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World's 10 most beautiful currencies

Last updated on: September 13, 2011 13:52 IST

World's 10 most beautiful currencies

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The Reserve Bank of India is toying with the idea of replacing paper currency with polymer notes.

As a pilot project, the central bank is said to have decided to introduce 100 crore (1 billion) pieces of Rs 10 polymer notes, for which the bank has floated a global tender.

The bank has asked interested parties for 500 pieces of sample banknotes, before the actual global bids for the project go through.

Explaining the rationale behind the possible introduction of polymer notes, an RBI official said that these notes would have an average life span of five years compared to one year for paper currency notes.

Soiled notes too would become history, once polymer notes are in vogue. And even though the initial cost of printing polymer notes is high, in the long run it works out cheaper.

In this slide show, we present a brief history of Indian currency as also the 10 most beautiful currencies of the world.

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Image: A Reserve Bank of Australia employee holds up the new A$100 note in Sydney.
Photographs: David Gray/Reuters
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India has been one of the earliest issuers of coins in the world.

Few countries rival India for the sheer diversity of its coinage be it minting techniques, motifs, sizes, shapes, the metals used or for that matter the monetary history arising from the Monetary Standards India has experienced (tri-metallism, bi-metallism, the silver standard, the gold exchange standard as well as fiat money).

In history, Indian coins have played a crucial role in documenting political and economic changes over time.

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Image: Old 25 paise coins.
Photographs: Reuters
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Paper money was introduced in India in the late 18th century.

Among the early issuers, the General Bank of Bengal and Bahar (1773-75) was a state sponsored institution set up in participation with local expertise. Its notes enjoyed government patronage.

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Image: An old 20-rupee note.

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Wide use of bank notes, however, came with the note issues of the semi-government Presidency Banks, notably the Bank of Bengal which was established in 1806 as the Bank of Calcutta with a capital of 50 lakh sicca rupees.

These banks were established by government charters and had an intimate relationship with the government.

The charter granted to these banks accorded them the privilege of issuing notes for circulation within their circles.

Notes issued by the Bank of Bengal can broadly be categorised in three broad series viz: the 'unifaced' series, the 'commerce' series and the 'Britannia' series.

The early notes of the Bank of Bengal were unifaced and were issued as one gold mohur (sixteen sicca rupees in Calcutta) and in denominations deemed convenient in the early 19th Century, viz., Rs. 100, Rs. 250, Rs. 500, etc.

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1. The French Pacific Territories (Franc)

The CFP franc (called the franc in everyday use) is the currency used in the French overseas collectivities of French Polynesia, New Caledonia and Wallis and Futuna.

The Franc was created in December 1945, together with the CFA franc, used in Africa.

The reason for the creation of these francs was the weakness of the French franc immediately after the Second World War.

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Image: CFP franc.

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2. The Maldives (Rufiyaa)

The name 'rufiyaa' is derived from the Hindi word rupiyaa.

The most commonly used symbols for the rufiyaa are MRF and Rf. The ISO 4217 code for Maldivian rufiyaa is MVR.

The rufiyaa is subdivided into 100 laari.

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Image: The Rufiyaa.

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3. Sao Tome & Principe (Dobras)

The dobra is the currency of Sao Tome and Principe.

It is abbreviated Db and is divided into 100 centimos.

The dobra was introduced in 1977, replacing the escudo at par.

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Image: The Dobras.

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4. Switzerland (Francs)

The franc is the currency and legal tender of Switzerland and Liechtenstein; it is also legal tender in the Italian exclave Campione d'Italia.

The Swiss National Bank issues banknotes and the federal Swissmint issues coins.

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Image: Swiss Franc.

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5. Comoros (Comorian Franc)

The franc is the official currency of Comoros.

It is nominally subdivided into 100 centimes.

Before 1798, about 75 entities were making coins in Switzerland, including the 25 cantons and half-cantons, 16 cities, and abbeys, resulting in about 860 different coins in circulation, with different values, denominations and monetary systems.

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Image: The Comorian Franc.

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6. New Zealand (New Zealand Dollars)

Sir Edmund Hillary, on this New Zealand $5, ranks as most rugged outdoorsman on world money, with his weather-crinkled eyes, windblown hair, and open-throated shirt.

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Image: The New Zealand Dollar.

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7. Cook Islands (Cook Island Dollars)

This woman seems tranquil and happy, probably because she is riding a giant shark.

The dollar is the currency of the Cook Islands.

The dollar is subdivided into 100 cents, although some 50 cent coins carry the denomination as '50 tene'.

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Image: The Cook Islands Dollar.

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8. Hong Kong dollars

The Hong Kong dollar is the eighth most traded currency in the world.

In English, it is normally abbreviated with the dollar sign $, or alternatively HK$.

The Hong Kong dollar is subdivided into 100 cents.

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Image: The Hong kong dollar.

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9. Iceland (Kronurs)

The krona is technically subdivided into 100 aurar (singular eyrir), but in practice this subdivision is no longer used.

The Danish krone was introduced to Iceland in 1874, replacing the earlier Danish currency, the rigsdaler. In 1885, Iceland began issuing its own banknotes.

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Image: The Iceland Kronurs.

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10. Faroe Islands (Kronurs)

The krona is the currency of the Faroe Islands.

It is issued by the Danish National Bank. It is not an independent currency but a version of the Danish krone.

Therefore, it does not have an ISO 4217 currency code.


Image: The Faroe Islands Kronurs.

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