Taking a look around the world of currency, it’s common to see former or current heads of state grace the bills. But what about some of the more unique choices? these are some of the most interest people on banknotes.
Viola Desmond – Canada, $10.00
Viola Desmond was a Canadian civil rights icon. Years before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Alabama, Desmond refused to leave her seat in a whites-only section of a movie theatre in Nova Scotia on November 8th, 1946. The movie theatre was sectioned in a way that seated white people close to the front and people of colour in the balconies. Viola was nearsighted and couldn’t see from the back. When she refused to leave, she was dragged out, arrested, and fined. Sixty-three years later, the government of Nova Scotia gave Viola a formal pardon and apology.
The new $10.00 bill was unveiled on March 8, 2018, and will enter circulation later this year. It marks a few firsts in Canadian currency; the first vertical bill, the first regularly circulating banknote issued by the Bank of Canada to depict a Canadian woman as the subject, and the first black person ever featured.
Albert Einstein – Israel, I£5.00
Albert Einstein was a German-born physicist famous for an array of scientific theories and projects. Namely, he developed the theory of relativity, he created the formula for mass-energy equivalence (E=MC₂) and worked on the Manhattan Project during World War Two which eventually lead to the creation and detonation of the Atom Bombs.
The Einstein I£5.00 (Israeli pound) banknote was first issued on January 13th, 1972. On the reverse side of the bill is a picture of the atomic reactor at Nahal Sorek (Nuclear Research Centre). The Israeli pound was replaced in 1980.
Fatma Topuz – Turkey, ₺50.00
Born October 9th 1862, Fatma was a Turkish novelist, essayist, humanitarian, and feminist. She is credited with being the first Turkish female novelist. Her portrait has been featured on the reverse of the ₺50 Turkish lira banknote since 2009. The decision was controversial since Fatma is the first ever woman on a banknote as well as the first novelist. However, most of the controversy lies in the fact that Fatma wasn’t actually the first female novelist. Zafer Hanim wrote one novel before Fatma. Since Fatma had written several, she was chosen instead.
George Best – Northern Ireland, £5.00
Northern Irish banknotes are a denomination of the pound sterling. Northern Ireland has been making their own notes since 1929. The Ulster Bank issued a commemorative banknote in November 2006 featuring the late football player George Best. This was the first ever commemorative banknote and only one million £5 notes were circulated.
Best was a winger for Manchester United and Northern Ireland national team. He is considered one of the greatest players of all time and was one of the first players to become as much a celebrity as an athlete in the public eye. Best passed away in November 2005 at the age of 59 due to multiple organ failure as a result of alcoholism. He was known for his style on the field, his goal-scoring ability, off-field issues, and charisma.
Caroline Chisholm – Australia, $5.00
Caroline Chisholm was born in England on May 30th, 1808. She was a humanitarian best known for her work for female immigrant welfare in Australia. As a young newlywed, Caroline moved to Windsor in 1838 and became aware of the obstacles that female immigrants faced when they arrived at the colony. Without money, friends, family, or jobs, many young women ended up working on the streets. Caroline set up a home for women in Sydney and continued to set up more homes throughout the country.
Caroline and her husband gathered over 600 statements from people around the colony and published some of them back in England. They used the statements and their observations to rally the government for change.
Edvard Munch – Norway, 1000 kr
The honour of being the face of the most valuable krone goes to the expressionist painter Edvard Munch. Very few people haven’t seen his famous painting “The Scream” painted in 1893. In addition to painting, Edvard was also a printmaker. His work greatly influenced German Expressionism and was honoured with a knighthood of the Royal Order of Olav.
Edvard, along with many other expressionist artists like Picasso, were labeled “degenerative artists” by the Nazis and Edvard was the victim of Nazi raids where his home was invaded and art was stolen. However, his most famous paintings “The Scream” and “The Sick Child” were safely hidden from them. Edvard died January 23, 1944, at 81 years-old.
Cesária Évora – Cape Verde, $2,000
Cesária Évora was a pop singer from Cape Verde whose music career lasted from the early 60’s right until her death in 2011. She continued making music even after she suffered a stroke in 2008. She was nicknamed the “barefoot diva” because she was known to kick off her shoes and perform without them. Cesária was an international success and had many fans in Portugal, France, Italy, Poland and more! She sang in Portuguese and French.
On December 22nd, 2014, the Banco de Cabo Verde honoured Cape Verdean artists with a new series of banknotes that featured musicians, writers, and politicians. Cesária Évora was chosen to be featured softly smiling on the $2,000 escudo banknote.
Nikola Tesla – Serbia, 100 dinars
Nikola Tesla was an inventor and scientist who is most well-known for his contributions to the development of electricity. He designed the modern alternating current electricity supply system and the Tesla Coil. A Serbian-American who excelled in the fields of electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, invention, and physics.
Tesla devoted his life to inventing, researching, and experimenting with wireless lighting, wireless communication, and other inventions for the future. He passed away on January 7th, 1943, in a New York hotel. He was 86 years-old. Tesla’s picture is on the obverse side of the 100 dinar banknote. On the reverse is part of the Tesla electro-magnetic induction engine.
Cut Nyak Meutia – Indonesia, Rp1,000
Meutia was an Aceh fighter and national hero. She was skilled in martial arts and battle strategy and was a large part of the Indonesian rebellion against the Dutch colonization. She was devoted to Indonesian independence and used her three marriages to support the cause. She divorced her first husband for being a Dutch sympathizer. Her second husband was a commander in the army. Alongside him, she organized battle strategies, rallied and fought alongside the troops, and became a face of the revolution. When he was captured and executed, Meutia remarried his comrade and continued her work until she herself was killed in battle on October 24th, 1910.
Meutia is seen as a symbol of pride, independence, and the female spirit of Indonesia. On December 19th, 2016, Meutia was honoured in the “national heroes” series of banknotes. She is on the obverse side of the green-yellow bill. The reverse side features the Tifa dance and Banda Neira.
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