From the Grading Room: Two Beautiful and Interesting Banknotes

Posted on 2/19/2013

PMG Team member Ethan Bickford shares the history of two of his favorite notes that have made their way into the grading room.

Working in the PMG grading room provides the opportunity to view many fantastic notes. This month I would like to share two of my favorites and provide some information that may be unknown to most collectors. Like many collectors out there, it does not take a high value note to capture my eye, often times it can simply be the artwork or the history of the note itself.

One note that I am particularly interested in is the 1935 National Bank of Yugoslavia 1000 Dinara note (Pick#33). The note first perked my interest when I learned that it was never issued. Also, its striking beauty instantly drew me to the note. The face of the note depicts allegorical figures of Education (Left), Peace (Center) and War (Right). The note obviously took significant effort on the part of the artist, but the decision was made for it not to be issued, even though considerable numbers had already been printed. Why?

There is little information available about the National Bank of Yugoslavia during the mid 1930s. But simply by looking at the other notes from this series, and from the 1939-43 series (Pick#35-35F) that follows, I have developed a hypothesis: the Royal Family wanted the King to be pictured on all banknotes issued. Only two notes in the 1934-36 issue (Pick#30-34) did not depict King Peter II, and those two notes were never issued (the other being the 1934 100 Dinara). The entirety of the following 1939-43 banknote issues have a portrait of the King proudly displayed.

This note not only has mystery about its past, but it is also beautiful. A readily available piece of paper money, this note would make a wonderful addition to any collection and could be displayed to appreciate the artwork. This is why it is one of my favorite pieces of currency.

Another piece of currency that really catches my attention is the First Issue 1907 Banco de España 1000 Pesetas note (Pick#61a). This is an absolutely stunning note. It depicts Mercury with the world on his shoulder and a bright full Moon to the right; the beauty of which is only enhanced by the perfect color of the night sky attained by the artist. The back of the note displays allegorical figures for Temperament (Lion) and Wrath (Sword-Wielding Woman).

The back vignette is a formidable statement for a banknote. The powerful imagery on the back of the note is a declaration by Spain that they have a temperament, but also possess wrath as a dominant characteristic. This can be seen in the positioning of the two figures; Temperament is smaller and sits to the left of Wrath, who is seated upon a throne and thus the commanding attribute. It is almost as if Spain is saying “our temper is short, and our wrath is great.” This statement is only enhanced by it being on the highest denomination of the early 1900s series.

Not only a visually stunning note, but this early 1900s note also gives one insight into a country’s self image as the world was emerging into a new century.

I hope this article has inspired you to do a little more research on your banknote collection. It may just redefine what your favorite banknote actually is.

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