World History and Culture Through Banknotes

*** February 2021 New Article on Eritrea and the Sycamore Fig ***

*** January 2021 New Article on the Pyramids of Meroe in Sudan***

*** December 2020 New Article on the Bailiwick of Jersey***

*** November 2020 New Article on St. Thomas and Prince***

The Banknote Den presents "The Many Faces Of Money", a collection of short essays describing different aspects found on the face of banknotes from all over the world. The focus is mainly on the primary feature of each banknote and includes articles on:

  • Biographies of persons whose portraits are shown
  • Explanations of uncommon objects such as tribal masks
  • Informative histories of strange buildings
  • Retelling of legends on commemorative issues
  • Explanations of unusual practices depicted
  • Common yet unfamiliar design elements
  • History of people and places around the world
  • Links between North America, South America and European liberation symbols
  • An explanation of different security features found on many banknotes
  • A list of many superstitions concerning several aspects of money in general

These essays will focus on the main feature of who and what is actually depicted on the banknotes. Each article is designed to maintain interest and arouse curiosity by being short, yet informative. Whatever your fancy, political intrigue, human rights activism, war stories, love stories, religious studies, fables from ancient days almost forgotten, they are there, staring millions of people in the face, their stories waiting to be discovered, unfolded and uncrumpled from your pocket. With a little inquisitiveness you too can learn the stories from the Many Faces of Money.


Just click on the links to begin reading stories about "The Many Faces Of Money".




Read about Buzkhashi: The National Sport of Afghanistan commemorated on this banknote.



Also Published in the SPMC Journal No. 321

The grim legend of Rozafa Fortress in the City of Shkoder.



Luís Vaz de Camões, Poor Aristocrat, Soldier, poet, and his constant companion: Misfortune.



David Melangi's aboriginal artwork and its meanings.



Also Published in the IBNS Journal 50-3

Explore the legends and mysteries of Gyz-Galasy, the Maiden Tower, an ancient and mysterious building in the port city of Baku.



Also Published in the IBNS Journal 57-1

The story behind the struggles of Adolphe Sax and his invention of the Saxophone.



Also Published in the IBNS Journal 50-2

Discover the Amazon with Candido Rondon, as he traversed the jungles putting up telegraph wires and making friends with the local tribes. Candido was also the person who took then ex -U.S. president Roosevelt down the River of Doubt.



Discover the "Wheel of Life" fresco painted by Zaharij Zograf, the most famous painter of the Bulgarian Renaissance.



Read the story behind the Aboriginal sculpture of "Raven and the First Men".



Meet Xiang Luo, the precoscious child who taught Confuscius.


Congo D.R.

Some details about the fearsome looking Tshokwe Mwana Pwo Tribal Mask.


Cook Islands

Read the entertaining legend of Ina and the Shark, shown on this three dollar banknote.



Learn about the amazing scientist Roger Joseph Boscovich, structural engineer, Newtonian physicist, geologist, diplomat, burgeoning particle physicist, astronomer, and in his spare time, a poet.



Meet Jan Zizka - aka - John One-Eye! A military commander of great skill, who may have been the first to use a primitive style of armoured tank, and was the first to write a code of military conduct for his troops.



The story behind the great storyteller, Hans Christian Andersen.



Elizabeth Fry, a tireless worker who crusaded for prison reform at a time when it was most desperately needed. She also campained for homelessness, workhouses, mental asylums, nursing, convict ships, etc.


Eritrea 5 Nafka

The Sycamore Fig tree: learn about this trees wasp-ish relationship with the natural world, the origin of the Nafka and how the Eritrean government helped fight human trafficking.



Karl Ernst Von Baer, a renowned scientist in the fields of geology, entymology, zoology, physiology, embryology, meteorology, etc.


Faeroe Islands

Venceslaus Ulricus Hammershaimb fought and worked for the Faeroese language to be adopted as an official language in the Faeroe Islands. It took almost 100 years!


Fractional Currency of the United States

Did you know the USA had banknotes in denominations of less than 1 dollar? Here's why.



Urbain Le Verrier, the discoverer of the planet Neptune.


French Equatorial Africa

Want to be a leader? How about being in charge of at least 7 different countries in Africa and the Carribean? You could learn a thing or two by reading about Felix Eboue.


French West Africa

France's own "Scramble for Africa" lead to controversial outcomes.


French West Africa - 25 Francs

Touareg Horsemen of North Africa



Also Published in the IBNS Journal 52-1

Omar Bongo, Gabon's long lasting and controversial president.


The Gambia

The Gambia's Stone Circles - A unique and fascinating series of monolithic construction.



Also Published in the IBNS Journal 56-1

Here is Tamar, the the 12th centruy female king of Georgia, who is still a beloved ruler.



The story behind the famous "Vampire Banknote" of the German Weimar Republic.


German Notgeld from Oberammergau

A promise to God, kept continuously since 1634!



Also Published in the IBNS Journal 53-2

Yaa Asantewaa, the Queen Mother for the Ashanti People.



Also Published in the IBNS Journal 59-2

Guinea's 50 Francs independence issue featuring PresidentAhmed Sekou Toure and an intriguing Sande Mask.



Tarik ibn Ziyad, the conquering Moor who helped make Spain a world power.


Guinea Bissau

Also Published in the IBNS Journal 53-3

Amilcar Lopes Cabral, a political leader who fought for independence for Guinea Bissau and Cabo Verde.



Sanite Belaire, the revolutionary heroine of Haiti.



Lady Hazel Laverly, the woman who orchestrated the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, while her husband painted the dignitaries.


Isle Of Man

Read about the history of the Isle of Man, and the beautiful Peel Castle.



