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A 1 Piastre note from the Siege of Khartoum, £10,000 at Noonans.

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That appeal was tested as a group amassed by Australian collector Trevor Wilkin (1948-2022) came to the Mayfair auction house on May 30.

Comprising almost 200 notes, it featured items dating back to the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, through to the Boer War.

Pattison adds: “Most are printed on poor-quality paper never intended for this use, using cheap inks and jury-rigged printing machines. The majority were produced, and hand signed by men, very often soldiers, who certainly never imagined they would be issuing money simply to keep a town or fortification running during weeks, sometimes months, of desperation.

“Perhaps most humbling is the fact that many of those who signed the notes did not live to see beyond these sieges.”

Many of the notes were very rare or unique. Wilkin’s favourite was a 1 Piastre from the Siege of Khartoum. This small and unassuming note was believed to be the only example in private hands and bore witness to one of the most dramatic events in colonial African history. Dated April 25, 1884, it was hand signed by General Gordon.

It sold on the low estimate at £10,000.