The first Anglo-Palestine bank series

Banknotes and coins are not only means of payment, they are also a symbol of sovereignty. When the Fathers of the Yishuv [Jewish leadership in Mandatory Palestine] were engaged in establishing the new state, one of the matters they had to deal with was its currency. As the name of the new state had not been decided, the question arose as to what would be printed on the banknotes.

The banknotes could not be printed in Palestine as the British Mandate had not yet expired, and also for lack of the required technical expertise. At the same time it was clear that no reputable foreign firm would print money for a nonexistent state. After considerable effort, Mr. S. Hoofien, then Chairman of the Board of the Anglo-Palestine Bank, persuaded the American Banknote Company of New York to print the banknotes.

One Palestine pound
The Anglo-Palestine Bank Limited
enlargement and description

To obviate the need for State Department approval for printing banknotes of a foreign country, the notes as ordered gave no indication of their being legal tender. (The legend "Legal tender for payment of any amount" was subsequently overprinted). In addition, the company stipulated that its name should not appear on the notes.

The design of the banknotes was based on different combinations of ornamental borders in the company's stock, some of which were used for printing banknotes for China! When the banknotes were ordered, no one yet knew what the name of the new state would be, let alone its currency. It was therefore decided to print "Palestine Pound" on the notes, the currency of the mandate.

The banknotes reached Israel secretly in July 1948. On August 17 the government passed a law declaring the notes legal tender, and they were put into circulation on the following day.

Bank Leumi le-Israel series

One Israel pound
Bank Leumi le-Israel B.M.
enlargement and description

On May 1, 1951 all the assets and liabilities of the Anglo Palestine Bank were transferred to a new company called Bank Leumi le-Israel BM, and it therefore became necessary to issue a new series of banknotes. These were almost identical to the Anglo-Palestine Bank series, except that the color of some of the notes was different. The name of the currency was the "Israeli Pound."

The new money was introduced in June 1952, along with a 10 percent compulsory loan levied on cash holdings and current accounts.

From August 17, 1948 One Israeli pound = 1000 mils
From December 24, 1948 One Israeli pound = 1000 prutot
From January 1, 1960 One Israeli pound = 100 agorot
From February 24, 1980 One shekel (IS) = 10 Israeli pounds
One shekel (IS) = 100 new agorot
One new agora = 10 agorot
From September 4, 1985 One new shekel (NIS) = 100 agorot
One new shekel (NIS) = 1000 shekalim
One agora = 10 shekalim


Texts and illustrations courtesy of Bank of Israel

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