Miscellaneous

De La Rue insider reveals insight into banknote design

The Financial Times has an interesting article dated 28 April 2014 in which Andy Sharman interviews Malcom Knight, "former research and development director and now consultant at De La Rue, the discreet British banknote maker that has designed more than 40 per cent of the paper currency to have entered global circulation in the past two years."

Courtesy of Jim "Rubycored" Chen.

RIP: Michel Prieur of Compagnie Generale De Bourse

michel-prieur
It is with great sadness that his family and the employees of Compagnie Generale De Bourse announce the death of the founder and chairman of their company, M. Michel Prieur, following cardiac arrest on 18 March 2014. The religious ceremony was held in Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet Church on 28 March.

While I never met Michel in person, we exchanged many emails over the years and he was an early supporter of The Banknote Book, graciously sending me a hard drive containing thousands of note images from past CGB sales for use in my catalog. In addition to sharing images, he was also generous with his time and provided thoughtful insight into our mutual hobby of banknote collecting. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to his family, friends, and colleagues.

BanknoteNews.com is looking for some tech help

I began BanknoteNews.com years ago when I was the editor of the IBNS Journal and I wanted to have a place to share timely information about new note issues rather than wait months until the print edition was published. I never imagined it would turn into the world's foremost site for international banknote news, but that's what's happened with more than 2,000 page views daily.

The site is currently generated using a Mac program called RapidWeaver 5, which was fine when I was just starting out, but I've since discovered that there are many limitations to this platform, chief among them is that RapidWeaver was never intended to handle a blog with thousands of historical entries. Making a single, simple change to any page requires exporting and uploading the entire site, a process that takes an excruciating 30 minutes or more.

As such, I'm reaching out to the many banknote fans out there in the hopes that someone has the technical knowledge to recommend a modern, extensible blogging platform that will allow me to continue to publish BanknoteNews.com for years to come, adding new features along the way.

Ideally I'd like a platform that can be updated via a web site, not a Mac or Windows application. I'd also like to be able to allow posts by vetted contributors, ability for visitors to post comments, plus have a registration system for visitors with different levels of access to historical information. A forum would be a nice addition, as would an image gallery, and perhaps even a wiki-like database, but those are longer-term wish list items.

If anyone has personal experience using, building, or maintaining a full-featured web site on a platform that's appropriate for BanknoteNews.com, please write to me via the Contact page.

International Currency Grading adopts The Banknote Book catalog numbers

San Francisco - 21 February 2014 - International Currency Grading (ICG) is pleased to announce that they have begun printing The Banknote Book catalog numbers on ICG grading labels.

Saudi_Arabia_SAMA_500_riyals_2003.00.00_B29a_P30_ICG_f

“As a new grading service focused exclusively on world paper money, we offer accurate grading that collectors demand and deserve. The precise and complete identification of the notes we grade is an important part of our service, and The Banknote Book is unequaled in accuracy, detail, and specificity,” said Jaime Sanz, a manager at ICG. “ICG staffers rely upon The Banknote Book as our primary reference source because its editor shares our curiosity, rigorous standards, and love of world paper money.”

According to Owen W. Linzmayer, editor of The Banknote Book, “ICG was looking for detailed, error-free and up-to-date information for their grading labels and I am honored that they have embraced The Banknote Book. When I began publishing my catalog three years ago, I never expected collectors and dealers to abandon the venerable Pick numbers for The Banknote Book numbers. ICG’s decision to print both on equal footing demonstrates they are bringing a progressive new approach to banknote grading services.”

If you would like to try ICG's grading service, use the coupon code TBB to receive a 30% discount.

For more information, contact:

Jaime Sanz
International Currency Grading
London, United Kingdom
http://www.icgrading.com
help@icgrading.com

Valkenburg show report

Owen at Valkenburg
I am happy to report that I thoroughly enjoyed attending and exhibiting at the Paper Money Fair held in Valkenburg, Netherlands over 5-7 April 2013. This was the first time I had ever been to the "Maastricht" show, and it was a great experience. The highlight was meeting in person many of The Banknote Book's contributors and subscribers, such as Frank van Tiel shown at right in the photo above.

I was in awe of the wide assortment of notes on display, from very rare older items to modern notes available in bulk from many wholesale dealers. Never before have I seen so many straps and bricks of notes! I was also taken with the general sense of comradery rather than competition that prevailed among the dealers assembled from the far reaches ot the globe.

My only regret was that I was unable to spend much time visiting with other exhibitors and pouring over their offerings because I had to be at my own table extolling the virtues of The Banknote Book. I did manage to buy a few new additions to my collection, but the best things I brought home were memories of meeting old friends and making new ones in this great hobby of ours.

50% off beautiful banknote-themed wall calendars until 8 February 2013

beastsaircraftbeautiesbirdsboatsbridgesfish
I'm proud to announce the availability of seven thematic calendars for 2013 featuring some of the world's most beautiful banknotes depicting aircraft, beasts, beauties, birds, boats, bridges, and fish.

These 11 x 17 inch colorful wall calendars normally cost $24.99, but with Lulu's limited-time discount, you can buy calendars for yourself and friends for only $12.50 each.

