FANNING ISLAND (Tabuaeran), WWII Local Issues



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GB King George VI

11.12.1936 - 6.2.1952

BR. High Comm.
Sir Harry C.  

16.9.1938 - 1942



GBR colony 9.10.1892; Ellis separates 1.10.1975; as TUV1978;
Gilbert now Kiribati 12.7.1979
Currency History: GBR currency until 1975-78; AUS 1978 >
The only banknotes attributable to the Fanning and Washington Islands were issued during WWII

For related issues see Kiribati; Fanning Island (Kiribati) currently uses the Australian Dollar as its currency.

Signature: R.G.Garrett, Manager; Exchange ₤1 Australian = ₤1 Fanning Islands Plantations
Circulated in Fanning and Washington Islands


Printer: Lithographedi by Honolulu Star Bulletin, Hawaii
P.UNL, SB.1541a 1 Pound
No serial    MT
A used note with no serial number,
Courtesy MT
P.UNL, SB.1541a1  1 Pound ND(1940's)
 No.1005  JM
Sold for ₤195 in 2013
P.UNL, SB.1541a1  1 Pound ND(1940's)

Fai P.UNL, SB.1541a1  1 Pound ND
P.UNL, SB.1541a1  1 Pound ND(1940's)
Scan courtesy of:
Lyn Knight Currency Auctions
World Sale 6 -- Lot 131
P.UNL, SB1541a1  1 Pound ND(1940's)
No.1855  CL1

P.UNL, SB1541a1 1 Pound ND(1940's)

Drs. Joanne and Edward Dauer Collection
P.UNL, SB.1541a 1 Pound ND(1940's)
No. 3104    MT
Face of note is autographed by Fanning Island Plantation Manager: R.G. Garrett.
Courtesy MT
P.UNL, SB.1541a1 1 Pound

Fanning Short Snorter with USA $1 Hawaii Short Snorter attached

$A2,350 on 8.3.2009 by

Anyone who can help identify the unit, please let us know.
Charles Hibaud? 1765 SW 12th Av Miami, FL
Ed Strickby, Jack Pedee? PAA
G.H.Castle, Martinus A. Liess?, P.S. Beck, Jack Hab...
Dale Basq..., Bert Creighton?, Warren J. Moss
D.W. Hant..., R.W. Bolkps?


??? Images Needed

Bisected Notes - Used as Theatre Tickets

P.UNL, SB.1541b  1 Shilling

P.UNL, SB1541b  1 Shilling


P.UNL, SB1541b  2 Shillings


P.UNL, SB1541b  2 Shillings



Fanning Island, known locally as Tabuaeran, it  is one of the main Line Islands located about 1,600 miles east of Tarawa and about 150 miles north west of Christmas Island, now part of Kiribati.

The Fanning Island Plantations, Limited issued a 1 banknote to alleviate a shortage of Australian dollars. According to World War II Remembered, "... in 1942 an American army task force moved onto the island......soldiers rapidly absorbed the available supply of Australian currency in circulation." A quantity of 3,000 banknotes were ordered printed in Honolulu by plantation manager R. G. Garrett but not all may have been issued.  According to a specialist in these items "v
ery few were probably issued as complete notes but were later cut in half and used as theatre tickets. We are pretty sure but not positive that the numbers on the notes started at 1000. Therefore the original shipment probably had serial numbers from 1000 to roughly 4000."

The left half of the bi-sected note was hand written with the value of 1 Shilling (1/-) while the right half became a 2 Shilling (2/-) value. These theater tickets are scarce, however the complete un-bisected notes are rare with only about 33 pieces identified *. One of the reported pieces, serial No.1437 has recently come on the auction block at Lyn Knight Currency Auctions as lot #131 with an estimated value of $400 - $600 and an opening bid of $200.
Ruth W. Hill Collection had a complete  note which sold for $8,812.50 USD,  including commissions on  24.4.2014 at Heritage World Currency Auctions.

Fanning was discovered on 11.6.1798 by Edmund Fanning,
at 3 a.m., while he was on his way to China. It remained unpopulated until 1846 when British Tahitians, Lucett and Collie landed with a group of natives to harvest coconuts. They laid claim to the island and later sold the rights in 1851 to C.B.Wilson who later sold it to Captain Henry English. On 7.4.1857 English received consent from the British Consul in Honolulu to hoist the British flag on the island. Formal possession of the island was taken in 1861 by HMS Alert and annexation by HMS Caroline took place in 1888 when plans were being drawn up to lay a cable across the Pacific.

