The leone is the currency of Sierra Leone. It is subdivided into 100 cents. The ISO 4217 code is SLL and the leone is abbreviated as Le placed before the amount.
The leone was introduced in 1964. It replaced the British West African pound at a rate of 1 pound = 2 leones (i.e., 1 leone = 10 shillings).
For an earlier Sierra Leone currency, see Sierra Leonean dollar.
In 1964, coins were introduced in denominations of ½, 1, 5, 10 and 20 cents. All bore the portrait of Sir Milton Margai
. In 1972, 50 cents coins were introduced which carried the portrait of Dr Siaka Stevens
. This portrait also appeared on a new, slightly smaller series of coins introduced in 1980 in denominations of ½, 1, 5, 10 and 20 cents. In 1987, octagonal, nickel-bronze 1 leone coins were introduced.
Following a period of high inflation, new coins were introduced in 1996 for 10, 50 and 100 leones. 500 leones coins were introduced in 2004. Of the four coins in circulation, only the 100 leones is available in any quantity. Most shopkeepers and restaurants rarely encounter 500 leones coins.
In 1964, the Bank of Sierra Leone
introduced notes in denominations of 1, 2 and 5 leones. 50 cents notes were added in 1979, followed by 10 leones in 1980 and 20 leones in 1982. 100 leones notes were introduced in 1988, followed by 500 leones in 1991, 1000 and 5000 leones in 1993, 2000 leones in the year 2000 and 10,000 leones in 2004.
Banknotes currently in circulation are 500, 1000, 2000, 5000 and 10,000 leones. 10,000 leones notes have been in circulation for less than a year and are at present still infrequently encountered. This means that most transactions take place in bundles of 5000 leones notes. Because of inflation, a 20,000 leone banknote will soon be introduced, at a date to be confirmed.
Specimen notes are issued to banks to familiarize the local inhabitants with any currency changes. These are issued by Thomas de la Rue printers of the UK. Availability to collectors is limited. This author obtained a small quantity from the Central Bank in Freetown after much discussion. The denominations received were 500, 1000 and 5000 leones. The 'bank' ran out of the Le2000 & Le10,000 denominations. None of the Le2000 specimen notes were sighted during a 2005 visit to Freetown. The Le10,000 was seen in different banks stuck down to the sides of booths. Collector value of these notes is unknown but a set of 3 (Le500, Le1000, Le5000) will appear in an auction sale in Australia in Sydney, held by Noble Numismatics Pty Ltd, between March 28-30 2007.
Collecting Sierra Leone currency
Notes are generally in a very grubby condition, averages very good to fine. 10,000 leones at best very fine. The Central Bank is an unhelpful source for banknotes and coins.
Coins tend to be in very fair condition, with 100 leones being slightly better. A few dealers sell older coins and banknotes but their conditions are generally very bad.
The prices in the Pick catalogue for notes are inadequate considering difficulty in acquiring better grade notes. Coins are correctly or even over priced in the Krause-Mishler catalogue.