Lulu is offering 50% off all calendars if you enter the coupon code IHEART50 (use all caps) during checkout. Be sure to order before the code expires at midnight on Wednesday 2 January 2013.

Non-US customers: Lulu has different coupon codes for its international stores. Either check the home page for your country's code, or
switch to the United States store so that the above code will be accepted.

IBNS seeks Banknote of 2012 Nominations

The International Bank Note Society (IBNS) would like to remind its members that they have until midnight 31 January 2013 to nominate notes for the pretigious Banknote of 2012 award.

So far the nominations are:

Brazil's 20 Reais Note
Costa Rica's 5,000 Colones Note
Jersey's 100 Pound Note
Argentina's 100 Peso Note
Canada's 50 Dollar Note
Malaysian 5 Ringgit Note

Images can be found on the IBNS web site.

Banknotes nominated must have been issued to the public (specimens and non-circulating currencies are inelligble) for the first time during 2012, and must have artistic merit and/or innovative security features.

To nominate a note (IBNS members only), please email banknoteoftheyear@ibns.biz providing your reasons for the nomination, and if possible, a scan of the front and back of the note.

Beautiful banknote-themed wall calendars

beastsaircraftbeautiesbirdsboatsbridgesfish
I'm proud to announce the availability of seven thematic calendars for 2013 featuring some of the world's most beautiful banknotes depicting aircraft, beasts, beauties, birds, boats, bridges, and fish.

These 11 x 17 inch colorful wall calendars cost $24.99 each.

I personally ordered a bunch of calendars to give as gifts, and I must say that I am very impressed with the quality of the paper (thick) and printing (rich colors), and the beauty of the images (detailed).

CoinWeek video of Maastricht 2012 banknote show

CoinWeek has posted an interesting video created by David Lisot, host and producer of CoinWeek video news service, during a recent trip to Europe attended the Maastricht Paper Money Fair held in Valkenburg Netherlands.

David interviewed many of the participants at the show finding out what collectors have in common with their counterparts in the United States. He addressed the economic situation in Europe and whether the hobby has been affected by the downturn in the workplace and the debt crisis affecting so many countries. He also shows examples of the some of the more popular bank notes collectors are buying.

Courtesy of Aidan Work.

Wanted: Contact info for numismatic publications

I am trying to compile a list of printed numismatic publications which cover banknotes. I know of a few of the major ones in the United States, but am not familiar with international magazines or newsletters.

If you subscribe to such a publication, whether in English or another language, please send me the precise name of the publication, as well as URL, email address, and postal address.

Click here to write to me using the Contact form.

Thanks in advance for everyone's assistance. I'll post the results on a new page in the Links section of this site.

Ottawa Numismatic Society's moneta journals available for free download

The Ottawa Numismatic Society voted unanimously in favour of making its journal, moneta, available to all, for free. To download current and past issues, visit www.ons-sno.ca.

Courtesy of Serge Pelletier.

New Links section added to BanknoteNews.com web site

In the interest of helping spread useful information about the hobby of collecting banknotes, I have assembled the following pages with links to useful web sites. You can access these pages via the Links button at left, or click any of the bullet items below.
If you would like to suggest additional categories of links, please click here to write to me using the Contact form.

Hybrid Term Misused

The following is a letter that I recently wrote to the editor of the International Bank Note Society's Journal. I do not know if it will be published in an upcoming issue, but I thought visitors to this site might find it interesting nonetheless.—OWL

Dear Editor,

I enjoyed reading Marc Riquier's article, "The History of Plastic Banknotes: It All Started in Belgium!" in Vol. 51:1 about the role Union Chimique Belge played in the development of the Guardian substrate popularized by Securency International. However, I have practical and technical objections to the use of the term "hybrid" to describe notes employing Giesecke & Devrient's varifeye or De La Rue’s Optiks.

As a practical matter, Hybrid (with a capital H) is G&D's term for its patented substrate comprised of cotton fibers sandwiched between layers of plastic. To use hybrid (with a lower-case H) in conjunction with different, competing products only invites confusion.

From a technical standpoint, both varifeye and Optiks create see-through windows by applying thin transparent films over apertures in paper substrates (see my articles in Vol. 47:1 and 47:4, respectively). While it's true that the films are polymers and appear on paper notes, the mere addition of a disparate material to the substrate doesn't change the classification of the substrate. If it did, any banknote with a security thread, foil patch, or holographic stripe would be a hybrid.

Collectors should adopt the terminology used by the security printing industry, in which the term hybrid is applied only to banknotes with substrates that are a combination of paper and polymer. G&D's Hybrid substrate certainly qualifies and has already been used on notes such as Swaziland's 100- and 200-lilangeni commemoratives dated 2008. Landqart's Durasafe takes the opposite approach, placing paper on the outside and a polymer core at center. The Swiss National Bank is using Durasafe for its new series of notes expected to be issued in 2013.

Owen W. Linzmayer 7962

IBNS Banknote of 2011 voting open until 18 March 2012


Members of the International Bank Note Society (IBNS) are reminded to cast their votes for Banknote of 2011 prior to 18 March 2012.

