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A History of The Gambian Dalasi
 
 History Page    Page 2     Money
 
Introduction:
Up until the mid 19th century the accepted legal tender as a medium of exchange in The Gambia was payment using Cowrie Shells. The earliest forms of currency were 'coins' made of copper or brass rods and sometimes metal tokens.

Early Legal Tender:
By 1880 coins made of silver, predominantly in the shape of French 5 Franc monetary units, were in widespread circulation. In 1892 the African Banking Corporation was established in Lagos, Nigeria, and one of the Bank’s functions was to supply West African countries with new British coins and remove old silver coins from the monetary supply and send them back to the UK. In 1894 these functions were given to the Bank of British West Africa.

Notes & Coins
In 1912 a committee was set up to examine possible ways of establishing a more consistent currency and to establish policies for the future. In 1915 the committee that had now become the West African Currency Board, updated its established constitution to allow it to issue bank notes. The proposal was put forward that currency notes be issued to each West African colony but that these should be "under the authority of the Currency Board in London". The notes were to be the same design but bearing the differentiating mark of each issuing office. This system stayed in place until 1949. Although a  1 penny and 1 /10th of a penny coin had been issued from 1907, and a 1/2 penny from 1911, the French 5 Franc silver piece was still in widespread use The Gambia. In 1913 a 3 penny, 6 penny, 1 Shilling and Florin coin were introduced into the country's general cash circulation. An order was thus placed with the London printers, Waterlow & Sons Ltd., for 2 shilling, 10 shilling and £1 banknotes. These entered circulation in The Gambia towards the end of 1917. With the exception of the 2 shilling note, the reception was generally favorable. The following year when a 1 shilling note was printed by the Bank of England it was also found to be as unpopular as the 2 shilling. The year 1919 marked the issue of a £5 note that was withdrawn only four years later through lack of popularity. It was not until 1954 that this note was reissued in The Gambia

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Independence:
The Gambia gained internal self-government in October 1963 and on the orders of the West African Currency Board an order for notes was lodged with a company called Bradbury Wilkinson & Co. Ltd. for 10 shilling, £1 and £5 notes.

These were put into issue only four days after the new currency ordinance, that formed The Gambia Currency Board, came into force 1st October 1964.

On the 18th February 1965 The Gambia Currency Board issued its own coinage, produced by the Royal Mint, to replace the West African Currency Board coins, on 21st November 1966. The values remained the same although the 1 tenth and 1/2 penny coins were not issued, whilst a 4 Shilling piece went into circulation. An 8 shilling coin was subsequently struck in 1970.

The Introduction of The Dalasi:
The dalasi was adopted in 1971. It replaced the Gambian pound at a rate of 1 pound = 5 dalasi, i.e., 1 dalasi = 0.2 pound = 4 shillings. In 1971, coins in 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 Bututs and 1 dalasi were introduced. The reverse designs of the three higher denominations were taken from the corresponding denominations of the previous currency (1, 2 and 4 shillings), with the reverse designs for the lower three coins coming from the 6, 1 and 3 pence coins, respectively.

Banknotes currently in circulation are 5, 10, 25, 50, and 100 Dalasis. 1 dalasi notes were issued between 1971 and 1987.

The assets and liabilities of The Gambia Currency Board were vested in 1971, in the Central Bank Of The Gambia. That same year the currency was decimalised on the basis of 1 Dalasi = 100 Bututs. The coins were minted by the Royal Mint. The notes of 1, 5, 10 and 25 Dalasi denominated were printed by Bradbury Wilkinson & Co. Ltd. With the royal effigy being replaced by the portrait of H. E. The President of the Republic of The Gambia on both the notes and the coin.

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the country's independence a new 10 Dalasi coin was introduced into general circulation in 1975.

A new 1 dalasi coins were introduced in 1987, based on the 50 pence coin of the United Kingdom.

On July 27, 2006 new banknotes were issued with similar designs but with security upgrades in order to frustrate the attempts of counterfeiters.

On April 16, 2009, the Central Bank issued into circulation new D5 and D10 banknotes. The new notes bearing the signatures of Governor Saho and First Deputy Governor Njai, are a reprint of the current design banknotes.

The design and features of these banknotes are similar to the current family of freshly designed banknotes introduced in 2006. The new D5 and D10 banknotes will circulate side by side with the current existing banknotes. All current existing banknotes continue to be legal tender.

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Cowrie shell photos by Padburyphotos
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