Collection Inspiration: Women Writers

Posted on 11/17/2020

Many nations have celebrated female authors by featuring them on banknotes.

Paper money collectors often focus on a particular nation or even a particular series. This column is designed to offer ideas for building a collection of notes from around the world based on a common element. This month, we look at female authors.

Shin Saimdang (1504-1551) was a Korean writer who was the first woman to appear on a South Korean banknote, the one shown here. Because she had no brothers, she was able to receive an education normally inaccessible to women of her time. Her poems include "Thinking of Parents," and she was also a gifted painter.

South Korea, Bank of Korea ND (2009) 50,000 Won graded PMG 68 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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Jane Austen (1775-1817) was an English writer best known for her novels "Sense and Sensibility" and "Pride and Prejudice." All of Austen's novels were published anonymously in their day, as was the custom for female writers. She appears on the back of this British note with a quote from "Pride and Prejudice": "I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading."

Great Britain, Bank of England 2016 10 Pounds graded PMG 67 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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Fatma Aliye Topuz (1862-1936) was a pioneering Turkish novelist and women's rights activist. She is regarded as the first female novelist in the Islamic world. Her works included "Muhazarat" ("Useful Information") and Udi ("The Lute Player"). The back of this modern note from Turkey shows her amid a literary scene.

Turkey, Central Bank 2017 50 Lira graded PMG 66 Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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Mary Gilmore (1865-1962) was an Australian writer best known for her socialist views as well as her patriotism. Her best-known work is "No Foe Shall Gather Our Harvest," published in 1940, when Australia was already involved in World War II. Two lines from the poem ("No foe shall gather our harvest/Or sit on our stockyard rail") are included in the design of this note.

Australia, Reserve Bank 1993-94 10 Dollars graded PMG 55 About Uncirculated EPQ
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Lesya Ukrainka (1871-1913) was a leading Ukrainian poet and playwright. Her plays include "In the Catacombs" and "Forest Song." She had also appeared on a Ukrainian coin and stamp, as well as the Third Series banknote here and a Second Series banknote issued starting in 2001.

Ukraine, National Bank 2014 200 Hryven graded PMG 67 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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Ichiyo Higuchi (1872-1896) is best known for her short stories and is regarded as the first prominent female writer in modern Japan. Sadly, she didn't have the opportunity to write much, because she died of tuberculosis at age 24. Still, the respect she earned for her contributions to Japanese literature earned her a spot on modern Japanese currency.

Japan, Bank of Japan ND (2011) 5,000 Yen graded PMG 70 Gem Uncirculated EPQ★
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Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957) was the pseudonym of Lucila Godoy Alcayaga, a Chilean poet seen on the back of the note here. She was the first Latin American author to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Her works include "Sonetos de la muerte" ("Sonnets of Death"). As a longtime diplomat, she worked in several countries in Europe and the Western Hemisphere.

Chile, Banco Centrale 1994-2005 5,000 Pesos graded PMG 65 Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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Astrid Lindgren (1907-2002) was a Swedish author best known for her children's books, including a series featuring spunky redhead Pippi Longstocking. Her books have been translated into dozens of languages, making her one of the most translated authors of all time. She and her most-famous character are seen on the front of this note.

Sweden, Sveriges Riksbank ND (2015) 20 Kronor graded PMG 68 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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Rachel Bluwstein (1890-1931) was a Russian native who immigrated to Palestine in the early 20th century. Most of her poems were written in the final years of her life, as she struggled with tuberculosis. She was the first female Jewish poet to receive acclaim in Palestine, then part of the Ottoman Empire. She is seen here on this modern Israel note.

Israel, Bank of Israel 2017 20 New Shekels graded PMG 67 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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Other female authors on banknotes include:

  • Juana Ines de la Cruz (1648-1695), Mexican nun and writer: Mexico, Banco de Mexico 2014 200 Pesos
  • Thomasine Christine Gyllembourg-Ehrensvärd (1773-1856), Danish author: Denmark Nationalbank 1986 1,000 Kroner
  • Bettina von Arnim (1785-1859), German author and publisher: Germany - Federal Republic 1991 5 Deutsche Mark
  • Annette von Droste-Hülshoff (1797-1848), German writer and composer, Germany - Federal Republic 1991 20 Deutsche Mark
  • Salome Urena de Henriquez (1850-1898), Dominican Republic poet, 2017 Domincan Republic 2017 500 Pesos Dominicanos Commemorative
  • Selma Lagerlof (1858-1940), Swedish author and Nobel Prize winner: Sweden, Sveriges Riksbank 1997-2002 20 Kronor
  • Raden Adjeng Kartini (1879-1904), Indonesian activist whose letters promoted girls' education: Indonesia, Bank Indonesia 1952 5 Rupiah
  • Karen Blixen (1885-1962), Danish author who wrote "Out of Africa": Denmark, Nationalbank 1999 50 Kroner
  • Nan Shepherd (1893-1981), Scottish writer and poet: Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland 2016 5 Pounds
  • Leah Goldberg (1911-1970), Israeli poet: Israel, Bank of Israel 2017 100 New Shekels

Related Link
Collection Inspiration: Notes that Roar

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