Information about currency: Oceanian Pound

Oceanian Pound (1942 - 1945)
Currency NameOceanian Pound
System1 Pound = 20 Shillings (no pennies were issued)

The Japanese government-issued Oceanian Pound was one of several issues of Japanese invasion money used during World War II. Consisting of only four denominations, the Oceanian Pound was the shortest set (i.e., total number of denominations) issued.

Geographically, the region of Oceania comprises numerous islands across the vast South and Central Pacific which includes the islands of New Zealand. Certain descriptions may or may not include Australia. Oceania has also been defined by island groupings: Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. However, from a numismatic perspective (i.e., the issuance of Japanese invasion money), Oceania consisted of the occupied territories of Guam, Gilbert and Ellice Islands, Caroline Islands, Marianas Islands, Solomon Islands, Palau, and the now defunct Territory of New Guinea. Although officially called "Oceania" the region was considered a financial and currency union under Japanese colonial dominion that included several political jurisdictions rather than a single polity.

Common among most issues of Japanese invasion money, the Oceania notes depict the title "The Japanese Government" rather than the name or region they were intended for. This is due to many of these currencies having been printed ahead of time and intended to circulate in more than one country in a given region intended to be absorbed into the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. As a result, many of them are considered temporary issues. The Oceanian series can be identified in two particular ways, one being the image of a palm lined beach depicted on all denominations, and the "serial number" having two identifying letters printed on the obverse. The first letter “O” indicates the note was printed and issued for Oceania and is present on all Oceanian denominations[5] The second letter is the block (or printing batch) of the note. The two lower denomination notes (half-shilling and one shilling) were printed in three blocks (OA, OB, and OC). The two higher denomination notes (10 shillings and one pound) were only printed in a single block (OA).[5]

In August 1945 the Co-Prosperity Sphere was dissolved and the Oceanian Pound was abolished shortly after, with the old currency exchanged for Australian Pound or the US dollar depending on the territory.

Over the years there have been numerous claims that Oceanian pound notes were intended for a planned invasion of Australia that never materialized. These claims have all been easily debunked as no plans for any kind of near term Australian invasion were ever made and no such currency was ever printed or considered.

Early in 1944 crude copies were being made and sold out of Sydney, with the word "replica" printed in small letter on the reverse. Authorities determined that since the notes were not legal tender in Australia (with or without the word "replica"), the practice was not illegal. However the responsible party, a print shop in Brisbane, was cited for violating wartime regulations governing the rationing of paper, and shut down. These replica notes trade hands among numismatic collectors and their value is roughly ten-times higher than the issued, circulated notes.

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Oceanian Pound: Details
Issued ByJapan
Oceanian Pound: Users
Flag of British Solomon Islands British Solomon Islands Oceanian Pound 1942 1945
Flag of Gilbert and Ellice Islands Gilbert and Ellice Islands Oceanian Pound 1942 1945
Flag of Nanyo Nanyo Oceanian Pound 1942 1945
Flag of Nauru Nauru Oceanian Pound 1942 1945
Flag of New Guinea, Territory of New Guinea, Territory of Oceanian Pound 1942 1945