The Rare Griqua Een Pond bank note -
unissued (Fuld) Rarity Scale: R -8)
(the only indigenous South African currency introduced by a black tribe)

Extract from a report of a Commission appointed by his excellency the Governor and High Commissioner to inquire into the causes of the recent outbreak in Griqualand East (also known as G58 of 1879 (page 52), extract being from a letter signed by C P Watermeyer, D Strachan and Robert Richards (Commissioners):

 A scheme for the issue of many thousand pounds worth of blue-backs and good-fors, already sanctioned by Kaptyn and Raad, was stopped, and the blank forms printed at a cost of £100, consigned to the lumber room of the Umzimkulu magistrate (Donald Strachan) where they are still to be seen.  

NOTE: This historical bank note is far rarer than any other numismatic item associated with the Griquas including the Griqua Town coins. It preceded most other S African bank notes and the famous Burgerspond (it is far rarer than this gold coin by a ratio of 1:30). It's value has been totally underestimated - until recent times.

This extremely rare Griqua bank note (Government of New Griqualand - Gouvernement van Nieuw Griqualand) was never issued. Copies of the original note can only be found in the Rev William Dower's book "The Early Annals of Kokstad and East Griqualand" (published 1902). The Balson Holdings Family Trust owns two (2) copies of Dower's original book and several 1978 reprints by the Killie Campbell Library (Durban, Natal, South Africa) which are used for hands-on research purposes. There are only a handful of the original book and note, seen right, in existence, most are in museums like the Killie Campbell Library (University of Natal). The books in the Balson Holdings Family Trust collection have been secured after twenty five years of intensive search.

Image right: Two original copies of the book-bound notes in the Balson Holdings Family Trust collection

The words on the note translated say "For King, Law and People" (Pro Rege, Lege and Grege")... and "According to the resolution of the Right Honourable Volksraad, of the 5th November 1867, by which Government paper to an amount of ten thousand pounds sterling is issued under the Bond of all immovable property of the Government, this paper is compulsorily current for ten years from the 1st January 1868 and will, after the expiration of that time, be redeemable to the extent of five thousand pounds sterling per annum."  

On page 129 of "The Early Annals of Kokstad and East Griqualand" Rev W Dower thanks "D Strachan Esq for the blank paper money...."  (NOTE: the 1978 Killie Campbell reprint of the book has a worthless black and white facsmilie of the note originally carried in the 1902 book).

In Dower's book he also records on page 17: "They (the Griquas) decided to issue paper money, actually had it printed, but never issued it." For a man who was so intimately tied with the Griquas of Nomansland his curt description  fails to address what Ken Strachan told Scott Balson when he was researching the history of the S&Co tokens and probably emphasises his frustration with some of the decisions made by Kok's Raad.Ken Strachan told Scott Balson that his grand father Donald Strachan, as the Magistrate in Umzimkulu, personally intervened and prevented the Griquas of East Griqualand from introducing this one pound note in 1868. The Griqua Raad (government) were frustrated by the highly unsatisfactory system of barter forced on the people because there was absolutely no currency in this isolated region. Strachan convinced the Griqua Raad that there was no financial basis on which to support their expensive but delusional exercise approved by the Raad so the idea was scrapped. Ken Strachan said that Donald Strachan gave Dower an estimated 100 of the bank notes for his very limited edition book before he destroyed  the balance of them by burning them in a fire. In the Killie Campbell Africana Library reprint of Dower's book "The Early Annals of Kokstad and East Griqualand" the researchers confirm the fact of Donald Strachan's intervention on page 137 when they note that, 10,000 one pound notes were printed in Cape Town with "Nieuw Griqualand" on them; never issued; they were kept in the Magistrate's Office (Strachan) at Umzimkulu. The reference of Cape Parliament Papers G.58-1879, p52, is given. (see shaded block below)... Strachan promised Adam Kok that he would look for an alternative to the bank notes. A few years later he came out with his own coinage - backed by sound assets (the goods at his store) and inspired by the success of the 1860 Durban Club pieces. It was a stroke of marketing genius as the indigenous trade token currency was accepted far and wide across Nomansland, including major banks, for nearly sixty years as the name of Strachan and Co was as good as a bank in this region.

Ironically Dower's book was put to the torch as well by the Griquas soon after its publication. Dower stored them in a cupboard in the Griqua Church - but fell foul of his congregation because of some of the controversial comments he made about them. The books were burned on the steps of the church -  see the image to the right. As a result of this action very few of the 1902 books survive today.

More images of the Griqua Church at Kokstad at this link

According to Krause, in their 2005 catalogue of bank notes, a few of the notes not put in the book survived the fire but were cut and marked cancelled. These cut and cancelled notes are valued at $1,000 in VF condition, while the undamaged Griqua notes in the book are simply recorded as RARE. Each copy of Dower's1902 book held by the Balson Holdings Family Trust is conservatively valued at over US$10,000 - none are for sale.

Click on the image below to see a screen-sized image and the original owners of the books now held in the Balson Holdings Family Trust.

Top row: Three original copies of Dower's book in the Balson Holdings Family Trust collection - all containing the original Griqua Pond bank note in uncirculated condition (red book re-bound, centre book and book on right in original soft cover binding),
Bottom row: Two copies of the Killie Campbell 1978 reprint of Dower's book with several additional pages of copious notes and commentary as well as a facsimile of the bank note carried in the original publication.

NOTE: As of October 2006 several copies of the out-of-print Killie Campbell reprint were available from about US$50 through the Internet.

A copy of the unissued Griqua note is also in the original books held by the Killie Campbell library in Durban, Natal; the University of Cape Town's Oppenheimer Library and the South African Museum. The Kokstad Museum have three original copies of Dower's book (2006) - image right Milner Snell Chair of the Kokstad Museum outside the Kokstad Museum.

How much is the note worth?

A rare note taken out of Dower's book (see pinholes at top) was listed on eBay in February 2005 with a starting bid of US$1,625 and sold for US$1,801 (this is the first time we have seen the note listed for sale anywhere - including the Internet for many, many years). Archive of the listing after the close of the auction at this link. We had previously been reliably informed about a person in Johannesburg who heard about Dower's original 1902 book being for sale who bought the book and then in front of the shocked staff member ripped the book apart so that he could get the note saying that "this is all I am interested in". The buyer discarded the rest of the pages of the book into a rubbish bin. I hope and pray that this in not the note - but with so few around it could well be!   

Image right of the een pond Griqua note offered on sale on eBay courtesy of Eastgate Universal Stamps & Coins in Johannesburg

In April 2005 a very badly damaged note with pieces missing and badly marked by tape holding it together went on auction at a reserve of Eur300.

Copies of the note intact in Dower's 1902 book are worth at least US$10,000 - the lack of sellers has meant that this price has never been tested.

Value in 2005: The Griqua £1 Bank Note is very highly sought after - the Unc notes in Dower's book are valued at US$10,000.
Never seen on auction.

[1815/16 Griqua Town "coins"] [1860: Durban Club 6d] [1862 Durban Bank £5 Bank Note] [1868: Griqua £1 Bank Note]
[1874: Mount Currie Express Stamp] [1874/1932: Strachan and Co Currency Tokens] [1876 Pietermaritzburg Franklin Penny]
[Other E Griqualand Tokens] [1870s Griqua Town Patterns] [1890: Griqua Patterns] [Other Serious Griqua Coin Collectors]
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