 The Station buildings, Pacific Cable Board, Fanning Island

Kenneth P. Emory describes (in 1934 and 1939) stone ruins, adzes, a fishhook and other ethnological specimens found on Fanning Island. He concludes that the island was populated by people from Tonga about the 15th century. Captain Fanning's narrative of near shipwreck and his description of the island make good reading. Several whalers visited Fanning Island. One commanded by Captain Mather, called it American Island in 1814. An account of the island is given by Captain Legoarant de Tromelin, of the French corvette La Bayonnaise, which visited the island in 1828. At least four vessels arrived at Honolulu from Fanning between 1843 and 1853.

A short time prior to 1855, Captain Henry English, with 150 natives from Manihiki (Humphries) Island, settled on Fanning and commenced the production of coconut oil. He placed the island under British protection when Captain W.H. Morshead visited it in H.M.S. Dido, October 16, 1855. Shipping records in The Friend, The Polynesian, and The Gazette (all published in Honolulu) give some idea of the amount of coconut oil produced. In 1859 two vessels arrived at Honolulu with 15,000 gallons; in 1860, one vessel with 10,000 gallons; 1861, three vessels with 30,000 gallons; 1862, four vessels with 44,000 gallons; and 1863, four vessels with 10,800 gallons.

About 1857, a whaling ship brought to Fanning an Ayrshire Scotsman, William Greig. A short time later he was joined by an American, George Bicknell. Both married native islanders. Greig's wife was Teanau Atu (1842-1917), sister of the king of Manihiki. Both men died on Fanning, GrFather Emmanual Rougiereig on July 17 1892. The three sons of Greig remained on Fanning; but the descendants of Bicknell gradually moved away. His heir sold his share of Fanning and Washington Islands to a man in Suva, from whom it was acquired by Father Emmanual Rougier.

A firm, Fanning Island, Limited, was formed which operated Fanning and Washington Islands until 1935. Due to low price of copra, in that year it was sold to a subsidiary of Burns, Philip and Co., Ltd., operating under the name of Fanning Island Plantations, Ltd.

According to shipping records in Honolulu, there was a guano digging boom on Fanning between 1877 and 1879, for ships of many flags sailed there to load guano. Some vessels were wrecked, such as the British barque Crosby, in 1879. In 1885 guano still was being shipped. But in 1887 lumber was taken there to make copra drying and storage sheds, and from then on copra was the chief industry on the island.

Fanning was formally annexed to Great Britain by Captain William Wiseman, of H.M.S. Caroline, March 15, 1888. A cable relay station was established in 1902. This breaks the stretch from Bamfield, Vancouver Island, to Suva; 3,300 miles, Bamfield to Fanning; 2,200 miles, Fanning to Suva. Up to 1931, Union S.S. Co. freighters stopped with supplies. Since then the island has been supplied from Honolulu, the S.S. Dickenson making quarterly trips.

Many comforts are provided, such as radio, refrigeration, electric lights (from Diesel generators), a doctor, tennis court, library, even a branch of the New Zealand Savings Bank, to make pleasant the two year tours of duty of the cable station personnel and their wives, numbering about 20 white people. Storage tanks hold about 8,000 gallons of rain water, and well water also is reported to be both good and plentiful.

In September, 1914, the German cruiser Nurnburg slipped up to Fanning, flying the French flag. They landed and wrecked the cable station, cut the cable, and destroyed a cache of spare instruments. With the assistance of Hugh Greig, who dived for the several ends of the cable, communication was re-established within two weeks. In 1939, it was reported that the island was being fortified against a repetition of this but the report was later denied, it being stated that an undefended island of purely commercial importance was safer.

At English Harbour, headquarters of the copra plantation, there are 3 or 4 more white people and between 100 and 150 Gilbert Island workmen. It was reported in 1939 that 300 new Gilbertese recruits were being taken to Fanning. At that time, Fanning Island was administered from Ocean Island (Banaba) 1880 miles away, but there was a resident agent immediately in charge. New Zealand stamps had been used for postage.