The Nominations are:

  • Costa Rica's 1,000 Colones Note
  • South Sudan 100 Pound Note
  • Peru 200 Nuevo Soles Note
  • Kazakhstan 10,000 Tenge Note
  • Canada 100 Dollar Note
  • Bank of England 50 Pound Note
  • Denmark 500 Kroner Note
  • Sri Lanka Rupees 1000 Note
  • Brunei 10 Dollar (Ringgit) Note
  • Tunisia 20 Dollar Note
  • Cayman Islands 50 Dollar Note
  • Gibraltar's 100 Pound note

Click here to see images of the nominated notes and to cast your vote.

While everyone is welcome to view the nominees, only IBNS members may vote.

If you are not yet an IBNS member, I strongly suggest joining today. It’s a great organization and the subscription to the quarterly IBNS Journal alone is well worth the modest membership dues.

CNN interviews De La Rue executive on creating currency

Banknote collectors may enjoy watching this short CNN video in which a De La Rue executive gives a broad overview on the process of creating a new currency.



Courtesy of Chris Huff.

Great article on Landqart, a Swiss banknote paper producer

Check out this BBC article dated 21 September 2011, discussing the details of Landqart AG, a Swiss firm which produces security paper for the banknote industry. The article contains a lot of fascinating details and has several embedded videos, too. Be sure to check out the Related Stories links at the bottom of the web page.

Top 10 world's most beautiful banknotes

China.org.cn has an interesting article on the “Top 10 world's most beautiful banknotes.”

Justine Smith uses banknotes to create art


Check out “The Money Sculptures of Justine Smith” on OddityCentral for a fascinating look at how artist Justine Smith is using real banknotes to create interesting art. Did you recognize the banknotes of Myanmar on the pistol above?

Scan modern notes without CDS problems


Recently more and more collectors have reported problems attempting to scan modern banknotes. The problem is caused by newer hardware and software that contains built-in Counterfeit Deterrence System (CDS) technology foisted upon the public by the Central Bank Counterfeit Deterrence Group (CBCDG), a group of 31 central banks and note-printing authorities. Attempts to scan some modern notes using most newer scanners results in an error message like the one shown above.

I sympathize with the desire to reduce counterfeiting, but limiting the capabilities of new consumer devices punishes everyone while doing nothing to discourage determined counterfeiters. Anyone wishing to scan banknotes can easily do so simply by avoiding the latest generation in computer equipment. Instead of buying a cheap new scanner that performs poorly and is likely hobbled by CDS, buy an older used scanner that works on everything you throw at it. I highly recommend the Epson Perfection 2450 PHOTO which cost $400 when it was brand new, but now routinely sells for around $50 on eBay. This scanner is fast, has excellent color fidelity, and can even scan watermarks and security threads when used in film/slide mode.

If you already have a scanner that you like, but which refuses to scan some modern notes, you can likely replace the manufacturer's provided scanning software with VueScan. This third-party scanning program works with almost all scanners and doesn't prevent you from scanning troublesome notes. It costs $40, but you can try before you buy to ensure it meets your needs.

RIP Mel Steinberg


I am deeply saddened to report that the banknote community lost one of its pillars when Mel Steinberg passed away yesterday morning in Northern California. Mel and his son Jeremy were familiar faces to anyone who attended major banknote shows, and a stop at their booth was always worthwhile, not only to view the fine rarities for sale, but also to chat with Mel, who was generous with his time, sharing wisdom and an easy, knowing smile and twinkle in his eyes. Rest in peace, Mel. We'll miss you dearly…

What constitutes a new type instead of a variety?

As visitors to this site no doubt are aware, I’m working on a new catalog of world notes. As I do so, I am often confronted with the question of whether a change to a note is significant enough to warrant a new type number, or just a new variety letter.

Most collectors agree that if only the date and/or signature changes on a note, it's simply a new variety letter. However, what about a change to the security thread?

If a note was first issued without a thread, then one was added, should it be a new type?

What if the thread changes from a solid thread to a windowed thread?

What if a plain windowed thread changes to a windowed thread with printed text?

How would you like to see such changes addressed? Please explain your reasoning by posting a comment.

De La Rue admits problems at one banknote paper mill

Shares of security printer De La Rue have fallen to a two-year low following the company's admission that it has recently discovered quality and production irregularities at one of its mills—believed to be Overton in Hampshire—which produces the paper used in banknotes. DLR prints notes and supplies security paper for approximately 150 central banks worldwide. Production and shipment of the paper has been suspended while DLR carries out an investigation and attempts to determine if the substandard paper has ended up in circulation.

Book Review: World Paper Money Errors


World Paper Money Errors by Morland C. Fischer (Order from Amazon.com)
250 pages, soft cover, 230 x 150 mm, color illustrations, English, published by Zyrus Press Publishing, ISBN 978-1-933990-25-5

Reviewed by Owen W. Linzmayer

While there are several catalogs covering United States paper money errors, this book is the first attempt at a systematic approach to describing, documenting, and pricing errors on world banknotes. As such, it’s an important new addition to the world’s numismatics knowledge base, but it suffers from some shortcomings I hope will be addressed in future editions.

