The Many Varieties of West African States Banknotes

                                                                            Weldon D. Burson

  Author’s Note: This article, originally co-authored by Bob Lahre, first appeared in the I.B.N.S. Journal, Vol. 30, 1991.  I
  have periodically updated it over the past 13 years to the point that it bears little resemblance to the original document.
  Some of the data I so laboriously researched is now easily available on the BCEAO webpage ( http://www.bceao.int ), but most
  of it is not.  I am getting on in years and my collection is sufficiently complete that I may decide to dispose of it some time
  soon.  Therefore, I felt it best to offer the information herein for current and future collectors.  Any questions or
  corrections will be gladly received.  wburson@earthlink.net
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

     Banknotes issued by the Central Bank of the West African States (BCEAO) cover a period of only 46 years, yet they are
surely one of the world's most complex series.  They contain issues for nine different countries, at least 33 different signature
combinations, several different printing methods, and numerous date varieties.  Soon after I started collecting West African
notes it became apparent that catalog listings were seriously incomplete.  At almost every banknote show I found signature or
date varieties which were unreported.  As a result, I embarked on a project to list all known BCEAO issues.  That project is
still in progress - and of course can never end since new issues continue to come out every year.  From the 200+ varieties
listed in PICK1 in 1989, the list has expanded to over 1000 in 2005.  About half of the additions are pre-1989 varieties
which either existed in collections without being catalogued or have been discovered during the past 16 years.
1 The standard catalogue for banknote collectors is World Paper Money published by Krause Publications of Iola, WI.  It is usually referred to
as the "Pick Catalogue" and notes are given a "Pick number" as attribution to the original author.

     An integral part of the original article was a chart showing all confirmed varieties of BCEAO notes.  These are now
listed in PICK.  However, the PICK listings are not conducive to showing the complexity of varieties issued or those not yet
discovered.  I would thus urge readers to consult either the list at the end of this article or the charts available in Roger Leclerc’s
book Les Billets Africains de la Zone Franc2.  I try to keep the listings up to date, but collectors should be aware that some
older varieties are likely to surface for years to come.  Photocopies or scans of any varieties not listed are certainly welcome.
2 This is the definitive book on French African notes.  See my review in the I.B.N.S. Journal, Vol. 40, #1, 1999.


BCEAO Headquarters in Dakar.  Most BCEAO offices are of avant-garde architecture.

BCEAO Background and Operations

    The BCEAO was established April 4, 1959 by the Government of France to provide a continuing emissions authority for
West African colonies soon to become independent.  It succeeded the Institut d'Emission de l'A.O.F. et du Togo which had
taken over emissions responsibility from the Banque de l'AfriqueOccidentale in 1955.  The Banque de l'Afrique Occidentale
had held responsibility for monetary emission in the area since 1903 when it succeeded the Banque du Senegal.  Its issues
are among the most colorful and sought-after by the collecting community.

    The BCEAO was intended to operate under the umbrella of the French-African Community (Communaute
Franco-Africaine) which accompanied the formation of the Fifth French Republic in 1958.  Several West African members,
however, declined to ratify the Community arrangement.  Subsequent bilateral and multilateral agreements were negotiated
which led in 1962 to the formation of the West African Monetary Union (UMOA).  Of necessity, the BCEAO functioned as a
de facto emissions authority from 1959 until 1962.  Since 1962 it has operated as a public multilateral entity under the
UMOA.3  Its charter was revised in 1973 to provide greater African control over bank operations.  Member countries
are Cote d'Ivoire, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo, and Guinea-Bissau. Mauritania was a member until
1972; Mali left the BCEAO in 1962 but rejoined in 1984. Guinea-Bissau joined in 1997. Guinea, which was part of the
original French West Africa colonial grouping, opted out of the economic union from the outset.
3 The best source I have found for this complex evolution of the bank is Hubert Gerardin's La Zone Franc, 1989, Editions L'Harmattan, Paris.
A more detailed and personal account can be found in Robert Julienne’s Vingt Ans d’Institutions Monetaires Ouest-Africaines, 1988, Editions
L’Harmattan, Paris.

