Imperial Banknotes of Persia Published

New York, NY
March 2, 2016

The American Numismatic Society Publishes The Banknotes of the Imperial Bank of Persia

The American Numismatic Society is delighted to offer The Banknotes of the Imperial Bank of Persia, by Michael E. Bonine. This hardcover, 148-page book is a study of this first bank in Iran to issue banknotes and attempt to establish a modern banking system, and the rivalry between Britain and Russia for influence and control of the Imperial Bank of Persia.

Although having issued the largest banknotes for any nation, there are very few remaining specimens, especially of the earliest notes and those of higher denominations from the Imperial Bank of Persia. An elaborate system of branch banks evolved, and the banknotes were printed stamped as payable only for the issuing branch. Few researchers have examined the subject in detail, and general references often have inaccurate information. This study by Michael Bonine attempts to fill in some of the gaps and includes an analysis of several hundred lower-denomination banknotes.

Professor Jere L. Bacharach, ANS Trustee and Fellow, served as an editor for The Banknotes of the Imperial Bank of Persia, and provided the following background on the author:

Michael Edward Bonine, an active member of the University of Arizona’s departments of Near Eastern Studies (Chair, 2001–11) and Geography, and founding director of Arizona’s School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies (2011) passed away on December 21, 2011 of complications from intestinal cancer. Born in 1942, Mike attended the University of Texas, Austin, where he received his PhD in Geography. The focus of his dissertation was the Iranian city of Yazd, which he first visited in the late 1960s, having driven a Land Rover there from London with his wife Marilyn. His love of travel and his reputation for the breadth of his intellectual interests and for the quality of his work as a scholar as well as a photographer of human and physical geography were established from that first trip to the Middle East.

There was another side to Mike that most colleagues did not know: he was an avid, aggressive collector of Middle Eastern banknotes. He would fly to conventions of banknote collectors, follow sales on eBay, and visit dealers in cities where the Middle East Studies Association, an organization he served as Executive Director (1982–89), convened its annual meetings. Mike had an eye for quality pieces and spared no effort to acquire the specimens he wanted. In the end he turned his hobby into a scholarly activity as he systematically collected banknotes of the Imperial Bank of Persia and then produced a manuscript on them. The resulting American Numismatic Society publication is his work for which I did minor editing.

By undertaking extensive research, particularly in London, and painstaking examination of the 18 denominations printed for the 28 branches of the Imperial Bank of Persia, Mike was able to understand the Imperial Bank’s coding system and identify which specimens were printed for which cities and in what quantities. He was also able to track down some imitations and even stolen items as part of his careful research, which is now published. For anyone interested in the banknotes of the Imperial Bank of Persia (1889–1929) and a look inside Persian banking, this work is an essential, one-of-a-kind reference.

The Banknotes of the Imperial Bank of Persia is available for purchase on the ANS website.

Please direct questions and comments to Andrew Reinhard, ANS Director of Publications, at areinhard@numismatics.org.

The American Numismatic Society, organized in 1858 and incorporated in 1865 in New York State, operates as a research museum under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and is recognized as a publicly supported organization under section 170(b)(1)(A)(vi) as confirmed on November 1, 1970.

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