Last Chance to Nominate

The latest nomination for the Banknote of 2018 is the
China's 50 Yuan Note

Swiss 200 Franc Note
CHF 200 Front

 Nominations close on 31st January 2019. 

Do you know of a note issued in 2018 that should be nominated?
Send your nomination to

IBNS Journal 57-4

is avaialble to download: Articles cover The Work of Brian J White, Italian Occupation in Greece 1942-1943, Municipal Coupons of Arsoli and Macau-BNU Replacement and Error Notes 1981/1984 Login to download your copy.

Latest Banknote of 2018 Nominations are

Russia's 100 Rouble Note Bolivia's 20 Bolivianos Note Norway's 500 Kroner Note Mauritania's 50 ouguiya Note Venezuela's 100 Bolivares Note

View all Nominations
Send your nominations to


A History of Printed Money

Article Index
A History of Printed Money
Receipts representing Money
First Use of Paper Money
First European Banknotes
Problems for the Public
The Battle with Counterfeiters
Early Security Features
High Denomination Banknotes
Enhanced Security Features

These conditions presented the public with new problems. How could the man on the street know which banknotes were good and which were not? Newspapers helped by publishing lists of issuers and the discounts applicable to their banknotes. Banks, many of which circulated their own banknotes, also traded information. And, overlying the official networks, rumor often played a major roll in determining transaction exchange rates. Even a hint someone’s wife’s friend had trouble exchanging a banknote with an issuer was enough to undermine confidence in the issuing agency – driving some issuers to undeserved, premature bankruptcy.

Overall, however, the public’s skepticism was well founded. Not only did some governments and other issuers of banknotes circulate banknotes with accumulated face values exceeding reserves, some of the more unscrupulous issuers circulated money with no backing at all – counting instead on less-knowledgeable users accepting them without questioning the note’s provenance.

Unscrupulous issuers had a bag of tricks to avoid redeeming their banknotes. One method was to issue good money printed on poor-quality paper - the issuer hoping the paper would disintegrate before it was redeemed. Another was for the issuer to change addresses or even move to a different town. Or, issuers would circulate notes with sound specie backing and then, when their banknotes were well established, abscond with the backing gold or silver.

Not least were the counterfeiters. A few good artists made and circulated reproductions meticulously drawn by hand - a method which, given the amount of labour involved and the difficulty of reproducing a printed product, was probably not practiced extensively. Recognizing an opportunity, would-be counterfeiters were a problem from the beginning, whether in China or Europe. Edicts are known specifying death to counterfeiters dating from the first kingdoms issuing money. The earliest known Chinese banknotes carried warnings against counterfeiting, implying they too had to contend with the problem.

Elaborate engraving was not well developed when banknotes were first issued in Europe. Indeed, until about 1820, most banknotes tended to be rather crude – which meant they could easily be duplicated. Some early issues were so widely copied the counterfeits in circulation outnumbered legitimate banknotes. With public confidence in the balance, banknote designs became more sophisticated. Unfortunately, so did the counterfeiters.