European Bank Notes


The euro is useful because it has simplified travel to Europe but I miss the old pre-euro currencies. To have a wallet full of romantic and exciting sounding notes made you feel like a true international traveller. I liked the French franc and the Spanish peseta and the Greek drachma of course but my absolute favourite was the Italian lira simply because you just got so many.

When going on holiday to Italy you were, for just a short time anyway, a real millionaire. The first time I went to Italy, to Sorrento in 1976, the notes were so worthless that it was normal practice for shops to give change in the form of a postcard of a handful of sweets.

My most favourite bank notes are probably from Switzerland.  Everyone knows that the Swiss are fond of money and they leave no one in any doubt of this with the quality of their notes.  Not only are they brilliantly colourful but they are printed on high quality paper as well and one is thing for certain – these notes are not going to fall apart easily.

Another interesting thing about the Swiss Franc is that there is something about it which prevents it being scanned and half way through the process the scanner stops and produces a message on screen that it cannot copy a bank note.

Foreign travel and different bank notes remind me of my dad’s insistence on always returning home from foreign holidays with currency for his personal memory box.  Even if it was 90˚ in the shade and everyone was desperate for a last drink at the airport dad was determined to bring a souvenir note or coin home and would hang on with a steadfast determination that would deny last minute refreshment to everyone so long as he could get his monetary mementos back home safely.

How glad I am of that because now they belong to me and now my own left over bank notes from my travel adventures have been added to the collection.

41 responses to “European Bank Notes

  1. The relatively new Dutch guilder notes were superceded by the euros. It was a loss in that they were rather attractive, with bird images.

  2. Sounds like a precious collection in more ways than one 🙂 Great take Andrew.

  3. What a great answer to the photo challenge!

  4. Our Adventure in Croatia

    great souvenirs!

  5. Such artistic expressions in notes. I see why these make wonderful souvenirs–and sooo colourful!

  6. I think the US currency is the most drab of any I’ve seen. No wonder it’s called “dead presidents” in slang, We’ve finally been updating and introducing some security measures. They even added a slight hint of color, but it’s still pretty dull.

  7. Andrew I really liked the Italian lira because when I think of it I have to laugh at myself. On my first European trip when I was paying the hotel bill in Italy I almost had a cardiac arrest when presented with the total. I think I coughed, sputtered, turned red and finally the kind gentleman behind the counter got out his calculator and helped me with the exchange ….basically I put my eyeballs back in my head. I was such a newbie.

    • It was my first trip away ever and the currency was wonderful with such huge sums involved in even the smallest transactions. In the shops they would sometimes give postcards or sweets for change instead of cash!

  8. I always recall that the Dutch guilder was the first bank note I encountered that was readable in braille. I always figured that it was designed to help me not get ripped off in the 40 watt gloom of the ubiquitous “hospitality rooms” in the red light quarters that are de rigueur in EVERY Dutch city!
    There is another bit of “trivia” for you, Andrew. Except of course – like the Lalnfair PG info I just posted on another page of yours – it is far from “trivia”: these bits of info are FAR more important than knowing the current Bank Interest Rate or knowing what gasses make up the atmosphere!
    One thing re the excellent presentation of the bank notes above: would it be possible to see the OTHER SIDE of the notes too? I guess they are not totally image-free?
    If they ARE, then fair enough.
    Thanks again Andrew, for a neat post.

  9. No Aussie Dollars then? But I am partial to the Croatian Ten Kuna 😀

  10. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Change | Have Bag, Will Travel

  11. I do miss seeing kids and grown ups collect things like currencies, stamps, various cards…nowadays it’s all digital… those banknotes from your collection look so interesting and they almost want to tell us stories 🙂

  12. I think we shall see the return of the old currencies one day. I an fairly sure that I have read newspaper articles fairly recently about people still using the drachma, mark and lira nowadays rather than the euro.

  13. I still have money from some of my early travels that doesn’t exist anymore. I like to display it in an old jar. It makes me happy to look at it like its a souvenir.

  14. Pingback: Treasure | Have Bag, Will Travel

  15. Scrapbook a good idea! Last year I rooted out an old hand written journal of my first ever trip to Nepal, meeting my wife’s parents. Blogged around 12 episodes of “When Nepal was a Kingdom”. My favourite currency was from Dubrovnik around 1990 when a gang of 8 of us had a bill for over a million of their currency for 8 ice creams! We drew lots for who kept the bill but I didn’t win.

  16. Hev ye nae a Scottish one?

  17. Whenever I see anyone with interesting currency, I approach, hold out my hand, and ask “May I?”

    When they hand it over, I run like hell.

  18. I remember getting sweets for change in Italy. I agree that they were like collecting stamps for the pictures. Just they were worth more than stamps and you ended up giving them to some shopkeeper for his collection.
    Great post Andrew.

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