Collection Inspiration: Sports

Posted on 2/16/2021

Who says world banknotes are all work and no play?

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 sports.

The United States just wrapped up its most popular sport, (American) football, with the Super Bowl. Preparations continue for the 2021 Summer Olympics in Japan as well as the World Cup soccer tournament, set for 2022 in Qatar.

Soccer (which most of the world calls football) is among the sports that Singapore featured on this 10 Dollar note from its 4th Series. Other sports honored on the back of the note were swimming, tennis, running and sailing.

Singapore, Board of Commissioners of Currency ND (1999) 10 Dollars, graded PMG 64 Choice Uncirculated
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Soccer is the most popular sport in the world. Russia issued this colorful commemorative note to celebrate its hosting of the 2018 World Cup tournament. France defeated Croatia there to win its second World Cup title.

Russia 2018 World Cup Commemorative 100 Rubles, graded PMG 65 Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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There are over 200 national teams associated with FIFA, the premier body for the sport that organizes the World Cup. Even lightly populated island nations like the Maldives (south of India) field teams. This note from the Maldives shows the sport's popularity there.

Maldives 2017 5 Rufiyaa, graded PMG 66 Gem Uncirculated 66 EPQ
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Soccer is also popular in Kenya, whose national team plays most of its games in Moi International Sports Centre in Kasarani. Kenya’s leaders were so proud of the construction of the 60,000-seat stadium in 1987 that they put in on the back of the 20/- Shillings note.

Kenya, Central Bank 1988 20/- Shillings, graded PMG 66 Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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Another stadium that invokes national pride is shown on this Macau, China banknote. It celebrates the iconic Beijing National Stadium, commonly referred to as the Bird’s Nest. The architectural wonder held events for the 2008 Summer Olympics and will be utilized again for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Macau, China 2008 Beijing Olympics Commemorative 20 Patacas, graded PMG 69 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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The previous Winter Olympics were held in South Korea in 2018. That nation finished a respectable sixth in the overall medal count, with 17 medals, most of them in speed skating events. South Korea put the spotlight on speed skaters with the 2,000 Won it issued to celebrate those Olympics.

South Korea 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Games 2,000 Won, graded PMG 68 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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Before South Korea, the previous Winter Olympics host was Russia, which celebrated the 2014 games with this note. The Russians won four medals in events for snowboarding, which is celebrated on the front of the 100 Ruble notes it issued to celebrate the Games. The back shows Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi.

Russia 2014 Sochi 2014 Olympic Games 100 Rubles, graded PMG 66 Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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The men’s and women’s teams from Canada each took home the gold medal for ice hockey at the 2014 Olympics and also earned medals in the 2018 Olympics. Hockey first flourished in Canada in the late 19th century, and it remains so popular today that Canada showcased it on the 2006 $5.

Canada, Bank of Canada 2006 $5, graded PMG 66 Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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After soccer, cricket is the most popular sport in the world, with about a quarter of the planet being fans. This Barbados note celebrates Barbados native Sir Frank Worrell, who was knighted for his services to cricket. He went on to serve as a Jamaica senator. The back of the note shows the Three Ws Oval cricket field in Barbados, which pays tribute to three great cricket players whose last names begin with W: Worrell, Sir Clyde Walcott and Sir Everton Weekes.

Barbados, Central Bank 2013 5 Dollars, graded PMG 67 Superb Gem Uncirculated
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Another popular sport around the world is rugby, which is shown on this Fiji 7 Dollar Commemorative. It celebrates Fiji’s Rugby 7s Gold Olympians. The team's victory at the 2016 Olympics was the first medal for the Pacific Island nation, so some celebration was in order.

Fiji, Reserve Bank 2016 (ND 2017) Commemorative 7 Dollars, graded 66 Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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Finally, though it’s difficult to find sports on notes in the United States, this $2 from a Vermont bank in the 1860s might make you smile. It shows two cherubs who appear to be engaged in some sort of gladiatorial combat involving silver dollars.

Jamaica, Vermont 1860s $2 Remainder, graded PMG 63 Choice Uncirculated EPQ
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Speaking of coins, (the website for PMG’s coin-grading affiliate) featured an article last year about sports that have been depicted on coinage. You can find that article here.

Other articles in this series

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Check out our article detailing the most expensive sports cards ever sold.

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