to the date on which the notes were authorized for issue.

The intention for the Sudan to issue its own currency was first reported in the Quarterly Economic Review of Egypt and Sudan No.10 July 1955 (see above), and the date of this announcement coincides closely with the date on the notes.

            The notes that had arrived in Khartoum are the notes listed in the Standard Calatog of World Paper Money as Nos. A1 to A5.

No. A1

25 piastres


Sudanese soldiers, with the savannah in the background.


Red, with an orange and green under-print.



No. A2

50 piastres


Two elephants on the savannah.


Green, with a purple and orange under-print.



No. A3

1 pound


The Sennar Dam on the Blue Nile. Built in 1926, it is a major part of the Gezira irrigation scheme. The dam wall also serves as the railway bridge across the river.


Predominantly blue, with purple, yellow, orange, brown and grey highlights.



No. A4

5 pounds


A felucca with a triangular sail moves lazily on the river, with the river bank in the background.


Predominantly burgundy-red, with a yellow, green, purple and red under-print.



No. A5

10 pounds


Gordon College, which is part of Khartoum University.


Black, with an under-print of green, yellow, blue and orange.

            The back of all denominations carry an illustration of the ‘Camel Postman’. This illustration is based on a drawing made by Captain (later Colonel) E. A. Stanton in 1897 at the request of Sir Herbert (later Lord) Kitchener. Sir Herbert was seeking a design for the first series of postage stamps to be issued in the Sudan (which was then using Egyptian stamps). The illustration was adapted by Thomas De La Rue & Company and appeared on the first Sudanese postage stamps issued in 1898. The image was used on many subsequent issues of postage stamps and, many years later, on the Sudanese coins introduced after independence.

            The idea for the illustration came to Capt. Stanton when the mail was delivered to his regiment by camel instead of by the usual steamer. To assist him in completing the illustration, Capt. Stanton persuaded the Sheikh of the Howawir tribe to don his war-dress and sit atop his camel, which carried four sacks filled with chopped straw. The finished drawing had the names of the two major towns in the Sudan, Khartoum and Berber, written on the ‘mail’ sacks, along with a crescent moon and star. While these small details were transferred to the illustrations on the stamps, they did not appear on the sacks in the illustration on the banknotes.

            These banknotes prepared under the authority of the Government of the Sudan were never placed into circulation, as the administrative processes required for their release were retarded time and again until a decision was made not to introduce them. However, during 1956 the machinations of the authorities continued to promise their release.

            In June 1956 the Overseas Review, a publication by Barclays Bank D.C.O., reported that official pay packets in the Sudan would contain Sudanese currency notes from 1 July 1956. The report also indicated that British silver was in the process of being withdrawn and that agreements concerning the withdrawal of Egyptian currency were expected to be finalized in the immediate future. However, this report was optimistic in its forecast of an early resolution to the negotiations between Egypt and the Sudan.

            As indicated previously, there were several problems in the negotiations between Egypt and the Sudan over the introduction of the new currency and the withdrawal of the Egyptian currency. The Sudanese Government had requested that some of the Egyptian currency circulating in the Sudan should be redeemed by means of Britain releasing some of Egypt’s sterling balances. They argued that part of the Sudan’s past sterling earnings were reflected in Egypt’s sterling balances. Egypt continued to disagree to this proposition. The Lebanese newspaper Le Commerce du Levant reported on 15 August 1956 that talks between the Sudanese and Egyptian governments over the currency arrangements had been temporarily suspended. The same report stated that the Sudanese Council of Ministers had decided to issue the new currency at the end of September. Of some interest, is the statement in the report that 22 million Sudanese pounds were being prepared for the new issue.

