The Evolution of the American One Dollar Bill

This video was recently posted on YouTube: The Evolution of the American One Dollar Bill. Some real beauty's here! And I never realised that the very first dollar note from 1862 didn't have George Washington on the front but Salmon P. Chase who was Secretary of the Treasury from 1861-1864 and used the note for better recognition of his face to further his political career. 

Steven Saturday 21 January 2017 at 1:56 pm | | links | No comments
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Manuela Pfrunder on designing Swiss banknotes

Designer of the new Swiss banknotes, Manuela Pfrunder, sheds some light on the difficult process of designing new banknotes for Switzerland. A fun read in German or translated by Google in English.

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Steven Friday 30 December 2016 at 10:17 am | | links | No comments
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Secrets of the new RBS banknotes

I found two links to some really nice background articles on the design process of the two new RBS banknotes from Scotland on the IBNS forum. It provides a very entertaining look behind the scenes.

- How "Fabric of Nature" Scottish bank notes were designed 

Hidden secrets in new Scottish £5 banknote revealed by designers

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Steven Friday 04 November 2016 at 2:59 pm | | links | No comments

A look inside the vaults of the Bank of England

On Tuesday 13 September 2016 the new polymer 5-pound note will be issued to the British public at last. Because of that historic moment a very nice article has appeared on the site of The Telegraph. A look inside the vaults of the Bank of England and a rare insight into the process of getting the new banknote into the hands of the British citizens. I especially liked the photos of places most people never get to see. 

The oldest banknote from 1697 and the new polymer 5-pound. (Credit: Heathcliff O'Malley)

Steven Sunday 11 September 2016 at 10:02 pm | | links | No comments

Bank of England Museum reopens Banknote Gallery

If you plan on going to London in the near future, you can now visit the Banknote Gallery of the Bank of England Museum. The gallery has been completely refurbished and its opening today coincides with the launch of the new and first polymer 5-pound banknote next week.

Historic notes, sketches and unique banknote artwork, printing plates and test prints will all be on display.

In the new gallery you can:

  • Discover the origins of paper money in ancient China, and how the ‘running cash’ notes of sixteenth-century Britain became the precursors to our modern banknotes. 
  • Find out the story behind the ‘Inimitable Note’ competition: a quest at the beginning of the 1800s to create a banknote that couldn’t be copied, and the many intricate and beautiful designs that were the result.
  • Explore the complex designs that make banknotes difficult to counterfeit, and how cutting-edge technology is used to create the Bank of England’s newest note, the polymer £5.
  • Trace the lifecycle of your banknotes from initial design and manufacture to destruction and recycling.

Steven Wednesday 07 September 2016 at 10:53 am | | links | No comments
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Cold-war banknotes in the event 'they' had won

What would have happened if the Cold War had turned into a Hot War and the armed forces of the Warsaw Pact would have steamrolled into Western Europe? More precisely and on-topic: what kind of banknotes would I have used living in the Netherlands?

I love to ponder these 'what if'-questions, to explore the road not taken. Luckily sometimes we get a glimpse of that alternative universe. The Narodowy Bank Polski (National Bank of Poland) has for the first time made public what banknotes would've been in our pockets if countries like Denmark, the Netherlands and West-Germany would have been captured by the Warsaw Pact. Surprisingly they would have been Polish!

"Codenamed E-17, the crisp notes were issued in the 1970s and kept locked in chests deep in the bowels of Poland’s central bank. They were classified as top secret until 2015. (...) Emblazoned with the skylines of several Polish cities, the notes range in value from one to 2,000 zloty and will be on public display at the national mint in Warsaw as of next year."

I am very glad these events haven't come to pass... But then again, from a historical and numismatical perspective, how cool are these notes?!

Steven Wednesday 24 August 2016 at 1:09 pm | | links | No comments
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Competing Central Banks in Libya

The Guardian reports that a rival Central Bank in Libya might issue competing banknotes. This will certainly help to solve the already chaotic situation in Libya...

"A political battle between the UN-recognised Tripoli government led by Fayez Sarraj and the Tobruk-based parliament loyal to General Khalifa Haftar in the east has led to parallel splits in the country’s financial institutions, with two central banks threatening to circulate rival Libyan dinar banknotes in the country.

De La Rue, the Basingstoke-based currency printer and a long-term supplier of notes to the Libyan government in Tripoli, sent 70m dinars, worth about $50m, to the country last month and is in the process of delivering a further 1bn dinars before and during Ramadan.

A rival bank governor in the east, Ali Salim al-Hibri, once recognised as the bank governor by the IMF, claims to have printed 4bn dinars worth of banknotes with the help of the Russian state.

The two currencies would have different serial numbers, security details and watermarks, diplomats say. The danger is two central banks flooding the country with conflicting currencies that are not interchangeable in banks. They are also likely to worsen inflation. Food inflation has reached 14% a year."

Update 29 May 2016: I deleted the previous posted images. The images below are the notes issued by the rival central bank. The are slightly different from the already issued new notes: the new notes have different security features, watermarks, and serial numbers and are printed in Russia. The two central banks have apparently agreed to supervise the issue of new notes. The new notes are expected to be issued from 1 June 2016. 

