Collection Inspiration: Palaces

Posted on 1/17/2023

The grand residences that appear on these notes are sure to please any collector with an eye for architecture and a love of history.

Palaces are symbols of royalty and power. They are usually grand residences reserved for political use or people of privilege, such as state heads or monarchs. Yet, palaces also conjure history, romance and fairy tale settings that fascinate many. For the paper money collector, politico, history buff or architecture enthusiast, this list of banknotes is the perfect way to start a collection based on palaces, both new and old.

The Palace of Westminster / Westminster Hall

The Palace of Westminster — often referred to as Westminster Hall — is the official government house that the Parliament of the United Kingdom uses to conduct official meetings. At the time of this Great Britain Pound's printing a century ago, King George V owned the palace as a right of the Crown. It has since passed on to his successors and is now owned by King Charles III. The palace has three main towers, one of which is the Elizabeth Tower, better known as Big Ben.

Great Britain, Treasury Note ND (1919) £1 graded PMG 66 Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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The Palace of Sintra

Also called Town Palace, this historical landmark is the best-preserved medieval royal residence in Portugal. Although it is now a national monument, the palace used to serve as a grand residence for Portugal’s monarchs, with King John I, King Afonso VI and Queen Maria I being a few of the monarchs to live there. The front of this Portugal 1932 1,000 Escudos depicts the Palace of Sintra in a front-facing view.

Portugal, Banco de Portugal 1932 1,000 Escudos graded PMG 40 Extremely Fine
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Imperial Ancestral Temple – The Palace of China

The palace on the reverse of this Central Bank of China 500 Yuan depicts the Imperial Ancestral Temple of the Palace of China — otherwise known as the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City is the world’s largest imperial palace. It housed over 24 Lords and Ladies of the Ming and Qing Dynasties and remains one of the most important palaces in the world. It was called the “Forbidden” City because it was off limits to anyone not of Lord and Lady status.

The Imperial Ancestral Temple lies just outside the Forbidden City gates. There, the emperors and empresses of the city would conduct religious sacrifices in order to please their gods. These sacrificial ceremonies were held on important occasions, such as festivals and ancestral remembrance ceremonies. The Forbidden City and its surrounding area have become a historical site and tourist attraction, though 40% of the area is still forbidden to the public.

China, Central Bank of China 1936 500 Yuan graded PMG 35 Choice Very Fine
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Beiteddine Palace

The front of this Lebanon 1950 50 Livres Specimen depicts a sprawling mansion in the heart of the Chouf Mountains. This dwelling is known as the Beiteddine Palace, which translates to “The House of Faith.” The French mandate used it for local administration, while the first post-independence president of Lebanon used it as a summer home until it was damaged during a conflict. Today, the Beiteddine Palace has been restored and converted into a museum.

Lebanon, Banque de Syrie et du Liban 1945-50 50 Livres graded PMG 63 Choice Uncirculated
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Rova of Antananarivo

The Rova of Antananarivo is believed to have been first built by Merina king Andrianjaka between 1610 and 1625. The palace served as a residence for rulers of the Kingdom of Imerina in the 17th and 18th centuries, then as a dwelling for the rulers of the Kingdom of Madagascar in the 19th century. Every structure in the palace was either destroyed or damaged during a fire in 1995, so the palace is in a constant state of reconstruction and restoration today. Despite this, the building is still culturally significant — enough to be placed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and featured on this Madagascar ND (1950-51) 100 Francs.

Madagascar, Banque de Madagascar ND (1950-51) 100 Francs graded PMG 58 Choice About Uncirculated
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The National Palace (Palacio Nacional) of the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic gained independence from Haiti in February 1844, after a brutal war of independence that lasted over a decade. In 1944, a full century later, the Dominican Republic celebrated their continued independence by beginning construction on the Palacio Nacional — their very own National Palace. The Palacio Nacional doesn’t house the current President of the Dominican Republic, although most other building functions remain the same. You can see the sprawling palace depicted neatly on the front of this Dominican Republic ND (1964-74) 1,000 Pesos Oro Specimen.

Dominican Republic ND (1964-74) 1,000 Pesos Oro Specimen graded PMG 66 Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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Madrid’s Royal Palace

The building that currently stands as Madrid’s Royal Palace wasn’t the original structure created in the 14th century. That building — known as the Palace of Los Austrias — was commissioned and occupied by Charles I and Philip II of the Spanish Royal Family, and would continue to be occupied by their descendants until it was destroyed in a fire in 1734.

The current palace, as depicted on this Spain / Madrid 1979 5,000 Pesetas, was ordered by Philip V of the Spanish Royal Family soon after the original palace burned down. It is comprised of over 3,000 rooms, including a throne hall, the Royal Chemist’s room with several natural medicine cabinets, a royal chapel and several private quarters for the royal family. Although it’s no longer the royal family’s home, the palace is still used for official state ceremonies.

Spain, Banco de España 1979 (ND 1982) 5,000 Pesetas - Madrid graded PMG 67 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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Ishak Pasha

The Ishak Pasha Palace was originally commissioned by Colak Abdi Pasha, the bey — or governor — of the Beyazit Province in eastern Turkey in 1685. Abdi Pasha didn’t live to the end of the palace’s construction. Instead, the plans were picked up and continued by his descendant, Ishak Pasha, who completed construction in 1784 and named the palace after himself.

Over the years, the palace has been used as a government building, an administrative center and even a war fortress. The structure has been renovated several times, which has changed the original historic character of the site that we see on this Turkey 2005 100 New Lirasi. Today, it is open for visitation.

Turkey, Central Bank 2005 100 New Lirasi graded PMG 65 Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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Palazzo Strozzi

Located in the heart of Florence, Italy, the Palazzo Strozzi is a grand free-standing palace that serves as a museum and exhibition venue for today’s populace. It was originally commissioned by the Strozzi Family as a symbol of political power to rival the Medici Family, another powerful force in Florence. Unfortunately, the Elder that commissioned the palace died long before its completion in 1538, and the palace was seized by the Medici family that same year. It wouldn’t be returned to the Strozzi family until nearly three decades later.

The Palazzo Strozzi is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in Florence, so it's no surprise that it’s featured on the back of this Switzerland, National Bank 2006 1,000 Franken.

Switzerland, National Bank 2006 1,000 Franken graded PMG 66 Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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Wilanów Palace

The Wilanów Palace is one of Poland’s most prominent examples of Baroque architecture and Polish history in the country. Originally the royal palace of King John III Sobieski, the grand building survived two world wars and the Polish partitions to become one of Poland’s most important monuments. It serves as a museum of Polish history — one of the first of its kind at the time of opening in 1805 — and displays some of the country’s most prominent artifacts, including Potocki’s equestrian portrait by French artist Jacques-Louis David.

Poland, National Bank 2016 500 Zlotych graded PMG 66 Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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If these palaces inspired you, check out this Collection Inspiration article featuring castles, or our other Collection Inspiration columns for more 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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