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1916 "Tabora" German East Africa 15 Rupien

1916 "Tabora" German East Africa  15 Rupien in UNC condition

Extremely rare and we are happy its a part of our stock.

  Commercial banking was introduced in German East Africa in 1905, when the Deutsch-Ostafrikanische Bank opened its office in Dar es Salaam. This bank had a concession from the German Government to issue its own notes and coins, which helped the bank to meet the demand for coins in exchange for its notes. In 1911, another German bank, the Handelsbank fuer Ostafrika, opened a branch in Tanga. Then came the first world war. The "Tabora Pound", a gold coin valued at 15 Rupees, was designed by mining industry expert Friedrich Schumacher at Tabora and weighs 6.8 gram (gold). It was minted in a temporary siege-mint by the Deutsch-Ostafrikanische Bank in an adapted train carriage at Tabora in 1916 following the fall of Germany's major port, Dar-es-Salaam, to the Allies during World War One. Tabora (thus the letter "T" under the date) was the centre of the Arab slave trade in the 1800s at the time of Livingstone and Stanley. The steam from the train to which the "mint carriage" was attached drove a palm oil press that was used to mint these unique high quality gold pieces.

   A less sophisticated minting device was used in Tabora to produce the brass 5 and 20 Heller coins. The Tabora Pound is, without doubt, the most beautiful wartime siege currency ever minted. The gold coins were needed to pay the native troops, for, as in South Africa they, wisely, did not trust paper bank notes. Vorbeck's goal was to give one of these gold coins to each member of this 15,000 native askari army. The minting was possible because of a small gold mine in operation not very far away from Tabora from which the gold used in the coins was mined. The coin features the king of the beasts, a triumphant elephant, trumpeting with Mount Kilimanjaro in the background and the date “1916 T” below, a Singhalese gold worker from Zanzibar made the dies after a model prepared by R. Vogt. The reverse features the German imperial eagle with the legend “Deutsch Ost Afrika” and the denomination of 15 Rupien. There are two varieties which can best be distinguished by the arabesque extending from the right wing of the German eagle. In the slightly rarer first variety, "type A", it ends under the “A” in “Afrika” (mintage 6,395), and in the second variety "type B", it ends under the “T” in “Ost” (mintage about 9,035).

  Due to the primitive nature of the conditions under which the coins were struck, the gold was a reddish gold, containing copper and silver, since these metals could not be refined out of the gold. Soon after their minting Tabora was occupied by allies' Belgian troops. Indian traders asked 200 rupies each for these coins - like the Veld Pond they were considered rare from the very beginning. Today the 15 Rupee gold coin coin fetches several thousand US dollars for a circulated one and much more for one in Unc. The price of these pieces has already risen by several hundred percent since 2000 and in late 2005 coins were being offered for sale for E10,000. Few of the coins actually went into general circulation, which in any account, would not have been longer than a couple of months when the Allies closed in on Tabora. Many of the coins were captured by the Allies when they finally took Tabora and these were either melted down or taken as war souvenirs by them - which accounts for the large number of pieces that remain in good condition (Extra Fine or, occasionally, almost Uncirculated and rarely Unc).

   It is a classical siege coin but reflects the German's innovation and demand for quality. When one compares the outcome with the earlier siege boer (S African gold Veld Pond, struck under much more difficult and trying conditions in the dying days of Afrikaaner independence, you can see why this 15 Rupien Gold coin has also become such a classic rarity. The detail is exquisite and design totally unique with the African symbol of power, the elephant, charging down its foes with complete abandon - a symbol flying in the face of the reality facing the Germans at that time. In the images of the two coins held by the Balson Holdings Family Trust you can see how the dies slowly degrade and, in the lower coin, the edges in particular start losing their crispness with the beads along the border disappearing. If this was a series of bank notes the top coin would be among the first struck (A series) and the bottom coin reflecting maybe a (G - or much later printing - Series). This piece in both its varieties is a "chariot" - ie great short term investment. Not long after it was struck the German army under von Lettow Vorbeck retreated south from the Allies and so began an amazing and historic game of wild goose chase - one that the Allies never won.