Paper Money of the World

Paper Money of the World

Money! I was on Amazon buying bulk cat litter for my ScoopAway litter tray, and stumbled across a merchant selling a “set of 100 different world banknotes” for $29.95. I have been thinking about collecting engraving and decorative papers as inspiration for making “productivity bucks” for an as-yet-to-be-determined use (“it would be cool!”)…

A few weeks later, a zip-lock bag filled with 100 different banknotes of various Eastern European, Southeast Asian, and Central/South American vintage arrived in the mail. I brought it to the Nashua Jelly, and a few of us spent the day identify the banknotes that didn’t have any English written on them. The most mysterious of all was the one with an old image of Jesus on it from the disputed enclave of Nargorno-Karabakh, which is somewhere near Armenia, which is somewhere, uh, well, I’ll look it up later.

Checking out the MoneyNargorno-KarabakhSome other bills

I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to store and sort these notes, so maybe it’s time to browse archival library supply catalogs filled with wondrous odd-sized envelopes and indexing materials. And I actually need to collect examples of paper money that are from first world countries, which weren’t included in my 100 banknote pack because they actually have significant value. It’s a lot of fun to explore countries through their money, because a nation’s currency is in some sense its life blood and EVERYONE sees it. The oldest and most respected of traditions tend to be imbued into their design, and the level of craftsmanship that goes into the making of a banknote to deter counterfeiters makes them marvels of paper engineering and printing. What’s not to like about that?


  1. Darren 11 years ago

    and Armenia was the first christian nation apprently

  2. Lynn O'Connor 11 years ago

    I just forwarded this to my husband who is an archivist. And I imagined (before reading your plan) a gorgeous painting (or collage, whatever you call it)made of the right arrangement of the paper money. Very cool Dave. You continue to amaze me.


  3. Dave Seah 11 years ago

    Darren: Interesting! For some reason I thought it was Italy, but of course there is the enormous Eastern European tradition that went a different path. I keep forgetting!

    Lynn: You should grab yourself some! They’re fun to have around. I wish I had a place to display them somewhere. I am hoarding them to study. There’s a local paper collage artist named Bonnie Guercio who has great eye for this kind of thing, and knows a lot about paper, which I find very exciting.

  4. Rachel 11 years ago

    If you just want them for inspiration, you could work from scans instead of the real thing, right?  I bet some of your overseas readers would be happy to scan their currency and email them to you!  I would be happy to do that for Australian and New Zealand money.

  5. Sam 11 years ago

    The top banknote on the rightmost image intrigued me – I recognized it as a Bulgarian banknote of 25 lev. In presentday currency that would equal some 12 USD, but this note was issued in 1951 and Bulgaria went through a few currency changes after that. So I doubt it is worth anything these days, a bit like million or billion mark German banknotes dating from the hyperinflation days during the interbellum.

    The intriguing part is that it is a ‘25’ banknote which is becoming more and more unusual these days. When the Netherlands went from Guilder to Euro 8 years ago, the 1 – 2.5 – 5 – 10 system was replaced by a 1 – 2 – 5 – 10 system (like the US banknotes – though the quarter coin is still used).

  6. Stanley Moore 11 years ago

    I suggest that you google Ron Wise.  He is the webmaster of a website affiliated with the American Numismatic Association.  His site has pictures and catalog numbers of a huge collection of banknotes from the beginning of time to tomorrow.  He also has quite a number of reputable links to a variety of sites useful to novice collectors.  From his site as a starting point, you can surf all day every day finding sites devoted to every aspect of collecting paper money.  We’re not as large a community as coin collectors but we’re growing awfully fast and someday soon will eclipse the scrap metal collectors.

  7. Petteri 11 years ago

    The whole history of paper money is intriguing and I believe that the end for Dollar and Euro might be closer than we think.

    One good blog where I have personally found lots of information about what really is happening in the economy at the moment is ZeroHedge.

    We are not running short of the actual paper money any time soon though, Ben & Co. will take care of that, only the value is going to disappear.

  8. Alekzander 10 years ago

    The dram of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic had never been issued for official circulation and Armenian dram is used as normal monetary unit.

  9. Elise 10 years ago

    You blogged about the Disputed Enclave!

    How awesome is this?!?!?

    This was a fun, fun afternoon.