    From 1959 until 1973, the BCEAO was headed by a French Directeur General, Robert Julienne.  Following the 1973
reforms, an African director, AbdoulayeFadiga, was named and his title changed to Gouvernour. Fadiga died in June 1988
and was replaced by Alassane Ouattara.  Charles Konan Banny succeeded Ouattara in 1994 when the latter became Prime
Minister of Cote d'Ivoire.  Banny himself has recently been named Prime Minister of Cote d'Ivoire, but has not yet resigned as
Governor. An informal understanding has existed up to now that the head of the bank will be from Cote d'Ivoire. Other countries
are now challenging this agreement and want the position to be rotated.  Cote d'Ivoire leaders are resisting and the bank's
leadership is currently in limbo.  Bank headquarters were transferred from Paris to Dakar in 1979.  National offices are located
in each of the eight capitals with 15 branches in other major cities.

    While the operations of the bank are largely autonomous, general policy direction is provided by a Conseil des Ministres
consisting of two ministers (the Finance Minister plus one other) from each member country.  The presidency of this Council
of Ministers rotates alphabetically among member countries every two years.  Since some countries change ministers
frequently, there have been instances where a country has provided two or even three different Council Presidents during a
two-year turn. The signature of the President du Conseil des Ministres appears on BCEAO banknotes along with that of
the Gouverneur (or previously Directeur General).  The high turnover rate for the Council Presidency has resulted in a
proliferation of signature combinations with the current (2005) version being number 33.

    The BCEAO provides a common currency, the CFA franc, for all member countries.4  A code letter on each note identifies
the country for which it was issued.  These code letters are as follows: "A" Cote d'Ivoire, "B" Benin, "C" Burkina Faso, "D"
Mali, "E" Mauritania, "H" Niger, "K" Senegal, "S" Guinea-Bissau, and "T" Togo.5  Most notes in circulation carry the local
code letter, but those issued in other countries are often available and fully valid.  With the exception of BCEAO officials
and specialized banknote collectors, few people are even aware of the code letter system.
4 While notes for French Africa have always been denominated in francs, the term “CFA franc” was adopted in 1945 to signify francs of the
“Colonies Francais d’Afrique.” This was changed in 1958 to francs of the “Communaute Franco- Africain” and again in 1962 to francs of the
“Communaute Financiere Africaine.”
5 The rationale behind this original assigning of code letters has apparently been lost. I have been unable to find a BCEAO official who can
offer an explanation. The first five letters clearly were assigned alphabetically: Cote d'Ivoire, Dahomey, Haute Volta, Mali, Mauritania; but then
Niger appears to have rejected “F” (perhaps associating it with “France”) and the order broke down.

    Monetary emission in the BCEAO countries is centrally controlled by bank headquarters in Dakar.  Each year the Director
of Emissions places orders with the Bank of France for new notes based on headquarters calculations of circulation needs in
each country.  While all denominations are usually ordered for each country, occasionally one or more will not be
needed. (See, for example, the absence of a number of 5000/10000 franc varieties for Togo.)  The BCEAO has records on
orders placed, but it does not keep track of all the date and signature information on the notes it receives and places in
circulation.  The Bank of France is believed to have such information, but does not make it available to the public.


This Mali 5000 francs (P404D) is one of the rarest of West African issues.

Notes Issued by the BCEAO

    Through 2004, there have been four basic series of BCEAO notes.   Notes of the first two series (and of the colonial
period) continued to be valid until 2002 when they were demonetized after a year’s advance notice.  As a result of extensive
counterfeiting and robbery of two BCEAO offices in Cote d'Ivoire, the third series ceased to be valid at the end of 2004.

1) The 1959 series consists of 50, 100, 500, 1000, and 5000 franc denominations.  The 50 francs had only the initial 1959
printing, and the 100 francs was discontinued in 1965.  Early issues (1959-65) of this series carry a date in the bottom
center.  Subsequent versions are undated (ND).  The code letter on these notes is located following the block number6 at
upper right and lower left.  Signatures are usually located in the center of the face of the notes, but at times on the left side.
6 Block numbers (numeros de tirage) were an anti-counterfeiting device used on French-printed notes which permitted confirmation of the serial number; they are usually found in the upper right corner. They consist of a letter and several numbers (e.g. R.34).  Unfortunately the block number letter is sometimes mistaken for a country code letter.


