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Noteworthy Notes 1960 Curaçao 100 Gulden

By Philip Thomas - February 16, 2023

1960 Curaçao 100 Gulden, PCGS Very Fine 30. Courtesy of PCGS. Click image to enlarge.

In the wide, wild world of numismatics, a banknote’s advanced, historically rich age and/or extremely lofty state of preservation are almost always the determining factors behind its desirability and ultimate value. So it can be refreshing to see an item buck this prevailing trend and be newer, imperfect, and valuable – all at the same time. There are not many modern world banknotes – those made since 1960 – existing within a mid-range circulated-grade category that can reliably achieve five figures at public auction. However, this gorgeous and seldom-encountered 1960 Curaçao 100 Gulden note, recently certified by PCGS as Very Fine 30, is one of these outstanding outliers.

Located on the continental shelf of South America less than 50 miles off the northern coast of Venezuela, Curaçao is a hilly, 170-square-mile Caribbean island with long stretches of beautiful sandy beaches. Subjected to various forms of colonial rule by European powers over the last 500 years, beginning with the Spanish and then the Dutch, it is currently considered a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. In a sense, this note is a tangible representation of the dramatic political progress and economic change in Curaçao that took place in the decades leading up to its 1960 issuance. That very same transformation also served as the reason for its limited production and brief time in circulation, which is the underlying cause of its rarity.

The issuing Curaçaosche Bank has origins tracing back to the early 19th century, and this particular issue is technically its last before profound revisions were made to its name and legal status in early 1962. A bank charter overhaul during the prior year effectively turned the institution into the lawful central bank of the newly formed and autonomous Netherlands Antilles, an amalgamation of several Dutch island territories that came into being in 1954. Bank officials knew that monetary policy modifications (as well as banknote design changes) were imminent, so quantities of new banknotes ordered from long-time Netherlands-based printer Johan Enschede en Zonen were kept to a minimum during this transition period. Starting in 1962, Curaçaosche Bank issues – including this 1960 100 Gulden, which saw a minuscule production total of just around 50,000 – were yanked from circulation, replaced by the new Bank van de Nederlandse Antillen issues.

This banknote design is most commonly encountered and available to collectors in specimen form – a non-negotiable, red “Specimen” overstamped version with ascending digit serial numbers (i.e., 012345) created and distributed to demonstrate to other banks around the world what a genuine example was to look like. Issued notes intended to circulate at face value – equaling, in this case, to about $300.00 worth of purchasing power today – are extremely scarce. The 100 Gulden was the highest denomination of the entire 1960 series.

The note’s main design – both face and back – was intaglio printed in a captivating violet color that goes along nicely with its multicolored brown, orange, and turquoise underprint. Two red letter-pressed serial numbers top things off on the back. The face at left features a vignette of a Dutch maiden gripping the Netherlands flag while seated near the ocean, observing a passing merchant ship. Interestingly enough, the central vignette depicts a scene located several hundred miles across the Caribbean from Curaçao: a cannon-equipped fort on its sibling island of St. Eustatius.

As history strongly suggests, change is an inevitable fact of life. In this case, it brought about some wondrous and rare numismatic collectibles to study and enjoy.

Article provided by PCGS at
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