Paper, Crisp UNC P-86a
160 mm x 74 mm (6-1/4” x 3”)
OBVERSE: This beautifully rendered Central Bank of Uruguay (Banco Central Del Uruguay) $20 pesos uruguayos is dedicated to Juan Zorrilla de San Martin (1855–1931), the National Poet of Uruguay. Zorrilla de San Martin is celebrated by the nation as a writer, a poet, and an ambassador. His dramatic portrait is featured to the right of center. To his upper right is a hologram, visible from several angles yet blank when viewed front on. To his left are the signatures of the bank’s secretary general, and President Walter Cancela, who served from 2005 to 2008. Beneath the signatures is an interesting vignette of a full ink jar, quill, and blank scroll, framed by a laurel wreath. To the left is Uruguay’s coat of arms and a watermark portrait of Zorrilla de San Martin.
REVERSE: A robed angel in flight, cradling a lyre in her left arm, illustrates the allegory of “The Fatherland Legend” (“La Leyenda Patria”). This 413-verse poem was written by Zorrilla de San Martin (May 1879) in an epic romantic French style (chanson de geste), which was popular in the late 11th and early 12th centuries. In the center of this banknote is an excerpted verse from his handwritten manuscript along with his exuberant signature. Beneath, interesting to note, is the mirror image of the vignette on the obverse — except now the ink jar is empty and the scroll is fully written. Pretty cool! To the far right is the watermark reverse.
At the bottom right, in really, really small print, is “FRANҪOIS-CHARLES OBERTHÜR FIDUCIAIRE,” the French printer/engraver for this currency. Franҫois-Charles Oberthür (1818–1893) was an engraver and the founder of this printing group (founded in 1842), which is still a major corporation. Early in his career, he ran a printing press with Alois Senefelder (1771–1834), inventor of lithography.