Author Morland C. Fischer does a very good job of explaining the various types of errors found on banknotes and has distilled them down to an eight-point FEN (Foreign Error Note) ranking system in which higher numbers correspond to more significant errors. Reasonable people might disagree over whether a missing overprint is more dramatic an error than an inverted back (FEN 4 and 7, respectively), but the codification of the taxonomy of errors is a welcome improvement to a subjective field of study.

The bulk of the book is devoted to illustrating the various error types, each broken into their own chapters. I found the introductory explanations of how specific types of errors happen in the production process particularly interesting. The book has color illustrations throughout, usually with the front and back of the error note at 50% actual size, along with a non-error note for comparison. This allows you to see the magnitude of the error and appreciate the artwork and intended design of the reference note, although some illustrations would have benefited by close-ups or annotations to highlight the affected areas of the note. There are lots of examples from many different countries and time periods, which is good overall, but it’s overkill for some types of errors, such as missing serial numbers, which are easy to understand without repetitive illustrations.

Personally, I would have liked to see more plate errors—also known as engraving errors—because I find man-made errors more intriguing than machine mistakes. As a writer and editor myself, I’m amused by the fact that central banks sometimes fail to catch embarrassing typos until after printing and issuing millions of notes into circulation. Alas, there are only a dozen such errors discussed. Entirely lacking are any examples of errors in security features, such as when a thread intended for one note appears in another, or the wrong watermark is used.

Anyone who has contemplated buying an error note will do well to first read the chapter on “pseudo” errors. At first glance these appear to be errors, but may have been intentionally created by unscrupulous collectors/dealers by miscutting individual notes from sheets or using chemicals to alter notes, for example. Sometimes they aren’t errors at all, but rather printers’ waste, proof notes, or remainders. Buyer beware.

Ironically, the author is not immune to making errors of his own. For example, he mistakes the front and back of Ukraine’s 20-hryvan note of 1992 (Pick 107), includes a 1,000-shilling fantasy note from Somaliland without mentioning its dubious origin, and the last few pages of the book are incorrectly set in fonts of varying size, resulting in a jumbled appearance. However these are all minor quibbles; for the most part the content is solid and unassailable.

My main complaint with this book is that author tries too hard to make the case that world error notes are undervalued. He provides a number of possible explanations for the disparity in prices between comparable errors on US and foreign notes, yet ignores what might be the most obvious explanation of all: differences in the values of the corresponding non-error notes. For example, he laments that a foldover error on a United States 10-dollar note dated 1969C (Pick 451d) is worth $1,000 - 2,000 whereas a similar printing error on a Mexican 500-peso note (Pick 69) is valued at $200 - 300. But when you consider that the SCWPM lists non-error examples of the former at four times the value of the latter, the price disparity between the errors doesn’t seem so significant nor unwarranted.

Judging by the passion with which he approaches his subject, it is apparent that the author loves error notes, but his insistence that world error notes are “undervalued,” with “considerable upside potential,” and “could be ready to explode,” comes across as a hard sell by someone with an agenda. I found cause for pause when reading “In some instances, a price may appear to be unusually high. However, prices were chosen to indicate what should be [emphasis mine] the fair market value…Moreover, the assigned price ranges reflect an extrapolation of expected prices over a period of five years from publication.” Pricing non-error world notes is fraught with difficulties (fluctuations in currency exchange rates and differences in foreign/domestic demand for a country’s own notes, for example) which are only compounded when considering far less common—sometimes even unique—error notes and trying to guess what they should be worth far into the future. The book would have greater credibility if it merely reported current free market prices and suggested reasonable premiums a collector might expect to pay for different types of errors.

World Paper Money Errors carries a list price of US$34.95 and can be ordered directly from Zyrus Press Publishing, P.O. Box 17810, Irvine, CA 92623. (888) 622-7823. www.zyruspress.com or purchased from Amazon at a significant discount.

New holographic technology has designs on banknote security

Technology continues to push the boundaries for banknote security holograms. Here, Dr Glenn Wood of the International Hologram Manufacturers Association looks at some of the latest developments.

Today, holographic technology remains very much to the fore as part of an array of overt features which make it quick and easy for people to recognise whether or not a banknote is bonafide. But new substrate technology, particularly the introduction of transparent ‘windows’ is being incorporated on banknotes to provide new levels of anti-counterfeiting complexity.

The commemorative 1,000 Tenge note produced by Papierfabrik Louisenthal for Kazakhstan and launched earlier this year takes optical sophistication to a new level. Not only does it feature a hologram showing typical rainbow colours but a small microlenticular patch viewed by transmission. The system is called Varifeye® and combines the best features of paper and polymer.


The optically variable feature on the new 1000 Tenge note of Kazakhstan showing microlenticular feature in the window and demetallised hologram below.

Previously, a deckle-edge window was created in the paper substrate during the process of cylinder-mould web formation as the stock fibers collect against the deckle, leading to the characteristic feather look. Latterly, the window has been cut into the paper after laminating to a polymeric layer. Then a clear stripe of film is laminated over it running from top to bottom of the note. The clear stripe contains the microlenticular image of a camel interchanging with the letter ‘K’ when tilted.