The block-number letter is sometimes confused with the country code letter.  This note (P503Eg) was issued
for Mauritania, not Cote d’Ivoire.

2) The second series started in 1977 with new 5000 and 10000 franc notes; new designs came out for the 500 francs in 1979
and for the 1000 francs in 1981.  The 500, 1000, 5000 denominations have the date and code letter together (e.g. 1985 K) in
the upper right corner.  The 10000 franc notes are undated, but the code letters are in the same location.  Signatures remain on
the front center of the notes.  In this series, a number of dates exist with more than one signature combination, such as the
1992 5000 francs which can be found with signatures 22, 23, or 24.


The second series of BCEAO notes combines the date and code letter, such as this1980 H 5000 francs.

3) The third-series designs were started in 1991 with 500 and 1000 franc denominations.  The 5000 and 10000 franc notes
followed in 1992, accompanied by a new 2500 franc denomination  The year of issue is found in the first two digits of the
serial number.  Signatures were moved to the back of the notes; code letters remained in the upper right and lower left
corners.  Bar codes were added for automatic sorting.  The 2500 francs encountered strong public resistance and printing
was discontinued after 1994.

4) The most recent designs were initiated by release of a 10000 franc note in July, 2003 followed by a 2000 franc
denomination in October.  The 1000 and 5000 franc notes were released in December.  The 500 franc note has been
discontinued and replaced by a coin.  The size of the new notes is significantly smaller than previous issues and the standard
colors use for previous issues has been abandoned.  Signatures, dates, and security features are similar to those of the third
series.


Signatures were moved to the reverse of BCEAO notes in 1991.  This is signature 32 on the 10000 francs dated 2003.

Printing Varieties

    During the 1959-78 period, all BCEAO notes were printed by the Bank of France.  Since 1981, the French firm Oberthur
has produced the 500 and 1000 franc issues (and apparently the 2500 francs).  The 5000 and 10000 franc notes continue to
be printed by the Bank of France.  Difficulties at Oberthur, however, led to the Bank of France printing a few 500 franc
issues in 1981-83.  The Bank of France issues can be identified by their small numeral, ten-digit serial numbers (similar to
the 1979-80 500 franc notes). Notes printed by Oberthur carry large numeral, nine-digit serial numbers.

    Engraved and litho printing varieties exist for the 100 franc note and for the early 500 and 1000 franc notes.  The 100 francs was
switched to litho in 1961 and signature 2 is found with both engraved and litho versions.  In 1967, the 500 and 1000 franc notes
changed from engraved to litho; signature 6 exists with both versions.7  The 5000 and 10000 franc notes continue to be engraved.
7 See my article in the I.B.N. S. Journal, Volume 30, #1, 1991 for a review of how to identify litho vs. engraved varieties.  The easiest way is through
block numbers rather than magnified inspection.

   Country code letters for the first series of notes were added in a final pass after all other design features including serial and
block numbers had been printed.  As a result, placement of the code letter can vary slightly.  (See the Mauritania note below.)  Also,
the type-face used for the code letter is different from that of the block number/letter. Roger Leclerc’s book shows approximate block
number ranges,and thus a rough printing quantity, for the various signatures of the first series. No data are available, however, for the
quantity of notes printed for each code letter. Overall, signatures 3 and 8 appear to be the most scarce.

    Signature 14 has appeared on two separate occasions because Abdoulaye Kone of Cote d'Ivoire served twice as President
of the Council of Ministers, first for a brief period in 1977 and then for a full term in 1988-89.  This can cause confusion
over PICK listings which are in signature order.  The 1988-89 signature 14 issues thus precede the 1981 signature 15 notes.  The
undated 10000 franc notes from these two periods can be distinguished only by use of the block numbers.