In 1859 English entered into a partnership with William Greig and George Bicknell and these three were joined by William Owens, owner of Washington Island, in 1860. Owens left the following year and English retired in 1864. Messrs. Greig and Bicknell were confirmed as lawful owners of both Fanning and Washington Islands by the British Consul in Honolulu on 2 September 1864. The Greig Bicknell partnership lasted until 1906 when they sold out to Father Rougier who in turn sold it on to Fanning Island Plantations Ltd., a Burns Philp subsidiary.

Like Cocos, Fanning Island received a visit from the German Navy. On 7 September 1914 the cruiser SMS Nurnburg, accompanied by SMS Leipzig, approached Fanning Island, flying the French flag. Landing an armed party the Germans set about wrecking equipment and cutting the two cables. They also took 3000 gold sovereigns from the safe, used to pay the staff, plus 71 in stamps and cash from the Post Office. Shortly after this incident the Nurnburg was sunk, with all hands, in an engagement with the Royal Navy known as the Battle of the Falkland Islands.

The decision to land COMPAC at Hawaii instead of Fanning Island brought about the closure of the cable station at the end of 1963. In 1964 it was taken over by the Hawaiian Oceanographic Institute as a Pacific Equatorial Research Laboratory for the study of Equatorial Currents.

* WHOLE NOTES Identified:

No Serial Courtesy MT
Serial No. 1000 Framed in Board Room of Burns
Philp, Ltd. Sydney, AUS
Serial No. 1005 See above
Serial No. 1078  
Serial No. 1127  
Serial No. 1151  
Serial No. 1231 Sold in 1985 for A₤30
Serial No. 1249 Offered in 1998 for ₤160
Serial No. 1263  
Serial No. 1271 Has "Cancelled" written in 2 lines
Serial No. 1322 Offered in 1996 for  ₤900
Serial No. 1333  
Serial No. 1342  
Serial No.  1351  
Serial No. 1404 Sold in 1981 for ₤18
Serial No. 1427 * Sold for $8,812.50 USD in 2014
Serial No. 1437  
Serial No. 1468  
Serial No. 1495  
Serial No. 1531  
Serial No. 1541 In files of Sydney Journal
Serial No. 1580 Sold for ₤110 in 1998
Serial No. 1634  
Serial No. 1673  
Serial No. 1715 Signed by Bill Frew
Serial No. 1767  
Serial No. 1768 ** Note on back by Bill Frew 
Serial No. 1806  
Serial No. 1851  
Serial No. 1855 CL1, VF+ Estimated Value $10,000 16 Mar 2021
Serial No. 1929 PMG VF25 Listed on eBay 7 Nov 2019 @ $5,400 USD
PMG VF25 Listed on eBay 16 Mar 2021 @ $9,000 USD ***
Serial No. 3021  
Serial No. 3027  
Serial No. 3039 Short Snorter sold for  $A2350 in 2000
Serial No. 3104 Face of note is autographed
 by Manager R.G. Garrett

Whole Notes Identified

* Ruth W. Hill Collection: Sold for $8,812.50 USD
 including commissions - 24.4.2014 Heritage World Currency Auctions

** "For J. Ferges Bowman, ESQ. Do hope this will eventually reach you
& prove of interest. All good wishes from Washington Island
& the Transpacific Rowboat "BRITANNIA 2 "
With kindest regards, Bill Frew" The message is countersigned by
John Faifax & Sylvia Cook

From the Drs. Joanne and Edward Dauer Collection of Australian Banknotes

The Gilbert and Ellice Islands and its Philately, Part II by Keith Fitchett
Fanning Island (Kiribati) currently uses the Australian Dollar as its currency.


CL1    We gratefully acknowledge the collector who submitted these images. If you wish to contact that collector we will pass on your email.

We gratefully acknowledge Joel Shafer of  Lyn Knight Auctions for this image.

    We gratefully acknowledge the J. Mulik of the Pacific Island Study Circle who submitted these images.

We gratefully acknowledge MT for this image.

WWII Remembered SB Numbers

World War II Remembered: History in Your Hands,
a Numismatic Study

C.Frederick Schwan, Joseph E. Boling
BNR Press, ISBN 0-931960-40-1 1995