The story of Marconi's wireless radio and the effect on the world.



Nanny of the Maroons - a fearsome warrior who fought against British rule in the Carribean.



The Seven Lucky Gods of Japan - The Shichifukujin!



The favorite of the 7 Lucky Gods on Hansatsu: Daikokuten!



Banknotes designed by a famous artist under German Occupatino in WWII



Sayyid Hussein bin Ali - the Sharif of Mecca, and the dangers of dividing conquered lands.



the Kazah Bard, Kurmangazy - Musician, poet, composer, and continuing inspiration to the Kazakh people.


Korea - South

King Sejong the Great - A man who really did deserve the title.



The Dog River - the Nahr el Kalb, is a site that history has fought over for many years. Inscriptive carvings, or stelea, have documented several of these passages through time.



The founding father of Lesotho, King Moshoeshoe I, fought long and hard against colonial European nations.



William Tubman’s policies steered Liberia through the 20th Century, bringing success to the national economy, well past his lifetime.


Liberty Cap

This Symbol of freedom started in 1200 B. C. and continues to this very day.



Julija Beniuseviciute – Zymantiene, the celebrated Lithuanian Author



The Baobab Tree.


Maryland Colony

William Eddis and his long, fraught trip home.


Massachusetts Colony

Henry Dawkins and Isaac Ketchum - Counterfeiters who foiled a plot against George Washington.



Venustiano Carranza, a revolutionary president.


Yucatan, Mexico

Also Published in the IBNS Journal 58-4

The Green Gold that was Henequen.



Early railroads in the Northern USA



Stefan Cel Mer - Cousin of Vlad the Impaler, who was a warrior king of his nation.



The hero Damdin Sukhbaatar, who won independence from China.



King Mohammed V, who worked to gain independence from French occupation.



Hendrick Witbooi's rise to power and his fight against German colonialism.



The Nyatapola temple in Bhaktapur.


New Hampshire Colony

Ebenezer helped perform the last act of the Royal Government in all of New Hampshire. And then became a great revolutionary.


New Jersey Colony

As a Quaker, Isaac Colins was kicked out of his church for taking any side in the Revolutionary War - but his printing business became an important tool in the war for independence.


New Zealand

Sir Edmund Hillary and his trek up Mount Everest.



Spanish treatment of the indigenous people in the New World was atrocious, and the efforts of early leaders such as Diriangen to thwart the invasion were brave, if not sucsessful.



Herbert Macaulay founded the first local Lagos political party the Nigerian National Democratic Party, which advocated an independent Lagos government.


North Carolina Colony

Also Published in the SPMC Journal No. 313

John Ashe, printer of this banknote, and the most chivalric hero of the Revolutionary War.



Tupac Amaru II and his fight against the Spanish in the 1700's.



Casimer the Great, the only Polish king to have been awarded the title of “Great” while living.



Bartolomeu Dias was a Portuguese explorer who captained the first ship to sail around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern end of Africa.


Portugal 50 Escudos

A short biography of Raihna Santa Isabel, Elizabeth of Portugal: A queen who became a saint.



The Babylonian Note - a banknote embedded with communist propoganda.



Juvenal Habyarimana the only dignitary whose portrait has ever been on a Rwandan banknote.



The Royal Bank of Scotland, St. Andrews and Old Tom Morris.


Sierra Leone

Bai Bureh and his fight against British Colonialism.



Jurij Bartolomej Vega, a Soldier, Author, Professor, Mathmetician.


South Africa

This may, or may not, be the portrait of the early colonial governer, "Jan" Van Riebeeck.


South Sudan

Also Published in the IBNS Journal 52-3

The Civil War Leader John Garang appears on their first banknotes.


Spain 5 Pesetas

One of Spain's best rulers, King Alfonso X.


Spain 100 Pesetas

The tragic life of painter José Domínguez Bécquer.


Sri Lanka

The Temple of the Tooth at Kandy.


St. Pierre & Miquellon

Emile Gentil, had nothing to do with St. Pierre & Miquellon.


St. Thomas & Prince

From a prison colony to a prosperous African nation.



Learn about the pyramids of Meroe in Northwest Sudan.



Find out many of the strange and curious superstitions about money throughout the world.



Also Published in the IBNS Journal 57-3

The story of Anton de Kom and his fight for equal rights for his fellow Surinamese in a colonial state.



Africa's last absolute monarchy is held by King Mswati III.



The Father of the Nation, Gustav Vasa.



Known as a moral and fair ruler, Saladin still had his limits.


Tea Brick

What's this have to do with the price of tea in China? Well, for one, tea was money.



Taufa'ahau Tupou IV reigned for 41 years in the island nation that was never colonised by a western power.


USA 10 Cents

William Morris Meredith, on the ten-cent fractional currency, held many political offices, including Secretary of the Treasury.


USA 20 Dollars -1914

Updated with new information 04 DEC 2017

Discover the wonderful Transportation Vignette on the back of this classic banknote - and find out which vehicles were used as the inspiration for the engravings!



The troubled life of Luisa Caceres de Arismendi and her part in the war for independence.



Also Published in the SPMC Journal No. 318

Mpundu Mutembo - The real Chain Breaker of Zambia - and his plight after Zambian independence.






Banknote Serial Numbers

Not all serial numbers are quite so boring. Errors, radars, repeaters, etc are often sought after by collectors for their uniqueness and value.


Micro Printing

Hidden printing as a method to thwart counterfeiting.


USA Portraits

A simple list of who is pictured on modern US currency.


USA - Token

The token commemorating John Dix, and his many legal and military posts.


Ultraviolet Printing

Hidden images on banknotes to thwart counterfeiting.



More hidden images used to thwart counterfeiting.