Bank of Lisbon wire mesh, 1st half of 19th century

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The watermark was one the earliest security features used in security papers. For that reason, its introduction in the notes issued by the Bank of Lisbon was only natural. To make that feature, one had to use a wire mesh, which created differences in paper thickness as the sheets were produced.


Bank of Lisbon



Steel and brass

Did you know that…

The Banco de Portugal issued banknotes with the Bank of Lisbon watermark until the 1870’s?

The watermark was developed in Italy around the end of the 13th century, and is one of the oldest security features employed in security printing. When in 1822 the Bank of Lisbon began issuing banknotes – the first in Portugal – the use of watermarks on paper currency was already well established.

The watermark was created during the production of the paper through the use of wire meshes like this one, which was used to make paper for the Bank of Lisbon’s notes and drafts, in the final years of that institution.

This mesh comprises a wooden frame supporting a fine screen of brass. The screen includes a complex array of metal wires in geometric and plant patterns, along with the name of the Bank. This particular mesh produced the filigree paper for two notes or drafts.

The paper was made from a pulp containing the fibres of old rags that was spread out onto the wire mesh. The pattern on the mesh was produced by the differences in pressure to the paper as it dried, creating the watermark in the final paper. Unlike today’s watermarks, those of the Bank of Lisbon covered almost the entire sheet of paper.

The watermark design on this mesh was also used for the first notes of the Banco de Portugal, which used the paper made for the earlier Bank of Lisbon.

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