South American Paper Money

South American paper money is largely derived from the currencies of the colonial powers that dominate much of modern South American history. For example, Brazil uses the real, which was a currency unit used by the Portuguese from 1430 to 1911.

Brazil's first banknotes were created by the General Diamond Administration in the late 18th century as a way to reimburse prospectors. After this period, Brazilian banknotes were issued intermittently by various provincial governments and private banks. There were also periodic issues by regional governments. The fractured nature of Brazilian paper currency makes it an attractive collectible.

Brazil's real is not the only South American currency with collectible variations throughout history. In fact, currencies with many changes are typical of the region. Modern Argentina has had eight separate currency systems, all based to some degree off of the peso derived from the Spanish pieces of eight.


Quick Facts

  • Brazil abandoned its move to polymer-based banknotes. Public opinion of the polymer notes was favorable, but bank tellers had issues with the notes sticking together. Existing notes were not withdrawn, but the government will not issue any more
  • The 2000 series of banknotes issued by Suriname is considered by some collectors to be among the most attractive paper money available
  • One of Argentina's currencies, the peso argentino, only lasted two years before being replaced by the austral

Recommended Items at Auction

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Colonial Currency, NC. May 17, 1783 20s Crown + Book Contemporary Cft. PMG EF-45
Oct 23, 9:00 AM PDT
Colonial Currency, NC. May 17, 1783 20s Crown + Book Contemporary Cft. PMG EF-45
by Early American History Auctions
Est: $5,000- $6,000
$3,7500 Bids
Colonial Currency Pennsylvania April 20, 1781 Ten Shillings PMG Very Fine-30
Oct 23, 9:00 AM PDT
Colonial Currency Pennsylvania April 20, 1781 Ten Shillings PMG Very Fine-30
by Early American History Auctions
Est: $500- $700
$3500 Bids
1888 Argentina Dos Peso Banco de La Provincia Bank Note PMG Very Fine 30
Oct 19, 8:00 AM PDT
1888 Argentina Dos Peso Banco de La Provincia Bank Note PMG Very Fine 30
by BK Auctions
Est: $700- $800
$10 Bids

Sellers Who Sell South American Paper Money


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