Search articles

The Banknotes of North America: The Bahamas

-

The Bahamas, a chain of nearly 700 islands southeast of Florida in the North Atlantic Ocean, is home to an estimated 332,600 people. In 1492 Christopher Columbus made landfall at the island of Guanahani, which he renamed San Salvador (meaning “Holy Savior” in Spanish) and claimed the lands for Castile his native Spain. The Bahamas, its name derived from “baja mar” or “shallow sea” in Spanish, became a pirate haven in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, until Great Britain colonized the islands in 1718. Full independence from the British Crown was attained in 1973, with Nassau – named in honor of King William III of England – serving as the capital of The Bahamas. As a member of the British Empire, The Bahamas used the Pound monetary system up until 1965, when they converted to the Dollar system.

Below are the separate issues of banknotes from The Bahamas:

Bank of Nassau

Undated (Ca. 1870s) 10 Shillings by Charles Skipper & East; courtesy of Heritage Auctions www.ha.com. Click image to enlarge.

- Undated (circa 1870s) issue consisting of 5 Shillings, 10 Shillings, and 1 Pound printed by Charles Skipper & East, England; these notes feature a portrait of Queen Victoria on the face, and intricate lathwork on the back.

- 1897-1902 issue consisting of 5 Shillings and 1 Pound; these notes feature a seal of a ship at left and a portrait of a man at right, all issues are uniface.

- 1906-1917 issue consisting of 4 Shillings and 1 Pound printed by Charles Skipper & East, England; the face of these notes feature a seal of a ship at left and a portrait of a man at right like the prior issue, except these are much higher in print quality and the backs have elaborate lathwork.

Public Treasury, Nassau

- 1868-1869 issue consisting of 1 Pound; these notes feature a Treasury seal at the upper left but the entire rest of the note is text.

Bahamas Government

- 1869 issue consisting of 1 Pound and 5 Pounds printed by Major & Knapp, New York; much like the Public Treasury notes mentioned above, these notes are all text except for a Treasury seal at the upper left, there is, however, an elaborately designed border.

Bahamas Law of 1919 4 Shillings; courtesy of Heritage Auctions www.ha.com. Click image to enlarge.

- Law of 1919 issue consisting of 4 Shillings, 10 Shillings, and 1 Pound; there are also two 4 Shillings issues – the first comes from an unknown printer, the rest of the notes were printed by Canadian Bank Note Company, Canada. The first 4 Shillings issue is plain in design with a ship seal at right, whereas all of the other issues are elaborate designs featuring a donkey cart at left, a ship seal in the center, and bushes at right on the face, and intricate lathwork on back.

- Law of 1919 (circa 1930) issue consisting of 4 Shillings, 10 Shillings, and 1 Pound printed by Waterlow & Sons Ltd., (England); these notes all feature a ship seal at left, King George V at right on face, and arms on the back, each denomination is in a different colored ink.

Bahamas Law of 1936 5 Pounds; courtesy of Heritage Auctions www.ha.com. Click image to enlarge.

- Law of 1936 issue consisting of 4 Shillings, 10 Shillings, 1 Pound, and 5 Pounds printed by Thomas de La Rue, London; these notes all feature a ship seal at left, a watermark of Columbus at center, and King George VI at right on face, and arms on back; except the 5 Pounds note which has the ship seal omitted and just as above each denomination is in a different colored ink.

- Law of 1936 (1953) issue consisting of 4 Shillings, 10 Shillings, 1 Pound, and 5 Pounds printed by Thomas de La Rue, London; these notes all feature the familiar ship seal at left, Queen Elizabeth II at right on face, and arms on back; each denomination is in a different colored ink.

- Law of 1965 issue consisting of $½ (50 Cents), $1, $3, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 printed by Thomas de La Rue, London; these notes all feature Queen Elizabeth II at left on face, and various artistic scenes on the back, each denomination has a different back.

Bahamas Monetary Authority

Bahamas Law of 1974 $20; courtesy of Heritage Auctions www.ha.com. Click image to enlarge.

- Law of 1968 issue consisting of $½ (50 Cents), $1, $3, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 printed by Thomas de La Rue, London; these notes are all similar in design to the previous issue, the only difference being the ink colors used.

Central Bank of The Bahamas

- Law of 1974 issue consisting of $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 printed by Thomas de La Rue, London; these notes are also all similar in design to the previous issue, the only difference being the ink colors used.

- Law of 1974 (1984) issue consisting of $½ (50 Cents), $1, $3, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 printed by Thomas de La Rue, London; these notes all feature a more mature portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the face and various scenes or artwork on the back.

Bahamas 1992 Christopher Columbus $1; courtesy of Heritage Auctions www.ha.com. Click image to enlarge.

- Law of 1974 (1992) Commemorative issue consisting of $1, printed by Canadian Bank Note Company. These notes depict Christopher Columbus at right on face and various animals on the back along with the fleet of Columbus and a map of The Bahamas. These notes were issued to commemorate the Quincentennial of the First Landfall of Columbus (1492-1992) at San Salvador Island.

- Law of 1974 (1992-1995) issue consisting of $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, printed by British American Banknote Company. Queen Elizabeth II is featured on the face of the $1, $10, $50, and $100; Sir Cecil Wallace-Whitfield is on the $5 and Sir Milo B. Butler is seen on the $20. The backs are consistent with earlier issues depicting a different scene or artwork on each denomination.

- Series 1996 issue consisting of $1, $10, $50, and $100 printed by British American Banknote Company. These notes all depict a mature portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the face and the backs are consistent with previous issues of the same denominations.

- Series 1997, 2000, 2001, Law of 1974 issue consisting of $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 printed by Thomas de La Rue, London. Queen Elizabeth II is featured on the $100, but each other denomination shows a Bahamian political figure on the face, and the backs all depict the same scenes seen on previous issues of the same denominations.

- Law of 2000, Series 2001 issue consisting of $½ (50 Cents) and $1 printed by Thomas de La Rue, London. The $½ (50 Cents) note depicts Queen Elizabeth II on the face and Sister Sarah at Nassau Market on the back. The $1 features a portrait of 1st Prime Minister of The Bahamas, Sir Lynden O. Pindling on the face, and a police band is on the back, which is consistent with prior issues of the $1.

- Law of 2000, Series 2002 issue consisting of $1 printed by Thomas de La Rue, London. The $1 has a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the face and the police band on the back as depicted on prior $1 issues.

- Law of 2000, Series 2005-2015 issue consisting of $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 printed by multiple different printers across the different denominations. Queen Elizabeth II can be seen on the face of the Series 2005 $10 and the $100. The other denominations (and series of $10) each depict a Bahamian political figure, the backs all depict the same scenes seen on previous issues of the same denominations.

Reverse of Series 2019 $50 depicting Central Bank Building; courtesy of Bank Note Museum http://banknote.ws. Click image to enlarge.

- Series 2016-2019 issue consisting of $½ (50 Cents), $1, $3, $10, $20, and $50 printed by multiple different printers across the different denominations. These notes feature a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, a flower, and a map of the outline of The Bahamas on the face of the $½ (50 Cents), and $3; Bahamian political figures are again seen on the remaining denominations similar to previous issues. All backs are similar in theme to prior issues, but they are printed to be viewed vertically.

Stretching from the 1870s up to modern times, the banknotes issued by The Bahamas has great variety in the persons and artwork depicted.

Sources:
  • Bank Note Museum, banknote.ws
  • Cuhaj, George S. Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, Various Editions. Krause Publications.
  • The World Factbook, CIA.gov

Currency