Paper Money

Albania completes its series with final two bank notes

The final two notes in Albania’s new currency series, a 500-lek note and a 2,000-lek note, were released Jan. 17.

Images courtesy of the Bank of Albania.

The final two notes in Albania’s new currency series, a 500-lek note and a 2,000-lek note, were released on Jan. 17.

They complete the six-piece series that was released in stages beginning with the September 2019 release of the 200- and 5,000-lek notes, followed by the 1,000- and 10,000-lek denominations in June 2021.

The 500-lek note is the equivalent of $4.70 U.S. and the 2,000-lek note the equivalent of $23.50.

All the series’ notes are printed by De La Rue and they are Albania’s first to be made of polymer. The theme of notable national figures and moments in Albanian history is retained from the preceding series, but with more sophisticated security features and design elements. The bank says that this evolution and improvement is intended to create a contemporary banknote series, with designs that strike a balance between innovation and tradition.

The face of the 500-lek note has a portrait of Ismail Qemal Bej Vlora (1844 to 1919), a prominent leader of the Albanian national movement and the first prime minister of independent Albania; a double-headed eagle as on the independence flag; and a stylized image of the pen with which the Independence Act was signed.

The back has a view of the building where the Provisional Government of Vlora worked, which today is the National Museum of Independence; and a stylized image of the room where the decision to declare Albania’s independence was made, and of the telegraph used to transmit the news.

The 2,000-lek note has a face showing a laureate, helmeted head of King Gentius of Illyria (181 to 168 B.C.). He was the last recognized Illyrian king, before he was defeated by the Romans and captured. He is known to Albanians as a statesman, a warrior, and a scientist in the field of medicine. Before his defeat, he enriched the treasury and had bronze coins minted with his name.

The back displays elements of ancient architecture found in Albania; Gentiana lutea (great yellow gentian) — a medicinal herb, whose healing properties were discovered by King Gentius; and stylized detail of a Liburnian ship.

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