            In September 1956 the Overseas Review (Barclays Bank D.C.O., London) reported that a decision had been made to postpone the introduction of the new currency until March 1957. According to the report, the reason for the postponement was the decision to reprint the notes because the notes already prepared for introduction carried the signature of the defeated Prime Minister, Ismail al Azhari. The new notes, it was reported, would carry the signature of a civil servant. A similar report occurs in the Three-Monthly Economic Review – Egypt Libya Sudan – No.15 October 1956 (the successor to the Quarterly Economic Review for Egypt, Sudan and Libya):

                        ‘The new Sudanese currency, which had been printed ready for issue in September, has been destroyed because it bore the signature of the previous Prime Minister, Ismail el Azhari, who is now in opposition. The government felt that the issue would have been political propaganda for Azhari and that notes should not be signed by the premier but by the chairman of the currency board. It is reported that the new currency will not be issued before next March, but in any case negotiations have still not been completed with the Egyptian government for the withdrawal of Egyptian currency now in circulation in the Sudan and for the backing of the new issue. Originally Egypt opposed Sudanese demands for a partial backing in gold or U.K. Treasury Bills, as this would add to its payment difficulties, but it is understood that it has now made concessions to the Sudanese point of view.’

            It is interesting to speculate on the reports in the Overseas Review and the Three-Monthly Economic Review. Was such offence taken at Mr. Azhari’s signature, that the notes, which were printed and ready for circulation, should be totally abandoned? Perhaps there were other forces at work and the story of the signature was just a popular myth. Certainly, the talks that had dragged on between Egypt and the Sudan appeared to be holding up the release of the notes and, in parallel with the talks, the Sudanese Government had begun the process of setting up the Sudan Currency Board. Perhaps realizing that the talks with Egypt would continue to extend and, wishing to ensure the authority of the Currency Board, a decision was taken to abandon the Government issue in favour of an issue released under the authority of the Currency Board. But then again, perhaps the new Prime Minister did take affront at his predecessor’s signature appearing on the banknotes!

            While the manoeuvring between Egypt and the Sudan held up the release of the banknotes, the processes launched for the introduction of coins managed to roll along with few problems. The first Sudanese coins were introduced into circulation during the last week of January 1957, some months before the Currency Board was initially convened.

            Progress on the reorganization of monetary system in the Sudan at this time is encapsulated in the following report from the Three-Monthly Economic Review – Egypt Libya Sudan – No.16 January 1957:

                        ‘No agreement has yet been announced on the long delayed currency settlement with Egypt, which may well be further held up by Egypt’s present difficulties for some time; it seems, however, that the government is determined to go ahead with the issue of the new currency, most of which has now arrived, in March or April. In Parliament, the Minister of Finance announced that foreign exchange reserves at the end of September stood at £33.7 mn – the equivalent of 8-9 months total imports – so there need be no immediate worries concerning foreign exchange backing, but Sudan is inevitably eager to obtain some settlement before long particularly as there seems some fear of a devaluation of the Egyptian currency though this remains unlikely as present. A Sudanese Currency Board has been formed including representatives of the central banks of Egypt, Sweden and the U.K., and the government has announced its intention to establish its own mint for which equipment is to be obtained from W. Germany. A contingent of American experts has recently been in Khartoum to advise on the setting up of the Central Bank, and the government also hopes to establish in 1957 the proposed Agricultural Credit Bank for which funds have already been set aside in the Development Budget.’

(Egypt’s ‘difficulties’, alluded to above, stemmed from economic sanctions placed on it by Britain, France and the United States of America, following Egypt’s nationalization of the Suez Canal Company. By Britain assuming control of all transfers in and out of Egyptian sterling accounts, and by the three governments freezing all assets of the Suez Canal Company held in the U.K., France and the U.S.A., Egypt found its access to foreign exchange greatly diminished. Subsequent economic problems meant that Sudan’s claims placed an extra, and unwelcome, demand on its already weakened economy.)