Update 11 July 2016: The "Russian" 50-dinars notes used in the west can be distinguished from the "British" ones used in the east because they have uniform serial numbers instead of ascending and lack the seal at the left top of the front.


'British' note


'Russian' note

Steven Monday 23 May 2016 at 11:31 am | | links | Two comments
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Swiss won't abolish the 1,000-franc note

Good news if you happen to be a criminal in search for ways to transport your dirty money in a convenient way. The Swiss National Bank (SNB) has announced that it will not follow the example of the European Central Bank when they announced the end of their highest denomination. The 500-euro note might be coming to an end but the Swiss 1,000-franc note will be available to us all. In a matter of speaking for most of us...

"The cabinet argued that the Money Laundering Reporting Office (MROS) had also not received any information on the illegal use of high-value banknotes."

Steven Monday 23 May 2016 at 11:21 am | | links | No comments
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Scientist finds mistake on Turkish 5-lira banknote

The Hurriyet Daily News reports that Nobel laureate Aziz Sancar has found a mistake in the DNA helix on the Turkish 5-lira note.

"Speaking during a visit to schools in Istanbul’s Üsküdar district on May 21, Sancar said the left-handed Z-DNA helix on the reverse of the banknote mistakenly wound from left to right. He added that he informed the Central Bank about the mistake five years ago but there had been no change yet.

Issued on Jan 1, 2009, the left side on the reverse of the 5 lira banknote features a portrait of Turkish scientist Adnan Sayili along with pictures of the left-handed Z-DNA helix, atomic symbols, the solar system, and hand figures.

Sancar, who currently works at the University of North Carolina, was among three scientists awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2015 for their work on DNA repair. He won the prize along with Tomas Lindahl and Paul Modrich for their work in mapping cells that repair ultraviolet damage to DNA. The research marks an important step in the quest to beat cancer."

Steven Monday 23 May 2016 at 11:05 am | | links | No comments
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Innovia Group buys Australian secure ink maker

Bloomberg reports that Innovia Group will buy Barroven, an Australian maker of secure inks. This move is seen as Innovia trying to secure the supply chain needed for making polymer substrate used for polymer banknotes.

Innovia is responsible for 99.9% of all polymer sheets used for making plastic banknotes. From its new facility in Wigton, Innovia will be manufacturing the new polymer banknote substrate for the Bank of England beginning with the £5 note due to be issued in September 2016 and the new £10 note in 2017.

Steven Wednesday 11 May 2016 at 1:43 pm | | links | No comments
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Critique on plans for the US dollar redesign

Edward Rothstein, a critic working for The Wall Street Journal, has written a very interesting opinion piece on the proposed redesign of the US dollar notes. If you recall, the plans are for the 5-, 10- and 20-dollar notes to get a big makeover with several new faces added the notes, amongst them no less than 8 women who played a part in the abolishment of slavery, civil rights movement and women's right to vote. 

His critique is both directed at the choice and combination of people ("a potpourri of portraits") but also the incoherent imagery the dollars will get.

"Alexander Hamilton, the founding father of America’s economic system, stays on the $10 bill, but the institution on the back—the U.S. Treasury—will now appear as a backdrop for the 1913 Women’s Suffrage Parade, accompanied by images of almost a century of suffrage leaders (...) The Treasury is on the back of Alexander Hamilton’s bill because he was the first Treasury secretary and helped shape conditions for the prosperity and power that the building represents. Now that structure will be the backdrop for an event that has nothing to do with Hamilton or the monetary system."

It's a very interesting observation in my opinion. I for one am very curious how the designers of the new note will deal with all the different images they want to show. 


Photo: German actress Hedwig Reicher wears the costume of "Columbia" with other suffrage pageant participants standing in background in front of the Treasury Building in Washington, District of Columbia, on March 3, 1913. The performance was part of the larger Suffrage Parade of 1913.

Steven Sunday 08 May 2016 at 09:20 am | | links | No comments
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Women on banknotes

In light of the recent announcement of the return of women on US banknotes, data analysts from Statista have done research which countries have women on currently circulating banknotes. The map below is the result of this investigation. 

Infographic: Women On Banknotes Are A Rarity | Statista


Steven Friday 06 May 2016 at 9:19 pm | | links | One comment
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German emergency issues

First of all, happy New Year to everybody! To start 2016 right, here's an interesting story on the German emergency issues of 1960 and 1963.

One of these notes would be a great addition to my collection but I'm not sure if it's 100% legal to own one after reading the article.

Steven Friday 08 January 2016 at 09:44 am | | links | No comments
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De la Rue cuts banknote printing capacity

The biggest banknote printer in the world, De la Rue, has announced it will cut its banknote printing capacity by a quarter, according to this article in the Financial Times. De la Rue will close its banknote plant in Malta leaving only the factories in the UK, Kenya and Sri Lanka. About 300 people are expected to lose their jobs because of this reduction.

Steven Saturday 05 December 2015 at 11:39 am | | links | No comments
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An Illustrated History of American Money Design

Gizmodo has a very nice article (with beautiful pictures): The Illustrated History of American Money Design. Definitely worth a look.

Steven Monday 23 November 2015 at 11:57 am | | links | No comments
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