Merry mintages

 Merry mintages
Merry mintages

The history, architecture and culture of cities and towns throughout the world can be the catalyst for daydreams about a trip around the world. If such a journey is on your wish list but you lament the lack of time or money to make that wish come true, don’t give up yet.

Paper money collectors can still take that journey without setting aside piles of cash or making airplane reservations.

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BRAZILIAN 1,000-cruzado note issued in 1987 features a scene of Rio de Janerio in 1905 on the back of the note.

World paper money featuring images of towns and cities is a terrific way to see the world. (So, actually, you’ll be amassing some cash, but you’ll want to keep it in albums rather than spend it.) Collecting by topic is a popular way for paper money collectors to approach the hobby.

Topical collecting involves selecting a theme, and then building a collection around that theme, which can be almost anything.

After selecting a theme, collectors should consult such books as the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money. Members of the American Numismatic Association can borrow reference books such as this one from ANA headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo.

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HARBOR SCENE of Mar del Plata in Argentina is featured on the back of a 5,000-peso note.

Sometimes these books are also available in a local library. Coin and paper money dealers often offer for sale reference books listing world paper money.

Collectors who are serious about building a topical collection should consider purchasing books related to their interests.

Many nations have issued notes depicting a city, town or village scene. While the city may not be the central focus of the note’s design, if you look closely you can spot the houses, apartments, huts and other buildings that make up a community. Some designs depict aerial views while some are close-ups of a specific architectural feature with homes and other buildings in the background.

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BACK OF 10-rial Oman note of 1996 shows a view of the ancient city of Nizwa.

Some of the notes are current, still in circulation in their issuing countries. Others are no longer current, but can still be found in the secondary market.

A quick look through the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money netted nearly 40 different countries issuing notes featuring views of cities and villages, with some nations issuing several denominations featuring different cityscapes as part of the note design.

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Merry mintages
Merry mintages

BACK DESIGN on the Brunei 10-ringgit note issued in 1989 shows waterfront village with mosque in the background.

Here is a brief list of nations offering such notes: Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burundi, Croatia, Czechoslovakia, Czech Republic, Faeroe Islands, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Katanga, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Macao, Macedonia, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Singapore, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Western Samoa, Yemen and Yugoslavia.

The notes issued in the late 1940s by the Faeroe Islands feature some of the most interesting designs.

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BANK OF PORTUGAL issued this 50-escudo note in the late 1960s featuring back design showing the old city of Conimbria.

These 18 islands are located in the North Atlantic about 250 miles due north of Scotland, positioned between Iceland and the Shetland Islands. The islands are a self-governing community within the kingdom of Denmark.

The designs are rustic, clearly pen and ink drawings of scenes around the islands. But the starkness of the images makes these notes even more appealing. Several denominations feature street scenes and the islands’ famous sheep.

The rugged climate doesn’t offer much land to cultivate but the raising of sheep is big business there. The name Faeroe Islands is said to mean «sheep islands.»

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VIEW OF WARSAW can be seen on the back of a Polish 200,000-zloty note issued in 1990.

A view of the old city of Warsaw in Poland can be seen on the back of the Polish 200,000-zloty notes. A Portuguese 50-escudo note also features a view of an old city, Conimbria.

Other Portuguese denominations feature street scenes of Lisbon and Braga.

Argentina has issued many notes featuring views of cities such as Ushuaia and Rosario along its coastline, including the 5,000-peso note depicting Mar del Plata. A view of a street scene in Rio de Janeiro in 1905 is featured on a 1987 Brazilian 1,000-cruzado note.

The nation of Brunei, a member of the British Commonwealth located off the coast of the island of Borneo, has several notes featuring city and village scenes. The 10-ringgit note shows a waterfront village, while the 10,000-ringgit note depicts an aerial view of Bandar Seri Begawan.

Some depictions of city or village scenes are very small, such as the one on the Hungarian 500-forint note showing an aerial view of Budapest and the Danube River.

Sometimes a view of a community is not the focus on a note, such as in the design on the back of the 5-lira note issued by the Republic of Malta.

The emphasis is on a marina in the foreground but if you look closely, you can see a harbor city view in the background.

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PENCIL DRAWING of a fishing village and church is featured on the back of a 50-krona note issued by the Faeroe Islands in the late 1940s.

A different geographical location is depicted on the 1,000-franc note of the Republic of Mali.

The note shows a mountain village scene from the West African nation. Even ancient cities have been depicted on notes. The Israeli 1,000-sheqel note shows a view of the ancient city of Tiberias. The Lebanese 10,000-livre note shows the ancient ruins of Tyros. A 10-rial note of Oman shows the ancient city of Nizwa. So if you long to travel but are armchair bound by finances or time, consider checking for notes with cityscapes.

Collectors can attend coin or paper money shows and look through the inventories of dealers in world paper money for pieces depicting the theme. Also, dealers offering fixed-price lists of world paper money are another resource to add pieces to a topical collection. Online auctions are another potential source for the notes.