Collection Inspiration: Bridges

Posted on 11/15/2022

Banknotes from around the world feature bridges old and new.

Bridges are some of the most grand and memorable landmarks around the world. They come in all different shapes and sizes and make for some striking illustrations on banknotes. Today, we’ll look at 11 banknotes to start a collection of famous bridges.

Allahverdi Khan Bridge (Si-o-se-pol) – Iran (1602)

Commissioned in 1602 under Shah Abbas I, the Se-o-se-pol (the Bridge of 33 Arches) is one of the most famous examples of early Safavid bridge design in Isfahan. Made of stone and bricks, the great landmark served as a connection between elites and the vital city of New Julfa. Its technical name is The Allahverdi Khan Bridge, named after Allahverdi Khan Undiladze, the commander-in-chief of Iran’s military in the early 1600s. It is seen on the back of this Iran ND (1951) 200 Rials.

Iran, Bank Melli ND (1951) 200 Rials graded PMG 66 Gem Uncirculated EPQ
Click images to enlarge.

Le Pont Neuf – France (1607)

More than 400 years old, Le Pont Neuf is the oldest standing bridge crossing the Seine in Paris, France. Construction ended in 1606 after long delays due to political unrest; King Henry IV inaugurated the bridge in 1607 and opened it to the public. The landmark quickly became known as the Center of Paris, both for its lively commerce and crime scenes and its intersection with Lutetia (known today as the Île de la Cité), a small island known as the birthplace of Paris. The bridge is seen on the front of this 1957-58 5,000 Francs.

France, Banque de France 1957-58 5000 Francs graded PMG 55 About Uncirculated
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Querétaro Aqueduct – Mexico (1738)

While not quite a bridge, the Querétaro aqueduct is a massive bridge-like structure that brought clean water to residents of Querétaro, Mexico in the 1700s. Although the aqueduct was built to bring clean water to the townspeople, local folklore tells another tale. It is said that Juan Antonio de Urrutia y Arana, Marquis of Villa del Aquila, fell in love with a Capuchin nun and built the aqueduct for her. Although it no longer carries water through the city, the massive 75-arch aqueduct is still a well-loved historical landmark today, which is why it was featured on the back of this 1971 5 Pesos note.

Mexico, Banco de Mexico 1971 5 Pesos graded PMG 66 Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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Maria Pia Bridge (Ponte de Dona Maria Pia) – Portugal (1877)

A beautiful example of a double-arch bridge, the Maria Pia Bridge (or Ponte de Dona Maria Pia in Portuguese) was built in 1877 to bring the Lisbon-to-Porto railway across the river Douro. Building this historical landmark was no easy task — the river flowed too fast for conventional piers, so architects had to default to an arch design for the best results. At the time of completion, the Maria Pia Bridge was the longest single-arch bridge span in the world. The Maria Pia Bridge is no longer used for transport, but it declared an International Historical Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers. It is shown on this 1929 1,000 Escudos.

Portugal, Banco de Portugal 1929 1,000 Escudos graded PMG 30 Very Fine
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Forth Bridge – Scotland (1890)

The Forth Bridge was designed by English engineers Sir John Fowler and Sir Benjamin Baker, two influential architects from the Victoria era who designed several under and above-ground railways across Scotland. The bridge was opened to the public in 1890 and has since become a symbol of Scotland and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was even voted Scotland’s greatest man-made wonder in 2016, perhaps for it being the longest single cantilever bridge span in the world until 1919. The grand structure is one of the featured bridges depicted in the Bank of Scotland’s 2007 Bridge note series.

Scotland, Bank of Scotland 2009 £20 graded PMG 67 Superb Gem Mint EPQ
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Hawkesworth Bridge and Swing Bridge – Belize (1923 / 1949)

This Belize 1991 50 Dollars note actually features two Belize bridges on its backside. The swing bridge to the left is known as the Belize City Swing Bridge. It is the oldest swing bridge in Central America (it was opened to the public in 1923) and one of the few manually-operated swing bridges still in use, making it a popular tourist destination. For the bridge to be raised, four men must hand-turn a crank, illustrated on the note’s backside to the far right. The bridge to the right is the Hawkesworth Bridge, a one-lane suspension bridge built in 1949 and, currently, the only drivable suspension bridge in Belize.

Belize, Central Bank 1991 50 Dollars graded PMG 66 Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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Benjamin Sheares Bridge – Singapore (1981)

The Benjamin Sheares Bridge is named after Benjamin Sheares, the second President of Singapore. The structure is 1.8 kilometers long and 29 meters high, making it both the longest and tallest bridge in Singapore. It was opened to the public in 1981, just four months after President Sheares’ death. A commemorative illustration of the bridge can be found on the Singapore 1987 50 Dollars banknote, which is part of the Ship Series notes released from 1984 to 1999.

Singapore, Board of Commissioners of Currency ND (1987) 50 Dollars graded PMG 65 Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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Skarnsund Bridge – Norway (1991)

Although the cable-stayed bridge depicted on the back of this European Union 2002 500 Euro note isn’t clearly identified, it resembles the Skarnsund Bridge in Norway. Originally built in 1991 to facilitate easier transportation between Mosvik and Innherred, the bridge has since become a multiple award-winning structure and a protected cultural heritage by the Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage. It is one of the world’s longest cable-stayed bridges with a span of 530 meters, and the bridge with the longest concrete cable-stayed span.

European Union / Germany 2002 500 Euro graded PMG 67 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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Great Belt Bridge – Denmark (1998)

Also known as the East Bridge, this great suspension bridge closes the gap between the Danish islands of Zealand and Funen separated by the Great Belt strait. The bridge opened in 1998 as a replacement for the Great Belt ferries service, allowing public road and rail traffic to cross the water without waiting for boats. It is one of the largest construction projects in Danish history, costing about $3 billion at the time. Denmark featured the Great Belt Bridge on the 1,000 Krone note in its recent bridge series.

Denmark, Nationalbank 2011 1,000 Kroner graded PMG 68 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
Click images to enlarge.

Kinsuka Bridge (Pont De Kinsuka) – Democratic Republic of the Congo (2009)

The Kinsuka Bridge is a foot and road-traffic bridge in the Congo, allowing transportation over the Binza river. It is featured on the Congo Democratic Republic 500 Franc commemorative banknote, released in a paper money and numismatic series to commemorate the Congo’s 50th anniversary of independence. Unfortunately, decades of pollution have caused the water in the Binza river to become tainted, especially around the bridge itself. The bridge continues to be a key transportation mode in the Kinshasa community.

Congo Democratic Republic 2010 500 Francs Commemorative graded PMG 66 Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge – China (2018)

This massive bridge connects Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macau — three major cities in China — hence the name. This “bridge” also features a 6.7-kilometer undersea tunnel that runs between the Blue Dolphin Island and the White Dolphin Island. It opened in 2018 after a grueling nine years of construction and was subsequently featured on this commemorative Macau, China 2019 20 Patacas note. Locals and tourists enjoy shuttle bus and private transportation across the bridge-tunnel system.

Macau, China 2019 20 Patacas Commemorative graded PMG 66 Gem Uncirculated EPQ
Click images to enlarge.

If these beautiful bridges inspired you, check out other Collection Inspiration columns for different collecting ideas. Also, be sure to follow PMG on Facebook, PMG on Instagram and PMG on Twitter for articles and interesting notes posted daily.

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