This feature can be viewed by transmission through the window. There is also a demetallised holographic image of the Astana Baiterek monument above the text ‘Organisation for Security & Co-operation in Europe’, interchanging with the date 2010 which are viewed by reflection where it falls over the paper. (This technology was first used on the Bulgarian lev banknotes in 2005, becoming the world’s first paper notes with see through window).

For polymeric substrates, the Bank of Australia has developed its Non-diffractive Switching Image (NSI). This appears like a dynamic watermark in the clear window of a polymer-based note. Being non-diffractive, the images are seen in varying shades of grey rather than rainbow colours and switching of the image elements occurs by rotation rather than tilting.

Mexico has also embraced new technology – the country’s 100 peso note has an ingenious feature which outwardly looks holographic but is in fact transparent optically variable inks (they are usually opaque) printed on the clear window of a polymer note. The viewer can look at the feature either by transmission or reflection. The inks change colour in both modes but the colours seen by transmission are the complementary colours of those seen by reflection.

The latest innovation in holographic technology which makes use of traditional (though modified) embossing technology is the Asterium feature from Toppan printing in Japan. Viewed in normal direct light this feature appears black but when inclined at an extreme angle, the rainbow colours of an embossed hologram appear. The important feature here is the optical black which gives a new aesthetic to documents and only reveals the colourful security feature as and when required.


Asterium from Toppan uses optical black in conjunction with a hologram.

Another innovator, Kurz, has developed a revolutionary wafer thin security photopolymer which can record a volume holographic image for banknotes produced for Swiss National Bank. Kurz’s success has been to develop the material thin enough for use on a banknote, especially given that the reason this is called a ‘volume’ hologram is that the interference fringes are recorded within the depth of the photo-sensitive material. Similar developments are taking place in Japan where Dai Nippon Printing is leading the way.

OVD Kinegram, a division of Leonhard Kurz, continues to push the boundaries with its Kinegram reColor®. This has been developed for use as a laminate in conjunction with a window or aperture in the banknote substrate, and provides fundamentally different, and unexpected, effects depending on whether the note is viewed from the front or reverse. On the front the viewer sees a normal metallised reflective, diffractive image, while the reverse view shows a patterned coloured foil also displaying the diffractive features. The trick is performed using different coloured resist lacquers in the demetallization process. More remarkable still is Kinegram reView® which appears the same, metallic color on both sides of the image although the images seen on the two faces can be different and unrelated to each other.


ReView from L. Kurz displays different holographic images when viewed from opposite side of a window.

One way or another, it seems that the window technology now becoming available to printers of banknotes is here to stay. Formerly, the opaque nature of security printing paper only allowed a watermark to be seen by transmission but most holograms are, by nature, transmissive and are rendered reflective by applying a metal coating. Once the opportunity is presented to allow them to be seen by transmission, as in a window, the opportunities for an optical tour de force are increased. This renders the note more visually attractive to inspectors and consumers and more difficult to simulate by counterfeiters.

However, here’s a cautionary word. Any trend towards simplification must be seen as a move in the right direction and run hand in hand with artists and graphic designers’ abilities to make good use of the media or of the public’s ability to appreciate and evaluate the security benefits offered by the latest technology. After all, it’s not as though holograms represent the only security feature on a banknote.

They are often one of many - for example, the 1000 Tenge note for Kazakhstan has at least 16 features including one to help the blind or partially sighted. So, it isn’t necessary to fill the hologram with every conceivable feature rather remember why the hologram was originally introduced: it provided a feature that could not be photocopied. Photopolymers provide this, so there’s no reason to suppose that holographic technology will not continue to be an integral security feature on future generations of banknotes.

END

The International Hologram Manufacturers Association (IHMA) is made up of 90 of the world's leading hologram companies. IHMA members are the leading producers and converters of holograms for banknote security, anti-counterfeiting, brand protection, packaging, graphics and other commercial applications around the world. IHMA member companies actively cooperate to maintain the highest professional, security and quality standards.

Issued on behalf of the IHMA by Mitchell Halton Watson Ltd. For further details contact Andy Bruce on +44 (0) 191 233 1300 or email andy@mhwpr.co.uk

IACA Excellence in Currency Awards announced

The following is the full text of a press release dated 25 May 2010:

A new family of banknotes from Scotland’s Clydesdale Bank was one of the outstanding winners at the International Association of Currency Affairs’ (IACA) Excellence in Currency Awards, sponsored by ‘Currency News’.

A high calibre of entries and some very close voting in several categories marked this year’s awards - the third event – the presentation of which took place during the gala dinner on May 12 at the Currency Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The 2010 awards saw the Lifetime Achievement Award go to Roland Tornare, the recently retired director of the Issue Department at the Swiss national Bank (1985 – 2007). His extensive experience in the field of banknote design and involvement in creating the current Swiss banknote series were cited by Currency Conference chairman Richard Haycock, who presented the awards.

Clydesdale Bank won the hotly-contested Best New Banknote Series Award for its family of banknotes celebrating the best of Scotland’s heritage, people and culture. The front of each note honours a prominent and innovative Scot while the reverse features one of Scotland’s five World Heritage Sites. The bank designed the new notes to ensure that everyone, including the visually impaired, could use the notes with confidence, while the use of vibrant colours, different sizes, bold fonts, and raised bars to assist in note denomination has been appreciated by the Royal Blind, a foundation devoted to the welfare of blind people.

