SINCONA Auction 25
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5 Lek/1 Frank Ar/1 Franco Oro Not dated (1926). Obverse: Green background frame, in front on left and right, richly decorated cornucopiae, from which flowers and fruits pour out. In the middle the name of the bank in Albanian and Italian language, as well as the signatures of the bank president and secretary. Below, a brown shield of arms with eagle looking left with open wings. Reverse: Brown, adorned frame of leaves with denominations in the corners. In the middle the denomination in Albanian. Below, the printer's name: Officina carte valori Richter & c. Napoli. 5.00 g. Gavello 93. Pick 1a. Of the highest rarity. -II. The bank note is lightly folded and has a minor discolouration on the reverse rim.
This, the first Albanian bank note was printed in Italy in connection with the founding of the Albanian Central Bank 1926, that had its seat in Rome and not in Tirana. Because President Achmed Zogu absolutely depended on the loyalty of the local Albanian tribal leaders in order to guarantee the stability of the young state of Albania, he did not dare to duly participate the large landowners in the financial budget by means of a new tax system. He needed to cover the financial needs of Albania by means of foreign credits, especially from Italy. That the major creditors of the central bank were above all the Fascist controlled Italian Foreign Exchange Department, was hardly known to the Albanians.
Not only that 4/5 of Albania's exports were delivered to Italy across the Adriatic Sea, the Mussolini government also obtained the rights to prospect for oil in the small country and was also responsible for the military safety. One can speak of an extreme dependancy.
In course, the printing of the bank note lay in the competence of the Italians and this explains the concise arms with the eagle on the obverse of the bank note. Shortly after the issue of the 1 Frank Ar note, President Zogu was informed of the aspect that the conspicuous emblem on the bank note, the Roman eagle as symbol, prominently represented faschist Italy. It is recorded that the indignant Zogu immediately ordered the bank note out of circulation.
According to the figures of the Albanian Central Bank this order was carried out quickly and thoroughly. While 113'000 such notes were in circulation in January 1927, only 6'000 notes were in circulation at the end of the year. And probably the figure grew even smaller in short time. The withdrawn notes were probably immediately destroyed. These circumstances explain why the first bank note of Albania is so extremely rare.