    Several minor serial number variations exist which are of interest to the ultra-specialists:
1) When Oberthur started producing the 1981-date 500 and 1000 franc notes, the print rotors for the first three digits of the
serial number were stuck on zero.  At least half of these denominations dated 1981 are error notes with the first three digits
of the serial number as zeros. Both error and normal serial number varieties exist for most code letters.
2) In 1985, the Bank of France changed the block numbering on the 10000 francs from two digits to three digits (e.g. R.021
instead of R.21).  However several subsequent issues (signature 20) exist with both 2-digit and 3-digit block numbers.
3) In mid-1997, circulation demands for the 500 francs required adding another digit to the existing 10-digit serial number.
Both 10-digit and 11-digit varieties of the 1997 date 500 francs have been found for all code letters.  The 1000 francs
switched to 11-digit numbers beginning with the 1998 issue.
4) While block number progression is for the most part orderly, it is not unusual to find a note whose block number does not
fit in the normal range. This is true especially for the 500 and 1000 franc notes of the early 1980’s and some of the 1959
issues. One should also be aware that signature 14 (1977 version) and signature 24 are out of order because they were
discovered only after the succeeding signature had been assigned a number.  Second series 10000 franc notes
with misordered block numbers are usually counterfeit, as are third-series 10000 francs with signatures which do not fit the date.


The 500 franc notes of 1997 (110Ag)  exist with both 10-digit and 11-digit serial numbers.  The first two digits of the
number indicate the year of issue.

“Condition” of BCEAO Notes

    At this point I should alert collectors who insist on high-grade examples that they are likely to be frustrated by West
African issues.  At least one-third of the confirmed varieties simply do not exist in uncirculated condition.  Even in the initial
stage of my research it became clear that "Very Good" was the best grade available for many varieties.  Most of the new
discoveries have come from circulation, and anyone who has traveled in West Africa knows how dirty, torn, and tattered
circulating notes can be.  While "Good" is generally deemed to be the minimum collectible grade, at least 10 notes in my
own collection are "Fair" or "Poor."  Most are the only examples thus far known.  Even some very recent issues such as the
1994 H and K 1000 francs are thus far not known above “Fine.”  A West African States collector will have to settle for what
is available!


The epitome of a “POOR” grade, but the only-known example of Niger P602Hl.

    BCEAO notes are also notorious for the high percentage of early issues which have been washed and pressed. There is
nothing wrong with collecting such notes (I have at least 30 in my own collection) - as long as they are so identified and one
does not pay UNC prices!  The 1959-78 notes are on a paper stock which developed ripples following printing.  Any note
from this series which lies flat without ripples is almost certainly pressed.

    Before delivering new notes into circulation, central bank cashiers count them into packets of 10, with the 10th note folded
over the other 9.  As a result, most BCEAO notes are found with a counting bend at upper right - ranging from very light to a
massacre of the note. (Togo and Burkina are usually the worst.)  Only notes delivered as full, unopened bricks will avoid
counting bends.8  Many of the second and third series are available in full UNC, but I do not recall ever seeing a note from
the first series without at least a light counting bend.
8 If you are travelling in West Africa, central bank cashiers in Senegal, Niger, Togo, and Benin are usually willing to be helpful when you explain
you want notes which are pas dizianés. Go to commercial banks in Mali and Cote d ’Ivoire.

Exchange Rates and Catalog Value

    The CFA franc has always been tied to the French franc.  For most of the life of the BCEAO, the CFA had an exchange
rate of 50:1 guaranteed by the Bank of France.  In the latter 80’s unchecked capital flight had become such a problem that
West Africans were lined up every morning in front of the Bank of France with huge rolls of 10000 CFA notes. In mid-1992
the Bank of France suspended exchange of physical notes and the CFA was devalued in January 1993 to 100:1.  As a result,
exchange houses all over the world stopped dealing in CFA francs.  With the advent of the Euro, CFA francs are pegged at
656:1 Euro, or 100 times the conversion rate for the French franc.

   Despite lack of convertibility, high air fares, and security problems in some of the countries, most new issues of CFA francs are being
brought out for collectors.  The most difficult recent-issue notes to obtain are those from Niger, followed by Guinea-Bissau and Benin.
Among older issues, the early Mali and Mauritania notes are in a scarcity class by themselves, but with Niger not far behind.

    The marvel of BCEAO issues is that collector prices are so low for extremely rare items.  BCEAO notes have to be one of
the best bargains available!  In what other area could one find a number of varieties currently believed to be unique
cataloging less than $100?  One reason is that many of the great rarities are known only in lower grades.  Equally as
important is the fact that many collectors are interested only in types rather than in comprehensive date, signature, and code letter
combinations.  Perhaps the most sought-after note is the Mali 500 francs of 1959 (2 examples known in Fine) because it is
the only issue available for this series with a “D” code letter.  However, its value is tempered somewhat by the fact that
there are over 80 other varieties of this basic design type, some of which are available UNC for $30 or less.

