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European Paper Money

European paper money has much in common with the coinage of the region, although some of its history can be a little harder to trace. In 2002, the European Union moved to the euro standard, which replaced the individual currencies of its member nations. Euro denominations range from 5E to 500E. A unique feature of euro banknotes is that each denomination is a different size and color, increasing in size with the value of the bill.

European paper money began in 17th-century Sweden, where the first national European paper currency was created. The run of Swiss banknotes were signed by 16 politicians and trusted officials, certifying that they could be redeemed and hold value. This was necessary because merchants were very uneasy about paper money as a concept. The bills were a success and rapidly spread throughout Europe. However, European bills were frequently accompanied by economic turbulence and inflation as governments struggled to find a balance between printing and devaluing.

Each European nation's paper money tells a story all its own: varying famous individuals, events, architecture, and regalia featured on bills relate what was important to that country at that time in history. While the Euro has reduced the historical appeal of European paper money, the rich historic tapestry of antique European bills still exists.


Quick Facts

  • In Norway, there was a shortage of small coins after each World War. To compensate, 1- and 2-kroner bills were printed in lieu of coins
  • In 2003, Romania issued a one-million-lei banknote on polymer material. Although no longer legal tender after a sweeping currency reform, this curiosity maintains interest as the highest-denomination polymer banknote currently in existence
  • The Bank of England was established in 1694 to print official government banknotes. It remains the longest-running contiguous issuer of banknotes today

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Sellers Who Sell European Paper Money


Noonans Mayfair

Noonans Mayfair

Nomisma S.p.a

Nomisma S.p.a

Key Date Coins

Key Date Coins

Archives International Auctions, LLC

Archives International Auctions, LLC