Category runners up were the Central Bank of Armenia for its 100,000 Dram banknote and the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey for a new series which completed the country’s currency reform started in 2005.

Clydesdale’s year-long media communications initiative from the launch of the initial designs right through to the introduction of the notes into circulation earned it the Best Currency Public Education Program. The move ensured its new notes were welcomed by consumers and readily accepted by retailers.

The National Bank of Denmark and the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey were category runners-up.

The Best New Coin Series Award went to the Royal Canadian Mint for The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Circulation Collection. In the run up to the Olympics, the Royal Canadian Mint released 12 Vancouver 2010 circulation quarters (25 cents) plus two lucky loonies ($1 coins) - each individual quarter represented a different Olympic Winter sport.

Runner up awards went to two new circulation coin series, issued by the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey and the Reserve Bank of Fiji respectively.

Pixel Watermark, a development of Arjowiggins Security which appeared in the Bank of Mexico’s 200 Peso note commemorating the country’s bicentennial, won the award for the Best New Currency Feature. Printed on paper in a vertical design format and including a multi-tonal watermark in the form of an angel, the wing of which was created with a Pixel™ Watermark, this was the first time such a feature had appeared on a banknote.

De La Rue’s Depth Image and Magic Varifeye® (from Louisenthal) were the competitors who both received runner up awards. Voting results were very close in this category.

For the first time ever there was a tied result for the Best Currency Website. IACA members voted equally for the European Central Bank and the Central Bank of Chile for the detailed currency information found on their respective websites.

While the two sites are very different in their approach and perhaps the resources available for website development, both use video and interactive notes to help their public understand the design and security features preset. The Monetary Authority of Singapore was a close runner up.

Speaking at the awards, Richard Haycock said: “I would like to congratulate all this year’s winners and runners-up for their outstanding contribution to the currency industry.

“All have demonstrated the highest standards of technical expertise and innovation to deliver practical, eye-catching and cost effective currency products, which we as an industry can be proud of.

“This year’s ceremony has been an unequivocal success and I very much look forward to the continuing high standards being recognised at the next awards, which will undoubtedly be even bigger and better.”

The IACA awards were launched in 2007 to promote and recognise excellence in currency production, processing, management and distribution. They are open to any organisation or individual supplying products, services or systems for currency production or management. The IACA awards committee draws up a shortlist of three nominations in each category, and IACA members vote for the winners.

Nominations for the fourth IACA Awards will commence shortly via www.currencyaffairs.org. They will be presented at the next Currency Conference, which will take place in October 2011 in Singapore.

New edition of Standard Catalog of World Paper Money now shipping



The 16th edition of Krause’s Standard Catalog of World Paper Money is now shipping. I just received my copy and wanted to share my initial impressions.

At 1,112 black and white pages, it's exactly as large as the previous edition, though its list price is now $60 instead of $55, and it does not come with a disc containing a PDF version of the catalog, which is a great disappointment.

Also somewhat disappointing is that values for VG conditions have been eliminated. Now only VF and UNC conditions are listed. While some will decry this change, I think it’s a reasonable change because most modern notes collectors insist on UNC anyway.

More troublesome is that this edition continues the trend of covering only a fraction of the new note types and varieties that have been issued in the past years, and illustrating almost none of them. It appears that the cut-off for inclusion in this catalog was mid-2009, but many, many notes issued well before then failed to make it into print (The Banknote Update contains over 80 pages of images and info missing from the 16th edition of the SCWPM).

In an attempt to appear more current than it really is, the catalog has assigned Pick numbers to a lot of "expected issues." The problem with this practice is that many such notes are never released, inevitably forcing the editors to renumber at a future date, much to the frustration of collectors and dealers everywhere (my cursory examination uncovered a half dozen notes that have been renumbered or deleted between editions). Furthermore, the information (such as dates) in the listings for these expected issues often proves wrong, adding to the general confusion.

Speaking of frustrating and confusing, some listings refer to non-existent signature charts, or the signature chart exists, but hasn’t been updated to include the latest signatures, making it impossible to distinguish between varieties.

I haven't done a thorough check of the entire catalog, but a spot check revealed some obvious pricing problems, such as listing Armenia's 100,000-dram note at $250 in UNC, even though its face value is $263. The 50,000-won from South Korea, featured on the cover of the new edition, is worth $40 at face, but is listed at $50 in UNC. Good luck finding dealers selling notes with negative or nominal mark-ups.

Like it or not, the SCWPM remains "the bible" for our hobby because its Pick numbers are almost universally used to identify notes. If you intend to get a copy despite its flaws, please support this site by buying the latest edition using this link.

What in the World is Notaphily?

[All of the content on BanknoteNews.com has been the creation of myself, working in conjunction with avid collectors and dealers around the globe who graciously submit leads, images, and information. Today I'm pleased to publish the first full-length article contributed by Vincenzo Desroches, Editor in Chief of Forex Charts, the premier resource for all of your foreign exchange chart needs.—Owen W. Linzmayer]

What in the World is Notaphily?