            The decision to set up the Sudan Currency Board was taken in June 1956 and was established by the Currency Act 1956 (No. 26). The Board consisted of six members, of which the Deputy Permanent Under Secretary of the Ministry of Finance and Economics was the ex-officio Chairman, while the Director of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Supply was an ex-officio member. The other four members were appointed by the Government, of whom one was to be a Sudanese national and the other three were to be suitably qualified persons. In seeking qualified people for the Board, the Government sought representatives from three national banks, the banks being the Bank of England, the National Bank of Egypt and the Bank of Sweden. Based in Khartoum, the board was required to meet twice a year. The first members of the Sudan Currency Board were:

                        Mahmoun Beheiry (Chairman)

                        Ibrahim Osman Ishag

                        Saad el Din Fawzi

                        C. E. Loombe (representing the Bank of England)

                        Mustafa Mohamed el Sakkaf (representing the National Bank of Egypt)

                        Sven Joge (representing the Bank of Sweden)

Mustafa Mohamed el Sakkaf was succeeded by Mohamed Mahmoud Fahmi. The Currency Controller of the Currency Board was Mr. Z. Siemienski.

            The Sudan Currency Board convened for the first time in Khartoum on 5 March 1957, and at this meeting confirmed that the issue of Sudanese currency notes would commence on 8 April. The firmness of this decision was due to the conclusion, after so much time, of two agreements between the Sudan and Egypt. The first agreement concerned the redemption of Egyptian currency circulating in the Sudan, and the second concerned payment arrangements between the two countries. Under the agreements, Egyptian notes had to be handed over to the Egyptian Government within three months of the introduction of Sudanese currency, and coins had to be handed over by the end of June 1958. The final arrangements were summarized in the Three-Monthly Economic Review – Egypt Sudan Libya – No.17 May 1957:

                        ‘A further move away from Egypt will be effected as a result of negotiations in Cairo on the redemption of Egyptian currency, estimated at roughly £E25 mn, now circulating in the Sudan. The agreement authorised the Sudan to ask for the release of £20 mn sterling from the blocked No.2 balance in London, and provided for the payment of the balance by Egypt in the form of Egyptian treasury bills and goods at the rate of £2 mn yearly. The agreement also contained a pledge of mutual consultation on trade policy. A payments agreement between the two countries was signed at the same meeting.

                        ‘In reply to the Sudanese, the British government has consented to the release of £15 mn. The question of the remaining £5 mn is thus still open but the long-debated issue of backing for the new currency is now well on the way to settlement, and the Sudan can now control effectively its monetary policy.’

            The Sudanese pound was subsequently introduced on 8 April 1957, and replaced the Egyptian pound at par during a period of exchange that lasted until 7 July 1957. After this date the Egyptian pound was no longer legal tender in the Sudan (although a restricted exchange period of three months ensued for people who could justify their inability to exchange their currency during the original period). The first report of the Sudan Currency Board states that £E 23,747,454 in paper money had been withdrawn from circulation and had been replaced with £S 22,872,00 in notes and £S 1,439,553 in coins. There were still an insignificant amount of Egyptian coins in circulation.

            The notes introduced into circulation were similar to those previously prepared for the Government, but the text on the notes was changed to refer to the Sudan Currency Board. The notes were issued in the denominations of 10, 5 and 1 pound, and 50 and 25 piastres. These notes are referred to as Nos. 1A, 2A, 3, 4 and 5 in the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money. The Arabic text on the front of each note reads:

The Republic of the Sudan

The Sudanese Currency Board

Promises to pay the bearer on demand

(the denomination of the note in numerals and text)

The notes are signed by Mahmoun Beheiry as ‘Chairman of the Board’ and Ibrahim Osman Ishag as a ‘Board Member’. Next to the signatures are the place and date of authorization: ‘Al-Khartoum on 15 September 1956’. (The date coincides with the decision to destroy the original order of notes and commission a new set of notes issued by the Currency Board. This was reported in the Overseas Review in September 1956 – see above.)

