Banknote Index



S.S. Politician Shipwreck - Jamaica 10 Shilling Banknote

The change of color of Jamaica's 10 shilling note P38 blue to P39 purple came about as a result of the wreck of the S.S. Politician off Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides in 1941 on board was 290,000 10 shilling notes (P38) for Jamaica along with 28,000 cases of malt whiskey the local area had been dry of alcohol due to war-time rationing the locals who had saved the crew and from them learned what the cargo on board was, "salvaged" some of the cargo and subsequently some of the banknotes as well. Thus started a merry old time for the locals so much so that is prompted author Compton Mackenzie to write the novel Whiskey Galore in 1947 and a movie of the same name was produced in 1949 by Ealing Studios (released in the USA as Tight Little Island). The banknotes began turning up at banks and were redeemed all over Europe the USA and even Jamaica itself. This caused the authorities to De-monetize P38 in 1951 and produce P39 in a different color.

The serial numbers for the "Politician" notes are known and as follows

Prefix C6, C7 & C8 60,001 - 100,000
Prefix C9 & C10 50,001 - 100,000
Prefix C11 30,001 - 100,000

In all after authorities recovered the majority of notes from the wreck and redemption of notes in world banks some 74000 notes are not "accounted for"

Article contributed by Bill Vesty

Eriskay, off the West Coast of Scotland

Original Issue

Revised Issue