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Value of Old Banknotes From Zanzibar

Value of Banknotes from Zanzibar

It doesn’t matter if you don’t know where Zanzibar is, just know that all banknotes from Zanzibar are rare and valuable. Prices start at a couple thousand dollars and go up from there based on the denomination and condition (aka grade) of each piece of currency. It is not unusual to see attractive banknotes sell for more than $10,000. Now that we have established that currency from Zanzibar is rare and expensive, most people want to know why. The quickest answer here is supply and demand. Paper money from Zanzibar was printed in small quantities and there are probably less than 500 survivors known to exist from all denominations and years combined.

There are also several different types of collectors buying money from Zanzibar. In no particular order you have: collectors of African banknotes, collectors of money denominated in Rupees, collectors of former British colonies, collectors who want a bank note from every country, then you have the people looking to put together an A to Z country set. Outside of that you have the handful of collectors just focusing on Zanzibar alone. That is why we can frequently offer so much money for any currency from Zanzibar. It is on a lot of want lists. Our guide below has pictures and a little more information about each bank note that Zanzibar printed. Please contact us directly if you would like an appraisal or an offer on your money.

Zanzibar Banknotes - January 1st 1908

Zanzibar first printed paper money in 1908. For years Zanzibar was a stopping point for travelers from across Africa, Europe, and Asia. One can only imagine all of the different currencies that would have traded hands on a daily basis. There is no question that it was a point of pride for the citizens of Zanzibar to finally have their own currency in 1908. There were five different denominations printed by Zanzibar in 1908. Images can be seen below.

Zanzibar Banknotes - 1st August 1916

The same five denominations that had previously been issued in 1908 were re-dated and issued again for the August 1st 1916 series. Some bank notes are also dated 1st September 1916. Each series is valued the same. All of these are very rare. It would take some time and lots of money to put together a denomination set. Most collectors aren't very concerned about the year. Denomination and condition is much more important.

Zanzibar Banknotes - 1st September 1920

This is a really odd year in terms of paper money issuances for Zanzibar. I can only assume they were happy with their middle denominations, so they decided to add one denomination higher and lower. So we have a one rupee bank note and a five hundred rupee bank note. The designs pretty much stayed the same. They just changed the colors. The 500 rupee note is the rarest bank note from Zanzibar.

Zanzibar Banknotes - 1st February 1928

Zanzibar last printed its own currency in 1928. The output was limited to five, ten, and twenty rupee bank notes. These are still extremely scarce. However, due to the fact that these were the last printed, they also tend to be the first saved. That means if you want a piece of paper from Zanzibar in nice condition for a relatively affordable price, you will probably have to buy something from the 1928 series.


We have paid exceedingly high prices for many bank notes from Zanzibar. If you are considered selling your currency, then you will definitely want our offer before making your decision. Send us some pictures via email and we will tell you what we can offer.