Notaphily is the formal term used to describe banknote collectors. While people have most likely been collecting banknotes since they were first used to pay for goods and services, it wasn’t really considered a separate area of collections until late in the 20th century. Even the systematic collection of banknotes didn’t really begin in earnest until about the 1940s.

One factor in determining the value of a collectors banknote is the quality of the actual paper. Collectors can expect different grades to reflect this quality. These different grades will be compiled into a grading scale. While grading scales can change from one country to the next, expect to find uniformity in the grading scale within a particular country. For example, if you’re trading in the United States, you’ll probably find uniformity in its grading scale. However, you would not expect the grading scale in America to be necessarily the same as that of a European country.

The grading system used in bank note collecting refers to the quality of the specific note the collector has in their possession. However, some people might choose to keep track of the underlying value of the notes that are still being used in commerce. Historical currency rates can be obtained to facilitate this. Whether it is a foreign currency chart that is needed or one for your native currency, seeing the current underlying value of your banknote can be an exciting thing!

Regarding the actual collecting of banknotes, you first have to determine what type of collection you’re going to focus on. Obviously, it is possible to have too broad a collection goal. It’s just not feasible to collect every type of banknote ever produced. Find a category of note that you find interesting, unique or exciting and use that to define your collection parameters. It is always good to ease your way into any collecting process. You may want to begin by picking up notes that are inexpensive. This will give you some experience both in finding different types of banknotes and in purchasing.

For example, you might choose to collect notes from your favorite geographical location (city, country, or continent). Or perhaps your focus isn’t on location as much as it is time periods. You might be the one who chooses to collect World War II era notes, or notes produced in the 19th century. Of course, there are people who enjoy the specific features found on notes. They might enjoy collecting notes with certain security features as part of the design. In storing the notes, maybe you have some limitations that require you to focus on notes with certain dimensions.
As you can imagine, you can spend quite some time trying to define what type of banknote collection you’d like to have!

One of the best places to start is to find a currency gallery and start browsing. This will give you some idea of what type of notes you enjoy looking at. After all, if you can’t enjoy your collection once you get started, what’s the point in collecting?

IBNS new Russian-language chapter formed

The International Bank Note Society has announced the formation of a new Russian chapter. According to Dmitriy Litvak, president of the new chapter, "The main difference between the Russian (IBONS) chapter and the other IBNS chapters is that it is based on a linguistic (Russian) base rather than a geographical one. The Russian-speaking community of banknote collectors has at least 3,000 members around the world. This is why we face difficulty in having conferences and meetings as we are in 14 countries. To overcome this, a website forum at www.bonistika.net was created for the spread of collective knowledge. As I have explained before, Bonistika is the term that is used by this community to describe banknote collecting. I am happy to report that since the inauguration of IBONS on 7 February 2010 we have increased our numbers from seven IBNS members and 21 non-members to 10 IBNS members and 37 non-members. I extend my invitation to any members of IBNS to share our ideas and knowledge. My colleagues and I would like to extend our knowledge of the Soviet, post-Soviet, and Russian banknotes to all IBNS. We will be able to collectively work on answering any questions posed. Our main goal is to create and maintain communication between all IBNS members and Russian speaking members of IBONS."

History of Paper Currency in the Seychelles available


On December 2008, the Central Bank of Seychelles published a special second edition of its publication that traces the history of paper currencies in the Seychelles, dating from the period of French colonization to the present.

Entitled “History of Paper Currency in the Seychelles,” the new 55-page booklet, in full colour, should prove useful not only to banknote collectors but also for educational purposes, as it includes a section which describes the flora & fauna appearing on the most recent paper currencies of the islands.

Divided into sections pertaining to marked periods and events in the life of the Seychelles currency, the booklet provides colourful illustrations of the different forms of paper currency used over the years.

Information for the booklet was compiled by a small group from the Central Bank with the help of the National Archives and several individuals who are experts in their fields. They include Adrian Skerrett (conservationist), Dr. Jeanne Mortimer (biologist and conservationist), Julien Durup (archivist and historian), Kantilal Jivan Shah (historian, naturalist, conservationist, artist, photographer, healer, numismatist and philatelist) and Stella Doway (Senior Museum Curator).

In a foreword to the publication, CBS Governor Francis Chang Leng says: “It is a rewarding feat for readers to explore the different varieties, sizes and designs of the various denominations of the Seychelles rupee notes, which have been issued over the years, not forgetting the individuals who were in authority in the country at the time the notes were printed and issued. Not only is this booklet very informative, but it can also be used as a guide for currency enthusiasts.”

The Central Bank of Seychelles sells copies of this book from its web site, but isn’t very responsive to email inquiries, and only accepts wire transfers which are costly and time-consuming. After jumping through a lot of hoops, I was finally able to obtain a few copies of this amazing book, but these have now been spoken for. Good luck to anyone attempting to purchase directly from the CBS. By the way, the CBS web site still shows the first edition of this book, but I believe that has sold out and that only the second edition is currently available.

5th edition of World Plastic Money catalog published


Thomas Krause and Peter Bauer have today released the fifth edition of their book, the Specialized Catalogue of World Plastic Money. Ordering information and a free PDF download can be obtained by visiting www.swschwedt.de/kunden/polymernotes.

