The most beautiful paper money of 2018 by International Bank Note Society


For 15 years, the International Banknote Society (IBNS) has been dedicated to choosing the best and most beautiful banknotes in the world. With more than 150 new pieces launched around the world during 2018, only 10% had a design new enough to be nominated.

The organizing institution of the contest decided, by a majority of the votes, that the most outstanding paper money of the last administration was the Canadian $ 10 bill. However, for the first time in the history of the event, four Latin American countries, Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, and Bolivia, entered the prestigious list.

The Latin American bills that are among the most prominent are the 500 pesos, which has Benito Juárez, the first indigenous president in Mexico, on the obverse; the one of 50 pesos of Argentina, that emphasizes the figure of the condor, an autochthonous animal of the Andean zone of South America; the one of 100 Venezuelan bolivars, with the face of Ezequiel Zamora, politician and military of that country; and Bolivia's 20 bolivianos, which highlights the image of Genoveva Ríos, Tomás Katari and Pedro Muiba, three important characters in different battles in the history of the nation.

Although each of these currency papers comes from a different place, it is not strange that they have technical characteristics, design, history, heroes, heritage preservation and flora and fauna. Something that is very relevant is the role of the designers who, when creating these pieces, combine both the functional and security elements, as well as the artistic part, together with the engravers, and that gives a unique character to the paper money. Thus, countries project their history, heritage, and aspirations through these pieces.

To exemplify some of the technical aspects, for example, the banknotes of Bolivia and Mexico. The creation processes are very similar because there are very few companies that provide the machines to print and the inputs. Both are cotton substrate notes. If you look at the front of the 500 peso bill there is an ink like a mobile effect called Sparklife, which is the same ink that is used in the figure of the black alligator [type of crocodile] that you see on the 20 bills. You end up seeing that the innovations that the notes are having right now are the same for everyone. Suddenly there is a country that introduces it, it works well as a security measure and then the others start to replicate it.

It is also no coincidence that the colors of the paper money are very vivid and very marked. The shades of blue, orange, purple and touches of green and pink with gray, for Mexico, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Argentina, respectively, facilitate people with visual impairment so they can be guided better. What emissaries are trying to do is also put bills in increasing sizes. In the page of the Banxico [Bank of Mexico], the current bills are growing 5 millimeters between one and the other. It is to make it easier for people with blindness to identify these banknotes.

Collectors are very focused on the technical part, however, the artistic and aesthetic is a cohesion that matters a lot. The heroes or patriotic figures are a constant in three of the Latin American banknotes that are part of the selection of the IBNS, with the exception of the Argentine one. The 50 pesos belongs to the family of paper money called indigenous animals of Argentina, with an illustration of this Andean bird in full flight on one side and the other an artistic recreation of Cerro Aconcagua, located in the west of the River Plate country.

People in Mexico are accustomed to appearing a character or a main hero in the notes, not three like in Bolivia. This design is a new trend in which your country has not yet dabbled, but it is a feature that will be implemented. As in the 200 pesos, which will show on the obverse to Miguel Hidalgo and José María Morelos, heroes of Independence, while one of 1,000 pesos will highlight on one side Francisco I. Madero, one of the most important figures of the Revolution Mexican, Hermila Galindo, feminist pioneer, and the revolutionary Carmen Serdán. For a theme of diversity, but above all for an equity issue, these changes are also made. It is a good way to question why there are no more women in paper money and it is also a way to expand the national pantheon.

Another element that these bills hold in common is the preservation of historical and natural heritage. In the case of the Bolivian note, there is the black caiman, an endangered species, the fort of Samaypata (Quechua appellation of origin, which means resting place in the height) and the Toborochi, a tree that paints the city with its flowers of Santa Cruz in the Bolivian east as the jacaranda in Mexico City.

This type of detail is also shared by the 500 peso notes, with the El Vizcaíno nature reserve in Baja California Sur, a sanctuary for the gray whale, one of the most characteristic species of the seas and coasts of this Mexican state, and the of 100 bolivars, which shows the spider monkey of the North, another animal in danger of extinction, and the Guatopo National Park in the background, important refuge of the jaguar, in the background.

The historical, architectural, cultural or natural heritage, many people do not know it. These bills are showing us something we have and we are not knowing how to care for, preserve and know.

With information from El Pais. Images: Courtesy of

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