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In 1967, Banco de Portugal was preparing the issue of a new plate of the 1,000-escudo banknote. The character to be featured on the front of the note was Queen Maria II of Portugal, intimately connected with the origins of the bank. The bank’s agency in Figueira da Foz was robbed in May that year and that would force the bank to issue the new banknotes earlier than expected.

Plate 10
Banco de Portugal

Did you know that...

The effigy of Queen Maria II on the back of the note was taken from a famous gold coin, dated 1833, known as ‘Degolada’ (beheaded)?

Although quite common, the notes of 1,000 escudos, plate 10, have a special place in the history of the paper money issues of Banco de Portugal. In fact, this was the only single banknote referring to the history of the bank and particularly to its establishment.

The front of the banknote features the young effigy of Queen Maria II, after a portrait executed by the English painter Thomas Lawrence, with the likely assistance of John Simpson. It was by royal decree of Queen Maria II, dated 19 November 1846, that Banco de Portugal was established, and shortly after, in 29 December, the queen would grant the bank its first statutes.

The back of the note is marked by a medallion, on the left, with the queen’s effigy surrounded by her titles and the year of the bank’s foundation, and, on the right, an image of the former building of Lisbon’s Town Hall and Pillory Square (Praça do Pelourinho) before the 1863 fire. As a matter of fact, the Town Hall building housed the headquarters of both the Bank of Lisbon and Banco de Portugal, its immediate successor.

However, the history of this banknote is also deeply connected with the events that astonished the country in May 1967. In 17 May, an anti-fascist group invaded Banco de Portugal’s agency in Figueira da Foz and was able to get away with 29 million escudos in banknotes. Two days later, in order to prepare the withdrawal of the banknote types that had been robbed, the General Council of Banco de Portugal decided that 12 million notes of 1,000 escudos, plate 10, already in possession of the bank, should be rapidly finalised for its first issue.

By the end of that troubled month of May, the first banknotes of 1,000 escudos featuring Queen Maria II were thus put in circulation much ahead of what had been expected.

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