            The banknotes issued by the Sudan Currency Board are relatively simple, in that there are only five denominations and only one series of notes. Apart from the differences in text, between the notes prepared for the Government and the notes prepared for the Currency Board, there is also a change in the style of Arabic text used on the two different series. This indicates that Waterlow and Sons were not the printers of the new banknotes and it is believed that Thomas De La Rue and Company (TDLR) printed the notes of the Currency Board. However, during the period that the notes of the Currency Board were issued, the 25- and 50-piastre notes were produced in two varieties for each denomination. The second varieties were prepared by the American Bank Note Company (ABNC). It is probable that the notes prepared by the ABNC were ordered following representations by the ‘contingent of American experts’ who had gone to Khartoum to advise on establishing a central bank (see the extract above from Three-Monthly Economic Review – Egypt Libya Sudan – No.16 January 1957). In the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money the varieties of the 25-piastre note (Nos. 1A & 1B) and the 50-piastre note (Nos. 2A & 2B) are identified by the differing lengths of the third line of text that reads ‘Promises to pay the bearer on demand’ (in Arabic). However, this is an over-simplification of the varieties.

            When presented side by side, the two varieties of the 25-piastre note show marked differences. Variety No. 1A (by TDLR) has: a solid security thread; a serial number with a fractional prefix of a letter over a number followed by seven numerals (the first of which is always zero); lines representing clouds under the promissory clause; and the date and place of issue aligned with the signatures of the signatories. In contrast, variety No. 1B (by ABNC) has no security thread, but has planchettes embedded in the paper; it has a serial number with six numerals and a fractional prefix of two letters (one over the other); no lines for clouds, but it has a pattern as an under-print; and the date and place of issue are aligned with the titles of the signatories.

            This is by no means the end of the differences between the two varieties. The length of the third line of text in Arabic differs on each variety (as mentioned above) due to the size of the text used on each note, the guilloche surrounding the denomination on the front of the note is different, the length of the cartouche, or panel, above the signatures is of different lengths, the left hand signature is larger on the second variety, and the borders of the note have been redrawn. On the back of the note, there are differences in the illustration and while the first variety has a single diamond shape at each end of panel containing the denomination in English text, the second variety has two diamond shapes at each end. Closer inspection will reveal even further differences.

            Similar differences occur in the two varieties of the 50-piastre note, with the most noticeable differences being in the security thread, serial numbers, guilloche surrounding the denomination, and the panel holding the denomination in Arabic. However, the differences are as manifold as the differences described for the 25-piastre note.

            All banknotes issued by the Sudan Currency Board have several common features. These are:

                      The signatures of Mamoun Beheiry and Ibrahim Osman Ishag

                      The date of issue, printed on all notes, is 15 September 1956

                      A watermark of three palm trees is used on the 1-, 5- and 10-pound notes. The 25- and 50-piastre notes have no watermark

The notes of the Sudan Currency Board and their SCWPM catalogue numbers are:

No. 1A

25 piastres


Solid security thread.

No. 1B

25 piastres


No security thread; planchettes embedded in the paper.

No. 2A

50 piastres


Solid security thread.

No. 2B

50 piastres


No security thread; planchettes embedded in the paper.

No. 3

1 pound

No. 4

5 pounds

No. 5

10 pounds

For each denomination, the letter in the serial number is specific to the denomination. The 25-piastre has ‘A’ in the prefix, the 50-piastre note has ‘B’, the 1-pound note ‘C’, the 5-pound note ‘D’, and the 10-pound note has ‘E’.

            From the time of its inception, the Sudan Currency Board was considered a temporary institution. It was designed to fulfil the role of the currency authority until a central bank could be established. During the years that the Sudan Currency Board issued its banknotes, the National Bank of Egypt had continued to conduct central bank activities on behalf of the Sudan. Despite the changing political situation, where the military under General El Ferik Ibrahim Abboud seized power in 1958, plans for a central bank matured and on 1 December 1959 the ‘Bank of Sudan Act, 1959’ was promulgated. The Bank of Sudan subsequently began business on 22 February 1960 and the requirement for a currency board ceased. However, the banknotes of the Currency Board became the property of the central bank and continued to circulate for a number of years after the Bank of Sudan was established.

This article was completed in October 2002
© Peter Symes