   At the same time, collectors must be aware that the market value of some rarities, especially the Mali and Mauritania notes,
has been untested for years simply because these notes have never been available.  I have not seen a single example of a Mali
500 or 1000 francs note offered during the past 25 years. A VF 5000 francs recently did become available and apparently
sold for around $1000.  No West African States issue currently catalogs more than $600, but catalog data is meaningless
when the market has not really been tested.


This Mali 500 francs of 1959 (402Da) is probably the most sought-after of all BCEAO notes.

Research on BCEAO Banknote Varieties

    As I started to compile data on the varieties of BCEAO notes, I was surprised by the vast number of small collections
which exist.  I found, however, only about a dozen large collections, including the Amon Carter collection and the Pick
collection at the Munich Hipobank.  All of these contained high-grade and very scarce notes, but none had more than 50
percent of the then-cataloged varieties.  From the material in these collections I was able to add another 200 varieties to the
catalogue.  In each case where the note was not one in my own collection, I obtained a photocopy to confirm existence.

    Through subsequent travel in West Africa and invaluable assistance from a number of BCEAO officials, my own collection has now
expanded to include all of the confirmed varieties, including at least 50 previously unknown issues.  Initially, most of the new
discoveries were in the 1980's series.  After most of the blank spots in that series were filled, new discoveries were largely in the 1959-77 series.  Since the 2001 demonetization and destruction of notes from the first two series, no new varieties from these series have been reported.

    It has become increasingly apparent that most printing runs included notes with each code letter.  Blank spaces in the lists therefore
often represent varieties not yet discovered rather than ones not printed.  There are some obvious exceptions such as the 1977A 5000
francs with signature 11 and the 1984D 5000 with signature 17 which were special printings based on specific country needs.  Also,
several varieties, such as the 100 francs with signature 5 and the 500 francs with signature 12, appear not to have been ordered for all
countries.  However, there are a number of instances where notes surely must have been printed even though no examples have been
reported.  The most obvious ones are the first-issue (1959) 500 francs for Benin and 1000 francs for Niger.  I suspect that another 10-20 varieties should exist which have not yet been discovered.

    Unfortunately, some of these varieties are likely never to be found.  It is probable that some varieties, such as several early issues for
Mauritania, no longer exist.9  When the BCEAO was retiring 1959-77 issues, I unsuccessfully urged a number of officials to preserve
examples of these notes for historical purposes rather than destroy them.  Even for the new monetary museum in Dakar, however, they
were interested only in basic designs rather than date, signature, and country code data.
9 When Mali and Mauritania withdrew from the UMOA, notes with their code letters (D and E respectively) were withdrawn from circulation.  Thus the only ones available to collectors are those which had already been set aside or the occasional note which turns up in a book or bureau! Those turned in to the BCEAO were destroyed (although I was able to “rescue” a  few courtesy of central bank contacts).


This only-known example of a 1959-date Mauritania 1000 francs (P503Ea) was rescued from scheduled destruction.

     If printing records do eventually become available, they will likely prove a mixed blessing - confirmation that many unreported
varieties were printed, but with the prospect that some of them will never be found.  In the meantime, as in all collecting efforts, the joy
is in the search.
 
 
 
 

         West African States Banknote Varieties
 

This is the chart of all currently-known varieties. Questions or additions (with scans) welcomed. wburson@earthlink.net
 

    X     Confirmed (in my collection).
    ??    Reported but not confirmed.
 

     w/o Code Letters (1959)

 Denom.    Sign.    Date

 50 fr       1      ND(58)        X
 100 fr      1      23-4-59       X
 100 fr      5      ND            X
 500 fr      1      15-4-59       X
 1000 fr     1      17-9-59       X
 5000 fr     1      15-4-59       X
 

     100 francs (1959-67)

Sign.       Date                        Code Letter

                           A    B    C    D    E    H    K    T

 1          20-3-61        X    X    X    X    X    X    X    X
 2(e)       20-3-61        X    X    X              X    X    X
 2(l)       20-3-61        X    X    X              X    X    X
 3          2-12-64        X    X    ??        X    X    X    X
 4          2-03-65        X    X    X         X    X    X    X
 4          ND             X    X    X         X    X    X    X
 5          ND             X                             X    X

(e) Engraved; block numbers 134-175.
(l) Litho; block numbers 176-198.
 

