The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 18, Number 38, September 20, 2015, Article 10


I had a feeling we'd get a lot of responses to my question about denominations named after people. Here's a sampling. -Editor

Jorge A. Proctor writes:

In the article "The Explorer, Conquistador, and the Currency" by "Aris Maragoudakis (Currency Specialist), she writes (about Panama's paper money): "The denomination itself is named after Balboa. To our knowledge, this is the only form of currency named after a specific person". This statement is not true. In fact, the currency of Nicaragua is named Cordoba, being named after a specific person (it is named after Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba, the founder of Nicaragua).

Alan Luedeking wrote as well:

Another obvious example is the Nicaraguan Córdoba, named after the Spanish Conquistador Francisco Hernández de Córdoba, who conquered the territory now known as Nicaragua in 1524 and founded the principal cities of León and Granada there. Ironically, he was a contemporary of Balboa's and suffered the same fate: running afoul of Pedrarias Dávila he was beheaded.

The Córdoba, as a denomination, was instituted in 1912 through a complex refinancing deal involving the New York banking firm Brown Brothers. Here's an image of Córdoba from the only crown ever issued by Nicaragua.

1912 Córdoba_obv 1912 Córdoba_rev

Ralf Böpple writes:

There are a lot of currencies named after real people in Latin America alone: The Venezuelan Bolivar (VEF), for whatever it may still be worth, named after Simon Bolívar.

Then there was the Ecuadorian Sucre (ECS), who got his name from yet another prominent leader of the independence movement in South America, until the country dollarized in the year 2000.

Maybe somewhat less prominent may be the Honduran Lempira (HNL), named after a local chief who fought the Spanish conquistadors.

Definitely the most prominent is Costa Rica's Colón (CRC), which is named after nobody less than Christopher Columbus. Also, El Salvador's currency was called Colón (SVC), but is being replaced by the USD.

Nicaragua's Córdoba Oro (golden Cordoba) or NIO is named after the founder of the country.

The Paraguayan Guaraní (PYG) is named after a whole people, so strictly speaking it does not make this list!

Fabrizio Raponi writes:

I think we can find other cases in coins in history. The “antoninianus”, a silver and later billon roman coin, was introduced by the roman Emperor Caesar Marcus Aurelius Severus Anotoninus Pius Augustus, nicknamed Caracalla. The “aurelianus”, a billon roman coin introduced by Caesar Lucius Domitius Aurelianus Augustus known as Aurelian. All the way to the Maria Theresa Thaler a silver Austro-Hungarian coin declared in 1857 to be an official trade coinage.

The remain in the world of banknotes, I think we have the Bolivar in Venezuela, after Simon Bolivar, the Colon in Costa Rica named after Christopher Columbus known as Cristobal Colon in Spanish.

We could mention the “Renminbi” which literally means "The People’s Currency”. So, in a broader perspective this denomination is named after everyone in China :) J Moving away from people we find currency named after animal like the Guatemalan Quetzal which is named after the national bird of Guatemala: the “resplendent quetzal”. It goes all the way back to the ancient Mayan culture when the quetzal bird’s tail feathers were used as currency.

Interesting thoughts. I added the Bolivar to the list and started a separate list of coin-only denominations, since the original statement was mainly about banknotes. If we were to start a list of denominations named after birds, I guess the U.S, Half Eagle, Eagle and Double Eagle would qualify as coin names, although those are semi-official nicknames rather than explicit denominations, which are in dollars. -Editor

Pete Smith writes:

How about the French gold coins, Louis d'or, named for Louis XIII? Also:

Francois d'or
Frederick d'or
Friedrich d'or
Leopold d'or
Maximillion d'or
Stanislas d'or
Wilhelm d'or

Iran has a denomination named for Muhammad Trier (German State) had a Petermenger named for St. Peter

Frank Crowe of Williamsburg, VA writes:

How about Costa Rica’s Colon, named after another explorer, Christobol Colon, AKA, Christopher Columbus.

Martin Purdy also suggested the Bolivar, Colon, Lempira, Córdoba, Sucre and Louis d'or. He writes:

How about the Louis d'or and the Napoleon? The Maria Theresia Thaler sort of fits, too.

Thanks, everyone. So here are the complete lists. I've left off some like the Napoleon, which was not the official name of the denomination. -Editor

Demoninations Named After People

  • Balboa, Panama (Vasco Nunez de Balboa)
  • Bolivar, Venezuela (Simon Bolivar)
  • Colon, Costa Rica (Christobol Colon, AKA, Christopher Columbus)
  • Cordoba, Nicaragua (Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba)
  • Lempira, Honduras
  • Muhammad, Iran
  • Sucre, Ecuador

Coins Named After People

  • Antoninianus, Ancient Rome (Emperor Caesar Marcus Aurelius Severus Anotoninus Pius Augustus [Caracalla])
  • Aurelianus, Ancient Rome (Caesar Lucius Domitius Aurelianus Augustus [Aurelian] )
  • Francois d'or
  • Frederick d'or
  • Friedrich d'or
  • Leopold d'or
  • Louis d'or
  • Maximillion d'or
  • Stanislas d'or
  • Wilhelm d'or
  • Petermenger (Trier [German State]) (Saint Peter)

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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