Câteva exemplare numismatice de excepţie , intrate recent în patrimoniul Muzeului Naţional de Istorie a României / Some Outstanding Numismatic Specimens Recently Bought by the National History Museum of Romania
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|Excerpt||Several exceptional numismatic pieces have recently become part of the Romanian National History Museum’s collection. They are seven wonderful banknote projects, unknown until now, for the 1, 2, 5, 50 and 100 Romanian lei notes. The projects were undertaken by the American Bank Note Company in 1912.
The seven banknote projects drawn by the American Bank Note Company have a special artistic value, and the pa per and the technical processing are also of high quality. The issue of such banknotes in the Romanian monetary market in 1912 would have represented not only a first, but also a true innovative revolution. The new elements would have been the nominal value of the new notes, their extremely modern artistic qualities and especially their safety elements.
First of all the 1 and 2 lei banknotes would have been introduced for the first time. Thus, the base unit of the Romanian monetary system - the leu - would have become for the first time a banknote, paper money. The 5 and 50 lei nominal values had been in use, between 1877-1880, on the Biletele Hypotecare. The 100 lei nominal value was also represented, between 1877-1880, on the Biletele Hipotecare, and was also used in the banknotes series issued by the National Bank of Romania - between 1881-19074 and 1910-1942. In 1912, the banknotes issued by the National Bank of Romania had the nominal value of 20, 100 and 1.000 lei. They were printed in France, after the drawings of Georges Duval and the matrix engraved by L. Ruffé and P. Dujardin.
From an artistic and technical point of view, the drawings of the seven banknote projects crated by the American Bank Note Company, especially those on the obverse of the note (figs. 1, 3 and 4) are remarkably. The artistic conception is unitary, even if slightly monotonous. The obverse of the notes is the same, at least for the 1, 2 and 5 lei notes (figs. 1, 3 and 4), which we have obtained until now. But the style, as well as the allegorical composition, is unusual for the paper money issued by the National Bank of Romania until then - that is 1912. Compared to the classical, slightly old fashioned style, the banknotes offered by the American company were simple, well aired and with extremely modern graphics in the Art Deco style. The entire allegory transmits an important message, which was meant to stress the progress achieved by Romania in culture, science and economy. For the 50 and 100 lei nominal values we have, unfortunately, only the reverse. This is practically the same for all the five nominal values and was made up exclusively of geometrical patterns which differ only in colour, the shape of the patterns and, of course, the banknote's nominal value (figs. 2, 5, 6 and 7). But we must not forget that we are dealing with banknote projects.
In the Romanian numismatic only the 500 and 5.000 lei paper money issued between 1931-1943, during King Carol II's reign, were similar to the projects of the American company, from the point of view of the style and the emplacement of the drawings in the note’s field – the banknotes mentioned above used the Guillot safety elements.
Closer to the Romanian style of the paper money are the splendid banknote prints issued also American Bank Note Company in 1916-1918. If they had chin introduced, these would have bacon the first paper money with the portrait of the sovereign - namely King Ferdinand - on the obverse, in a highly decorative Art Nouveau style. Also, they would have used the Guillot drawings safety elements - arabesques, undulations, volutes, rosettes, with or without the iris effect. These appear on the reverse, in a beautiful Art Deco style.
In the state they are preserved, without the name of the governor and that of the cashier of the National Bank of Romania written on them, we can suppose that the seven banknote projects were meant to be presented to the Romanian Government and the directors of the National Bank of Romania only for viewing.
The safety elements of the projects of the American Bank Note Company would have also been an absolute novelty for Romania. The technical safety elements offered the paper money a much better protection against any faking attempt.
Thus, coven if the chromatic scale is reduced - practically each project has only one colour: grey drawing on an ivory background for the 1, 2 and 5 Yei notes (figs. 1, 2, 3 and 4) or a green drawing on a white or white with minute green arabesques background for the 5, 50 and 100 lei banknotes (figs. 5, 6 and 7) - the impression of a "live" colour is obtained by the use of successive layers of different shades of grey or green. The use of fading colours represents one of the minimal safety elements.
An important element of protection is the use of the most advanced printing method used at that time. Thus, the tifdruc technique, through which the image is obtained by engraved grooves, allowed the drawing of minute and larger volutes, of undulations (in garlands, in the shape of the numbers). Also, the moiré effect, the use of hatches, offers the optical illusion of movement of the drawing. But the most advanced security clement form this period was the technique of the guilloche drawings. The Guilt rosettes, simple or in superposed round, square or rhomboidal layers, set vertically and with the iris effect (sec the reverse of the projects, figs. 2, 5, 6 and 7), was a novelty at a world scale. The combined use of all these elements offered the banknotes crated by the American Bank Note Company the highest protection at that time.
Even if they weren’t introduced, the seven banknote projects represent a unique phenomenon in the Romanian monetary market and deserve our full attention. These banknote projects complete, in a surprising, pleasant and interesting way the image of the National Bank of Romania's activity in the first quarter of the 20th century.
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