10,000 reis, Banco de Portugal 1848
Established in November 1846, Banco de Portugal made its first banknotes issues from September 1847. The 10,000-reis notes, payable in copper or bronze coin, were among the first denominations issued by the bank. They are extremely rare today.
Banco de Portugal
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Banco de Portugal was issuing notes in the name of the Bank of Lisbon even before it started its own issues?
In November 1846, the Portuguese State was on the brink of bankruptcy and both the Bank of Lisbon and the National Trust Company (Companhia Confiança Nacional) were heavily exposed to public debt and faced general distrust. The country was again in civil war and the armies of the Provisional Junta of the Supreme Government of the Kingdom, based in Porto, were advancing towards Lisbon in order to remove the new government of Costa Cabral.
It was in this context of great political and financial turmoil that Banco de Portugal came into being. The new institution was an issuing and commercial bank which resulted from the merger between the Bank of Lisbon and the National Trust Company, as determined by royal decree of 19 November 1846. As the Bank of Lisbon, Banco de Portugal was also granted the privilege of issuing banknotes convertible into hard currency.
The issues made in the name of Banco de Portugal started only in September 1847. The 10,000 reis note, payable in copper or bronze coin, was one of the two first denominations to be put in circulation. The design of these banknotes was similar to some of the banknotes issued by Banco de Lisboa and it also retrieved the allegories to the Four Continents.
The available paper with Bank of Lisbon’s watermark was reused in the first issues made by Banco de Portugal. The back of these banknotes received a heavy print which was supposed to cover the old watermark and to serve, in a certain sense, as a new one. For that reason, the face value and the name of the issuer were printed backwards on the back of the note, so they could be read from the front against the light.
Although they were relatively simple, the bank kept issuing 10,000-reis banknotes of the first plate until July 1875. The banknotes were eventually withdrawn from circulation in May 1876, on the eve of the banking crisis that was about to hit Portugal.