Paper Money

Competition opens for 2021’s top bank notes

Award season is in progress for more than just the movies, as two paper money organizations, one for collectors and the other for professionals, have released lists of nominations for outstanding bank notes of 2021.

The International Bank Note Society and the International Association of Currency Affairs focus differently. The IBNS issues a single award, the Banknote of the Year, for new notes that have artistic merit, imaginative design, and new security features. IACA’s Excellence in Currency Awards cover three categories — best new bank note or series, best new commemorative or limited circulation bank note, and best new currency innovations.

Only two notes out of 23 were mentioned by both: Mexico’s 20-peso commemorative note for the 200th anniversary of independence, replicating an anonymous painting of the entrance of the army into Mexico City on Sept. 27, 1821; and Azerbaijan’s 50-manat note dedicated to education and the future, showing children, stairs as a symbol of rising, the sun standing for power and light, and chemical and mathematical elements symbolizing science.

The notes being considered in the IACA balloting are:

Best new bank note or series: Costa Rica Series B 2,000-, 5,000- and 20,000-colon notes, the Azerbaijan 50-manat note, Mexico’s 1,000-peso note, and Qatar fifth series 1-, 5-, 10-, 50-, 100-, 200-, and 500-riyal notes.

Best new commemorative or limited circulation bank note: Namibia’s N$30 note for the 30th anniversary of independence, Mexico’s 20-peso note for the independence bicentennial, Guatemala’s 20-quetzal note celebrating the nation’s independence bicentennial, Indonesia’s 75,000-rupiah note for 75 years of independence, and Singapore’s $20 bicentennial note.

The only candidate in IACA’s best new currency innovation category was Honduras and G+G/Louisenthal for their 200-lempira note and registered security thread.

The IBNS entrants besides Azerbaijan and Mexico thus far are: China’s 20-yuan Olympic commemorative note with figure skaters, the Cook Islands $3 note with a woman riding a shark, England’s Alan Turing £50 note, Kazakhstan’s 20,000-tenge note, Macao’s 20-pataca note for the Beijing Olympics, Oman’s half-rial note with wildlife, Peru’s 100-sol note, Romania’s 20-lei note featuring the first real woman to appear on its currency, Sao Tome and Principe’s 200-dobra note, Saudi Arabia’s 200-riyal note, and the Royal Bank of Scotland’s £50 note with Flora Stevenson.

The IBNS is still accepting nominations from its members at The winner is usually announced in the spring.

IACA delegates will vote to select the winners, which will be announced on Feb. 22 in conjunction with The Banknote and Currency Conference in Washington, D.C.

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