The Australian Personal Finance blog Money Hacker published a nice article recently on The Intricate Art of the Banknote
Early banknotes had very little on them – usually just some indication as to what the value of the note was – but gradually over time, and as the ability to print and engrave paper became more sophisticated, the images on banknotes became more complex. They also became more symbolic. The images printed on the banknote could be used to make a political statement about the producer. Iconography could be used to comment about their stature, their power, and their significance.
Looking back over the development of art on the banknote, certain trends start to appear. Many designs have been tried out, but some common themes emerge. Animals, historic events, famous places and famous faces seem to be the most common images depicted.
This commemorative 10 dollar note from Australia, produced in 1988, remembers the settling of Australia. The front shows HMS Supply anchored in Sydney Cove with the early colonialists in the background. The reverse of the note depicts an Aboriginal Australian youth covered in traditional markings.
The front of this 500 rupee bill from India has a portrait of Gandhi, while the reverse has a commemorative image of Gandhi's famous Salt March to Dandi – a non-violent protest against the British taxation of salt in colonial India on March 12, 1930.
If you were going to print money, who would be the first person you would think about putting on the currency? The obvious choice is the ruling King, Queen or Leader. This has been the case since the earliest history of banknotes, which often featured a prominent representation of the ruler.
This 100 roubles Russian note pre-dates the Russian Revolution and commemorates the ruler Catherine the Great. The image establishes her legend as a great monarch.
To read the complete article, see:
The Intricate Art of the Banknote
Wayne Homren, Editor
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