Paper Money

Bank of Albania to release first polymer notes

The Bank of Albania revealed its first new bank notes in 20 years on Sept. 19. They will be made of polymer for the first time and will be printed by De La Rue. One of them, the 200 lek will be the first ever Albanian banknote to be produced on the printer’s extra secure Safeguard substrate to increase the popular denomination’s durability.

The six notes are: 200 lek, 500 lek, 1,000 lek, 2,000 lek, 5,000 lek and 10,000 lek. (The 1,000-lek note is the equivalent of a little more than $9.00 in U.S. funds.)

The first denominations, the 200- and 5,000-lek notes, were to enter circulation starting Sept. 30. The 10,000- and 1,000-lek bank notes will be issued beginning in 2020, the 2,000-lek note in 2021, and finally, the 500-lek bank note in 2022.

The new series maintains the traditional designs of its predecessors. They call attention to social, economic and political milestones in Albanian history, in which the individuals portrayed are combined with motifs related to their lives, work, place and era in which they lived.

Design subjects, in chronological order, are:
➤ 2,000-lek note: The ancient Illyrian period with a portrait of King Gent.
➤ 5,000-lek note: The so-called Skanderbeg period. Skanderbeg was a 15th century military commander who became a symbol of Albanian nationalism and well-known in numismatics for his appearance on Albania’s 20-franc gold coins of 1926 and 1927.
➤ 1,000-lek note: The Middle Ages with a portrait of Pjetr Bogdani, the 17th century writer of original Albanian literature.
➤ 200-lek note: The National Awakening of 1831 to 1912 with poet, writer, and patriot Naim Frashëri.
➤ 500-lek note: The independence movement, featuring the first prime minister, Ismail Qemali (1912 to 1914).

Beyond the basic design, the new notes are markedly different. The colors have been refreshed and the subjects are reconfigured to make the notes look more modern. The bank states the underlying idea was to “create a contemporary banknotes series, whose design strikes a balance between innovation and tradition.” 

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