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£5 note that was withdrawn only four years later through lack of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
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
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.