         500 francs 1959-78

Sign.       Date                        Code Letter

                           A    B    C    D    E    H    K    T

 1          15-4-59        X    X    X    X    X    X    X    X
 1          20-3-61        X    X    X    ??   X         X    X
 2          20-3-61        X    X    X         X    X    X    X
 3          2-12-64        X    ??                       X    X
 4          2-03-65             X    X         X    X    X
 5          ND             X    X    X         X    X    X    X
 6(e)       ND             X    X    X         X    X    X    X
 6(l)       ND             X         X         X    X    X
 7          ND             X    X    X         X    X    X    X
 8          ND             X         X              X    X    X
 9          ND             X    X    X              X    X    X
10          ND             X    X                   X    X    X
11          ND             X    X    X              X    X    X
12          ND             X         X                   X

(e) Engraved; block numbers P.25-E.33.
(l)  Litho; block numbers H.33-D.35.
 

         1000 francs (1959-79)

Sign.       Date                        Code Letter

                           A    B    C    D    E    H    K    T

 1          17-9-59        X    X    X    X    X    ??   X    X
 1          20-3-61        X    X    X    X    X    X    X    X
 2          20-3-61        X    X    X              X    X    X
 4          2-03-65        X    X    X         X    X    X    X
 5          ND             X         X              X    X    X
 6(e)       ND             X    X    X         X    X    X    X
 6(l)       ND             X    X              X    X    X    X
 7          ND             X    X    X              X    X    X
 8          ND             X    X    X              X    X    X
 9          ND             X    X    X              X    X    X
10          ND             X    X    X              X    X    X
11          ND             X    X    X              X    X    X
12          ND             X    X    X              X    X    X
13          ND             X         X              X    X    X

(e) Engraved; block numbers Q.64-O.74.
(l)  Litho; block numbers A.75-Q.86.
 

         5000 francs (1959-76)

Sign.       Date                        Code Letter

                           A    B    C    D    E    H    K    T

 1          20-3-61        X    X    X    X    X    X    X    X
 2          20-3-61        X    X    X         X    X    X
 3          2-12-64        X                             X
 4          2-03-65        X         X         X    X    X
 6          ND             X    X    X         X    X    X    X
 7          ND             X    X    X         X    X    X    X
 8          ND             X                             X    X
 9          ND             X    X    X              X    X    X
10          ND             X    X                   X    X
11          ND             X         X              X    X    X
 

         500 francs (1979-80)

Sign.       Date                     Code Letter

                        A    B    C    D    H    K    T
12          1979        X    X    X         X    X    X
13          1980        X    X    X         X    X
 

         500 francs (1981-90)

Sign.       Date                     Code Letter

                        A    B    C    D    H    K    T

14          1988        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
15(f)       1981        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
15          1981        X    X    X         X    X    X
15(error)   1981        X    X    X         X    X    X
15(f)       1982        X    X    X         X    X    X
17          1981        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
17(f)       1983        X    X    X              X
18          1984        X    X    X         X    X    X
19          1984        X    X   X         X         X
19          1985        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
20          1986        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
20          1987        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
21          1989        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
22          1990        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
 

         1000 Francs (1981-90)

Sign.       Date                     Code Letter

                        A    B    C    D    H    K    T

14          1988        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
15          1981        X    X    X         X    X    X
15(error)   1981        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
16          1981                                 X*
17          1981        X         X    X    X    X    X
18          1984        X    X    X         X    X    X
19          1984        X    X    X         X    X    X
19          1985        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
20          1986        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
20          1987        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
21          1989        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
22          1990        X    X    X    X    X    X    X

(f)  These notes have small, 10-digit serial numbers and were printed by the Bank of France;the others have 9-digit numbers and were printed by Oberthur.
     The error notes all have zeros as the first 3 digits of the serial number due to stuck rotors on Oberthur presses.
*    SPECIMEN note; special printing, not an issued variety.
 

