Banknotes are Symbols of a Country's Culture

Author(s): Central Bank Of Barbados

Created 04 Jun, 2019
Categories General Press Release Speech
Views: 626

If you’ve seen the flyers for this Window to the World exhibition, you might have noticed a quote from Hans de Heij of the Central Bank of the Netherlands. It says “A banknote is the ambassador of the country and the culture it represents.”

We chose that quote because it encapsulates what this exhibition is about. We’re all familiar with cash as a means of exchange, something we use to pay for what we want to buy, but we don’t often think of our banknotes and coins as reflections of our national identity and of what is important to us.

When you look at our currency, however, it becomes clear that the Central Bank has made a conscious decision to showcase Barbados. National symbols like the Coat of Arms, the outline of the map, and the broken trident have been incorporated into the design, and in some cases, the security features. In fact, there are even tiny fibres on the two, five, and ten dollars that glow blue, yellow, and blue under UV light.

More prominently, we have locales on the backs of our notes that represent historical Barbados – Morgan Lewis Windmill and the Parliament Buildings; modern Barbados – Three Ws Oval and Grantley Adams International Airport; and everyday Barbados – Charles Duncan O’Neal Bridge and Independence Square.

And of course, we have used the front of our notes to honour outstanding Barbadians: John Redman Bovell, Sir Frank Worrell, Charles Duncan O’Neal, Samuel Jackman Prescod, Errol Barrow, and Sir Grantley Adams. Those selections, originally made in the 1970s and 80s were validated in 1998 when four of those six persons were named as national heroes.

This exhibition showcases banknotes from across the globe, and as you view it, you will discover that it is not only Barbados that views banknotes as opportunities to highlight its history and culture. Canada recently introduced a new $10 note featuring civil rights activist, Viola Desmond, and in recent years, South Africa has changed the design of their notes, replacing the “Big Five” safari animals with a portrait of Nelson Mandela.

Even countries that chose not to include portraits on their banknotes still reveal something of themselves to us. The flora and fauna on Fiji’s banknotes tell us about its ecosystem, and the country’s relationship with nature.

Banknotes are the perfect canvas on which to paint a national self-portrait. They are widely used by the local public, so people, especially young ones like some of you here today, can become familiar with the people who helped to make this country what it is.

Banknotes also travel far and wide. Tourists who visit the island often take a note or two home with them as souvenirs. And of course, there are banknote collectors – and the Bank has some from as far away as France and Australia – who buy Barbadian money from us. Those banknotes, wherever they end up, offer a glimpse into Barbados.

Again, the same is true of many other countries. So I encourage you today, as you take in the exhibition, to look for elements of the banknotes’ designs that will teach you something about other countries, especially those you are not very au fait with.

Our hope is that as you take in this exhibition, you will discover that the banknotes on display do indeed offer a Window to the World.



Copyright 2020 by Central Bank of Barbados