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The world’s most beautiful banknote is from Mexico, but it’s about to change

In this article I will tell you how the candidates for the world’s most beautiful banknotes are selected. In addition, we will review the 6 candidates for 2022.

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Until today, the most beautiful banknote in the world is from Mexico, but there are already several banknotes fighting for this award. In reality, what happens is that every year, a jury decides which is the most beautiful paper money among the banknotes introduced in that period.

In this article I will tell you how the candidates for the most beautiful banknotes in the world are selected. In addition, we will review the 6 candidates that are disputing this condition, and at the end I will reveal which one I believe will be chosen as the most beautiful banknote in the world in 2022.

What is the most beautiful banknote in the world?

The most beautiful banknote in the world is currently from Mexico, and circulates under the denomination of 50 Mexican pesos. This beautiful specimen has a striking design that connects anyone who admires it with the nature and culture of this great nation.

The obverse or front of the banknote presents a fragment of the back of the monolith known as “TEOCALLI DE LA GUERRA SAGRADA” (TEOCALLI OF THE SACRED WAR). The vignette includes an eagle perched on a cactus. Both are very important identity elements in the Mexican symbology and natural ecosystem. In the background, you can see “La Gran Tenochtitlan” by the great muralist Diego Rivera.

Billete 50 pesos mexicanos
Banknote 50 Mexican pesos

The reverse, on the other hand, the most beautiful banknote in the world shows a river and in the foreground an Ajolote. The axolotl, as it is also known, is characteristic of the Aztec nation and is a species of salamander that is in danger of extinction.

The Mexican 50 peso bill is printed in polymer. A technology that is beginning to be adopted more and more by different countries to issue paper money. The design is vertical, contrasting with the orientation of most banknotes in circulation.

How do you select the most beautiful banknote in the world?

To select the most beautiful banknote in the world, every year the INTERNATIONAL BANK NOTE SOCIETY holds a contest where different countries can submit their proposals. Then, a jury meets and evaluates the banknotes according to several criteria, and among all of them, they select the one that wins the prize for that year.

In reality, the award covers broader aspects than just the aesthetic beauty of the banknote. However, popularly the awarded specimen ends up being recognized as the most beautiful banknote of that year.

In 2022 the selection process for the most beautiful banknote was quite close. The 200 dobras bill from Sao Tome and Principe was in contention for first place until the very last moment, but it was the Mexican 50 peso bill that was chosen.

The process to select the most beautiful banknote of 2023 is still ongoing. Those who wish, can nominate those banknotes put into circulation in 2022, by writing to the following email: banknoteoftheyear@theibns.org. Among the nominations received, the most beautiful banknote of 2022 will be selected. The deadline for receiving proposals is January 31, 2023.

Candidates for the world’s most beautiful ticket 2022

The competition to select the most beautiful banknote of 2022 is in full swing. Some of the specimens submitted so far are true works of art.

Let’s take a look at them.

20 Macau Pataca Banknotes

The first candidate is the 20 Macao Pataca, designed and issued in 2022. The island of Macao is a special administrative region of China, which has its own currency: the Pataca.

Billetes de 20 Patacas de Macao
Macau 20 Pataca banknotes

For the contest for the most beautiful banknote, the 20 Macao Patacas banknote was presented. The predominant colors on the banknote are purple, yellow and red. The motif of the banknote is the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games. In fact, the logo of the event is stamped on one side.

For bill collectors who want to get their hands on this piece, you can buy it on eBay or Amazon for prices ranging from US$25 to US$35.

1000 Philippine Peso Banknote

The second contender for the prize for the most beautiful banknote in the world is the 1000 peso banknote from the Republic of the Philippines. This country is an island in Southwest Asia, very close to Taiwan.

Billete de 1000 pesos de Filipinas
1000 Philippine Peso Banknote

The Philippine banknote has a renewed design that has already caused some controversy in the Asian country. This new design, which has been circulating since April 2022, replaced Abad Santos, Escoda and Lim with the Philippine eagle. The change did not please some nationals, who pushed a petition on Change.org for “No to removing our World War II heroes from the 1000 peso bill.”