         5000 francs (1977-92)

Sign.       Date                     Code Letter

                        A    B    C    D    H    K    T

11          1977        X
12          1978        X         X         X    X    X
12          1979        X    X    X         X    X    X
13          1980        X                   X    X
14          1977        X    X    X         X    X    X
14          1988        X    X    X    X
14          1989        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
15          1981        X    X    X    X    X         X
15          1982        X    X    X         X    X    X
16          1983        X                        X
17          1983        X    X    X         X    X    X
17          1984                       X
18          1984        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
19          1984        X
19          1985        X    X    X    X    X    X
20          1986        X    X    X    X    X    X
20          1987        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
21          1990        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
22          1991        X    X    X    X         X    X
22          1992             X    X              X    X
23          1992             X    X    X         X    X
24          1992             X    X    X         X    X
 

         10000 francs (1977-92)

Sign.       Date                   Code Letter

                      A    B    C    D    H    K    T

11          ND        X    X    X         X    X    X
12          ND        X    X    X         X    X    X
13          ND        X         X         X    X    X
14 (77)*    ND        X    X    X         X    X    X
14 (88)*    ND        X    X         X    X    X
15          ND        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
16          ND             X                   X    X
18          ND        X    X         X    X    X    X
19          ND        X    X         X    X    X
20(3-digit) ND        X    X    X    X    X    X
20(2-digit) ND        X              X    X    X
21          ND        X    X    X    X    X    X
22          ND        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
23          ND        X    X    X              X    X

*  Block numbers are in the 6-7 range for the early (1977) variety of signature 14 and in the 32-38 range for the later (1988-89) varieties.
 

         500 francs (1991-2002)

Sign.       Date*                    Code Letter

                        A    B    C    D    H    K    T    S

22          1991        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
22          1992             X
23          1992        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
25          1993        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
26          1994        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
27          1995        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
28          1996        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
28(10 digit)1997        X    X    X    X    X    X    X    X
28(11 digit)1997        X    X    X    X    X    X    X    X
28          1998        X    X    X    X    X    X    X    X
28          1999        X
29          1999        X    X    X    X    X    X    X    X
30          2000             X    X    X    X    X    X    X
30          2001        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
31          2002        X    X    X    X    X    X    X    X
31          2003                       X
 

         1000 francs (1991-2003)

Sign.       Date*                    Code Letter

                        A    B    C    D    H    K    T    S

22          1991        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
22          1992             X    X
23          1992        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
25          1993        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
26          1994        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
27          1995        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
28          1996        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
28(10 digit)1997        X    X    X    X    X    X    X    X
28(11 digit)1998        X    X    X    X    X    X    X    X
29          1999        X    X    X    X    X    X    X    X
30          2000             X    X    X    X    X    X
30          2001        X    X    X    X         X    X    X
31          2002        X    X    X    X    X    X    X    X
31          2003        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
 

         2500 francs (1992-1994)

Sign.       Date*                    Code Letter

                        A    B    C    D    H    K    T

23          1992        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
25          1993        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
27          1994        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
 
 

    5000 francs (1992-2003)

Sign.       Date*                   Code Letter

                        A    B    C    D    H    K    T    S

23          1992        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
25          1993        X    X    X              X    X
27          1994        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
27          1995        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
28          1996        X    X    X    X    X    X
28          1997        X    X    X    X    X    X    X    X
28          1998        X    X    X    X    X    X    X    X
29          1998        X    X    X    X    X    X    X    X
29          1999        X    X    X    X    X    X    X    X
30          2000        X    X    X    X    X    X    X    X
30          2001        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
31          2002        X    X    X    X    X    X    X    X
31          2003        X    X    X    X    X    X    X    X
 

         10000 francs (1992-2002)

Sign.       Date*                    Code Letter

                        A    B    C    D    H    K    T    S

25          1992        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
27          1994        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
27          1995        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
28          1996        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
28          1997        X    X    X    X    X    X    X    X
28          1998        X    X    X    X    X    X    X
29          1998        X    X    X    X    X    X    X    X
29          1999        X    X    X    X    X    X    X    X
30          2000        X    X    X    X    X    X    X    X
31          2001        X    X    X    X    X    X    X

* Year of issue indicated by first two digits of serial number.
 