IACA announces winners of Excellence in Currency Awards

On May 8, 2007, the International Association of Currency Affairs honored seven individuals and companies at the first ever Excellence in Currency Awards ceremony that took place in Bangkok, Thailand.

•Lifetime Achievement Award: Thomas Ferguson, former director of the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

•Best New Bank Note Award: The National Bank of Kazakhstan, for its complex and highly secure new series launched in November 2006. Runners up were the Central Bank of Sweden, for the new 1,000 kronor launched in March 2006, and the Bank of Mexico, for the new polymer 50-peso banknote issued in November 2006.

•Best New Coin Award: The Royal Canadian Mint, for the Canadian quarter (25 cents) with an image of a pink ribbon in its centre, a collaboration with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

•Best New Currency Feature: Crane’s Motion, an optically variable feature incorporating a micro-lens array for security threads that first appeared on the Swedish 1,000-kronor banknote and has recently been chosen as the primary overt feature for the new US$100.

•Best New Currency Product: KBA GIORI, for ONE, a complete suite of products from banknote digital design through to direct intaglio and offset plate making.

•Best Currency Public Education Program: The US BEP, for its “Color of Money” introduction of the new $10.

•Best Currency Website: The Bank of England, for its newly-designed website, www.bankofengland.co.uk.

Comoros 1,000-franc note named IBNS Bank Note of the Year


The International Bank Note Society (IBNS) is proud to announce the winner of the 2007 IBNS Bank Note of the Year, awarded to the finest banknote issued in 2006. This year’s award goes to the 1,000-franc note issued by the Banque Centrale des Comores, the central bank of the Comoros, an archipelago located between Madagascar and the east coast of southern Africa. Commendations go to the 10,000-tenge note from Kazakhstan and 100-dollar note from the Solomon Islands.

The IBNS Bank Note of the Year is awarded to the banknote which, in the eyes of the judges, has a high level of artistic merit, an imaginative design, and features that present the best of modern security printing (taking into account the value of the note). The Comoran 1,000-franc note impressed the judges with innovative design, well-balanced color, and sensible use of modern security features.

The front of the 1,000-franc note is dominated by a coelacanth, a pre-historic fish long thought to be extinct, that was found living in the waters off the Comoros in recent years. Its discovery put the Comoros at the centre of the scientific world for a short time and remains one of the small country’s claims to fame. Below the piscine curiosity is an aerial view of several islands that make up the country. Predominantly blue, there are red and green elements to the design on the front of the note.

Poetry is common to the entire series of notes to which the 1,000 franc belongs, with a verse appearing on the front and the back of each note. The verse on the front of the 1,000-franc note can be translated from French as:

From our feelings, what you expect I understood
For it is a love that is so absolutely exclusive
That, not to lose you, I hereby consent.
Truthfully, it will be a love
That our times have never seen.

Continued on the back of the note is a further verse which translates as:

I claim these different names which are ours
and if I speak the rainbow
It is to better greet our Indian Ocean sea-mother
whose waves of pleasures brings
to insularity abundance and joy

The final line below the verse identifies the author, Mab Elhad, and the book in which his verse appears: Kaulu la Mwando (meaning First Word in the Comoran language). The book was published in 2004 and the verses of the author, a Comoran policeman, celebrate his Comoran life and nationality.

The back of the award-winning note is dominated by a Comoran man in a canoe, surrounded by red and blue designs of differing character. While the name of the issuing authority is in Arabic on the back of the note, the warning to counterfeiters is in French (reflecting the nation’s French past).

Despite a low face value (approximately US$2.70 at current exchange rates), the 1,000-franc note sports an impressive array of security features. Portions of the design are printed with the intaglio process, imparting a tactile element to the raised ink, along with the latent image created by the BCC embossed above the signatures. Counterfeiting is made more difficult through the use of microtext, incorporation of a perfect-registration device, and the inclusion of Omron rings. The paper contains an embedded security strip that fluoresces under UV light, and a watermark of a crescent moon, four stars, and the letters BCC. Finally there is an iridescent band on the front of the note that can be seen only when tilting the note at an angle to the light.

While the elements of the design, the security features, and the production of the note are not unusual as individual elements, it is the sum of the whole that lifts the note above the ordinary and which made this note a clear winner as the IBNS Bank Note of the Year.

Every nation should strive to create individual masterpieces for their paper money; unfortunately this is not always the case. However, with the issue of the new series by the Comoros, it is pleasing to see that at least one issuing authority is successful in meeting the expectations of banknote enthusiasts around the world. The IBNS congratulates the Banque Centrale des Comores and the designers of its 1,000-franc note.

Cover Add To Cart

For more information, buy The Banknote Book:
At the time of initial publication, this 8-page catalog covers every note (58 types and varieties, including 12 notes unlisted in the SCWPM) issued by the Republique Française Colonies Postes (French Republic Colonial Post) in 1920, the Banque de Madagascar et des Comores (Bank of Madagascar and Comoros) from 1960 to 1963, the Institut d'Émission des Comores from 1975 to 1976, and the Banque Centrale des Comores (Central Bank of Comoros) from 1986 until present day.