Paper, Circulated VF
155 x 80 mm (6 1/16” x 3 1/8”)
OBVERSE: Habib Ben Ali Bourguiba (1903–2000) is honored as the first president after Tunisia was declared a republic in 1956. He was a lawyer, a leader, and a statesman who held the office of presidency from 1956–1987. In the background is a depiction of the commercial port of Gabes, situated 320 km south of Tunis (the capital of Tunisia) along the east coast in the Mediterranean Gulf of Gabes. By 1966, Tunisia began oil production, although this illustration represents a bulk-processing facility. The watermark, on the upper left, is the portrait of Habib Bourguiba. I have no knowledge of the Arabic script, so I cannot comment or identify the written word on the face of this bill.
REVERSE: This dinar was issued by the “BANQUE CENTRALE DE TUNISIE,” which was formed in 1958 and headed by Hedi Nouira (1911–1993) until 1970. The present-day dinar to U.S. dollars is around 33 cents. What appears as a setting sun to the right is, once again, the Bourguiba watermark. The illustration is interesting. The question begs, “Why would Neptune be featured on the banknote of a Muslim country?” In the early 4th century AD, in the ancient Berber and Roman settlement of Cirta (presently a city in neighboring Algeria, 320 km west of Tunis), a villa decorated one of their floors with a mosaic of Neptune and his wife Amphitrite, charging through the seas led by their seahorse steads. The mosaic, dismantled and restored and now residing in the Paris Louvre, remains an important part of the history of North African culture. There are no marks indicating the artists or designers of the distinctive designs on this unique paper currency.