         New Designs, 2003

    1000 francs (2003- )

Sign.       Date*                    Code Letter

                       A    B    C    D    H    K    T    S

32          2003       X    X    X    X    X    X    X    X
32          2004       X    X    X    X    X    X    X    X
33          2005            X         X
33          2006                           X
 

         2000 francs (2003- )

Sign.       Date*                    Code Letter

                       A    B    C    D    H    K    T    S

32          2003       X    X    X    X    X    X    X    X
32          2004       X    X    X    X    X    X    X    X
33          2005            X    X
 
 

         5000 francs (2003- )

Sign.       Date*                    Code Letter

                       A    B    C    D    H    K    T    S

32          2003       X    X    X    X    X    X    X    X
32          2004       X    X    X    X    X    X    X    X
33          2005       X    X         X    X    X
33          2006                      X         X
 

         10000 francs (2003- )

Sign.       Date*                    Code Letter

                       A    B    C    D    H    K    T    S

32          2003       X    X   X    X    X    X    X    X
32          2004       X    X   X    X    X    X    X    X
33          2005       X    X   X    X
 

* Year of issue indicated by first two digits of serial number.

--------------------------

                      SIGNATURES

Sign.  Le Président*         Country         Le Directeur Général

1 Robert TEZENAS DU MONTCEL  France          Robert JULIENNE
2 Bertin BORNA               Dahomey         Robert JULIENNE
3 Alpha BA BOCAR             Mauritanie      Robert JULIENNE
4 BambaOuld YEZID            Mauritanie      Robert JULIENNE
5 Mohamed Saleh M’KHAITIRAT  Mauritanie      Robert JULIENNE
6 Tianoko Marc GARANGO       Haute Volta     Robert JULIENNE
7 Jean COLLIN                Sénégal         Robert JULIENNE
8 Babacar BA                 Sénégal         Robert JULIENNE
9 Edem KODJO                 Togo            Robert JULIENNE

    Le Président du Conseil  Country         Le Gouverneur
    des Ministres

10 Edem KODJO                Togo            Abdoulaye FADIGA
11 Henri Konan BEDIE         Cote d’ivoire   Abdoulaye FADIGA
12 Isidore AMOUSSOU          Benin           Abdoulaye FADIGA
13 Leonard KALMOGO           Burkina Faso    Abdoulaye FADIGA
14 Abdoulaye KONE            Cote d’ivoire   Abdoulaye FADIGA
15 Edmond KY                 Burkina Faso    Abdoulaye FADIGA
16 Hamid ALGABID             Niger           Abdoulaye FADIGA
17 Moussa TONDI              Niger           Abdoulaye FADIGA
18 Boukary ADJI              Niger           Abdoulaye FADIGA
19 Mamadou TOURE             Sénégal         Abdoulaye FADIGA
20 Komla ALIPUI              Togo            Abdoulaye FADIGA
21 Abdoulaye KONE            Cote d’ivoire   Alassane OUATTARA
22 Idelphonse LEMON          Benin           Alassane OUATTARA
23 Frederic KORSAGA          Burkina Faso    Alassane OUATTARA
24 Paul DOSSOU               Benin           Alassane OUATTARA
25 Roch Marc KABORE          Burkina Faso    Alassane OUATTARA
26 Roch Marc KABORE          Burkina Faso    Charles Konan BANNY
27 Soumaila CISSE            Mali            Charles Konan BANNY
28 Niamien NGORAN            Cote d’ivoire   Charles Konan BANNY
29 Ide GNANDOU               Niger           Charles Konan BANNY
30 Abdoulaye DIOP            Senegal         Charles Konan BANNY
31 Kossi ASSIMAIDOU          Togo            Charles Konan BANNY
32 Ayaovi TIGNOPKA           Togo            Charles Konan BANNY
33 Gregoire LAOUROU          Benin           Charles Konan BANNY
   (or possibly Cosme SEHLIN)

NOTE: Identification of the Presidents of the Council of Ministers above is based on best available data, but not guaranteed. Spelling variations exist for some of the names.