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Mafeking siege currency 7 years 4 months ago #10376

  • djb
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The following text is sourced from the Antiques Trade Gazette (author and date unknown).

Under Baden-Powell’s command, the besieged population of Mafeking published a morale-boosting newspaper, made stamps for the town mail and – as normal commerce broke down – issued their own banknotes.

Siege notes are among the most tangible survivors of the Mafeking ordeal.

They were printed on ordinary writing paper in five denominations of one, two, three and ten shillings and one pound from January to March 1900 in an underground shelter. The town auctioneer Edward Ross, who penned one of the many accounts of the siege, aided in the process. He noted: “I had a little signboard made, Mafeking Mint. No Admission.”

The simple one-, two- and three-shilling notes took the form of vouchers to be used in the canteens for a daily ration of hard-baked oat bread and horse meat. These lower-value notes carry a facsimile signature for the Army Paymaster, Captain H. Greener.

For obvious reasons these notes are the most commonly encountered, although the three-shilling note survives in lesser numbers.

In his memoirs, Baden-Powell recalled his personal input in the design of the ten-shilling and one-pound siege notes: “The design for the one-pound note I drew on a boxwood block, made from a croquet mallet cut in half, and this I handed to a Mr Riesle, who had done wood engraving. But the result [two rudimentary images of soldiers with cannon] was not satisfactory from the artistic point of view, so we used that as a ten-shilling note and I drew another design which was photographed for the pound note.”

Early issues of the ten-shilling note include a typographical error: Issued by authority of Col R.S.S. Baden-Powell, Comman[d]ing Frontier Forces.

The blue one-pound siege note, complete with Baden-Powell’s competent sketch of Rhodesian troops under the Union flag, was signed in ink by Robert Bradshaw Clarke Urry, the manager of the Mafeking branch of the Standard Bank of South Africa, and by Paymaster Greener who gave each issue of notes authority by depositing a cheque of an equivalent amount into the Standard Bank.

In total, more than £5,228 in notes and coupons was issued during the siege. However, little more than £638 worth of coupons were ever redeemed. The rest were kept as souvenirs or lost, and redemption of the notes ceased in September 1908.

Mr Ross was a prophetic fellow. “This note business is going to be a good thing for the Government as I am sure they will be worth much more than face value as curios after the siege, and people are collecting as many as they can get hold of now, to make money afterwards,” he wrote at the time.




Dr David Biggins
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Mafeking siege currency 7 years 4 months ago #10378

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This article from The Times on 27 Jul 1900, surprisingly early given the end of the siege, records the sales of some of the notes from Mafeking:

Dr David Biggins
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Mafeking siege currency 7 years 4 months ago #10379

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Assuredly expensive! :)

djb wrote: This article from The Times on 27 Jul 1900, surprisingly early given the end of the siege, records the sales of some of the notes from Mafeking:

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Mafeking siege currency 7 years 4 months ago #10380

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A statement made by Mr Bottomley in the Commons, 28 June 1910:

I was rather impelled to bring this matter forward today, because in a recent Report of the Public Accounts Committee to this House I find this paragraph under the heading "Mafeking Siege Notes":— "Included in the amount of the balances unsupported by adequate accounts is a sum of £4,590, recovered in the following exceptional circumstances from the 844 Standard Bank of South Africa. During the siege of Mafeking the supply of cash in the town ran short, and the Commanding Officer created a paper currency redeemable at the Mafeking branch of the bank on the restoration of civil law, of which notes and coupons to the value of £5,228 were issued. But after the relief of the town the notes and coupons were extensively bought as mementoes of the siege, and the paper presented for payment only amounted to £638, leaving a balance of £4,590 outstanding. Although civil law was resumed in 1902, no steps were taken to obtain an account of the actual sums paid by the bank until January, 1908, when the Paymaster brought the matter to the notice of the chief accountant of the South African Command, and negotiations were opened which resulted in the bank repaying the whole amount of the outstanding currencies."
Dr David Biggins

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Mafeking siege currency 7 years 4 months ago #10381

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Frank,

Indeed. Mafeking fever must still have been very strong in those early days?

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David
Dr David Biggins

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Mafeking siege currency 7 years 4 months ago #10383

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Hello David,
Yes, very strong, then as now! :)
Kind regards Frank

djb wrote: Frank,

Indeed. Mafeking fever must still have been very strong in those early days?

Regards
David

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