On eBay you can buy one of these copies for about 50 US dollars. However, a certified copy is likely to cost much more.

50 Barbados Dollar Banknote

Barbados is represented in the competition with its $50 bill issued in May 2022. The Caribbean island introduced in 2022 an entire monetary cone with polymer banknotes, and this $50 bill is the contender for the most beautiful banknote in the world.

Billete 50 dólares de Barbados
50 Barbados Dollar Banknote

The orange banknote has on its obverse Errol Barrow, former head of government between 1961 and 1976. On the reverse we can see Independence Square with Errol Barrow’s statue in Bridgetown. Like the other banknotes mentioned above, this one is printed on polymer.

Fifty Barbados dollars is approximately equivalent to 25 US dollars. Therefore, bill collectors who want a specimen may have to pay a little more for an uncirculated specimen.

50 Northern Ireland Pound Note

The next banknote on the list of candidates for the most beautiful specimen is the 50 pound note from Northern Ireland. This region is part of the United Kingdom and has its own currency, which as we will see below is so beautiful as to compete for the position of the most beautiful banknote in the world.

Billete de 50 libras de Irlanda del Norte
50 Northern Ireland Pound Note

The banknote is beautiful in design and motif. It is dedicated to the contribution of women to science. On the front is a vignette of pioneering astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who made a significant contribution to the discovery of pulsars. The reverse features elements of Northern Ireland’s flora and fauna.

The polymer banknote was introduced into circulation in June 2022. Those who want to get a copy for their collection should pay over US$125 for an uncirculated copy.

20 Sierra Leonean Lions Banknote

The only paper banknote, among the candidates for the most beautiful banknote in the world, corresponds to the 20 lions of Sierra Leone. The West African country competes with a beautiful specimen with a mixture of orange, brown and black colors.

Billete de 20 leones de Sierra Leona
20 Sierra Leonean Lions Banknote

The 20 lion bill is part of the newly designed and introduced 2022 Sierra Leonean currency. Unfortunately the beauty of this bill does not match the wealth of the country, as Sierra Leone is one of the poorest enclaves in Africa and the world.

The obverse depicts Constance Cummings-John, an educator and national politician. The reverse shows 16 students, all women, and an inscription in English that reads “Education for Gender Empowerment”.

Egyptian 10 pound bill

The last candidate on the list of contenders for the most beautiful banknote of 2022 is the 10-pound note from Egypt. This banknote, printed in polymer, has a stylized design that rescues important and well-known icons of the African country.

Billete de 10 libras de Egipto
Egyptian 10 pound bill

The predominant colors of the banknote are brown, yellow, red and has tints of violet. The obverse depicts the Al-Fattah Al-Alim Mosque in the New Administrative Capital. On the reverse, several iconic motifs are combined, but the statue of Hatshepsut and a pyramid in the background stand out.

On digital platforms such as ebay and Amazon, specimens in good condition are being sold at prices ranging from 5 to 15 US dollars. It is a beautiful specimen that collectors of polymer banknotes will want to have in their inventory.

Which of these bills did you like the most?

I would love to know your opinion about these specimens, now that you know the candidates for the award for the most beautiful banknote in the world in 2022. I particularly liked the Macau banknote, and I suspect it will be the one to win the award.

Of course, here we are talking about modern banknotes, issued during 2022. I clarify this, because if we were to make this list with all banknotes, of all times, surely the French paper money specimens of the mid-20th century would win by far. I would also consider the American 1 bills of the famous educational series.

Anyway, I don’t want to go on too long as we have reached the end of this entry. Leave me a comment with your opinions on this topic. If you liked the article, feel free to share it on your social networks so that other people can enjoy the monetary beauties you have just seen.

I'm a passionate full-time blogger. I love writing about startups, how they can access key resources, avoid legal mistakes, respond to questions from angel investors as well as the reality check for startups. Continue reading my articles for more insight.

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