Featured Note of the Month: September 2018

Posted on 9/18/2018

Israel note honors author Shmuel Yosef Agnon while remembering his literary masterpieces.

1988 Israel 50 New Sheqalim (Pick# 55b), front
PMG graded Superb Gem Uncirculated 68 EPQ
Click image to enlarge.

1988 Israel 50 New Sheqalim (Pick# 55b), back
PMG graded Superb Gem Uncirculated 68 EPQ
Click image to enlarge.

Country: Israel
Catalog Number: 55b
Date: 1988
Denomination: 50 New Sheqalim
Varieties: In addition to the 1988 variety, this note was issued in 1985 and 1992 (Pick numbers 55a and 55c, respectively). There is also a commemorative version (Pick number 58) released in 1998 celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the State of Israel.

What makes it special? This note is part of the new sheqel series introduced in Israel in 1985, after higher denomination notes had been printed to keep up with severe inflation in the early 1980s. The new series essentially cut zeroes from the old sheqels in order to simplify transactions. The note's design honors Shmuel Yosef Agnon, an author whose works focused on the conflict between traditional Jewish life and the modern world. He was the first Hebrew writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize in literature.

Why is it interesting now? The Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are celebrated in the month of September. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, began on September 9th and ended on September 11th. Yom Kippur, known as the Day of Atonement, is a period of fasting and repentance for sins and occurs on September 18th-19th this year. Shanah Tovah and Tzom Kal to our readers who observe these holidays!

Did you know? If you look carefully at the back of the note, you can see Hebrew microtext below the depiction of a Jewish shtetl (village). The microtext is a list of Agnon's 18 books. One of his books, entitled Shira, is about a middle-aged history professor suffering a midlife crisis. He meets and begins a love affair with a hospital nurse named Shira as way to escape the boredom of his daily routine. Agnon began writing Shira in the 1940s, but he never completed it. It was published posthumously in 1971. After its publication, the name Shira became more popular for Israeli girls.

Total graded by PMG: 50 notes

PMG median grade: The median grade for these notes is 66.

PMG highest graded: 68

Sales highlights: These notes are available ungraded for about $20 each.

PMG Registry: The Bank of Israel set in the PMG Registry is the place to go for this note, containing all Israeli banknotes 1955 to date.

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