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During World War II, Banco de Portugal decided to issue for the first time banknotes for the value of 5000 escudos. Yet, the new banknotes ended up remaining in the bank’s vaults for over three decades. In 1974, almost all banknotes were destroyed. Only a few specimens of great rarity like this one survived to this day.

Banknote specimen
Plate 1
Banco de Portugal

Did you know that...

The effigy of Queen Leonor used in this banknote was closely inspired by a statue made in 1935 by the sculptor Francisco Franco?

In 1942, sheltered from armed conflict due to its collaborating neutrality, Portugal steered clear of the most immediate and dramatic effects of World War II. Despite being hit by a shortage of essential goods, the country had positive balances of payments, essentially due to the export of tungsten, and foreign capital inflows greatly increased.

Nevertheless, the balance of payments surpluses created an excess of liquidity, provoked a sharp increase in money supply, and eventually led to inflation.

It was in this context of inflation and monetary expansion that the Board of Banco de Portugal decided to issue, for the first time, a banknote for the value of 5000 escudos. On 29 September 1942, the first plate of this denomination was thus created. On that same day, corresponding to the cash demand needs, the Board also decided to introduce new plates for the 500 and 1000-escudo banknotes, the highest circulating denomination at the time.

The 5000-escudo banknote would display on its front side, as a central element, the effigy of Queen Leonor (b. 1458 – d. 1525), wife of King João II, sister of King Manuel I, and a leading figure in the establishment of the Portuguese charity works known as ‘misericórdias’. The designs on the back centered around an allegorical vignette about Charity, which directly referred to the welfare work promoted by the queen.

Printed in England by Bradbury, Wilkinson & Co., one the usual banknote suppliers contracted by Banco de Portugal, the 5000-escudo banknotes were never issued. In November 1942, the Ministry of Finance considered their issue untimely, and since then the banknotes remained in the bank’s vaults, until its eventual destruction in 1974.

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