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Category: Currency



P-S121r, UNC

152 mm (6”), 70 mm (2-3/4”)

HISTORY: Four private banks (Banco Anglo Costarricense, Banco Comercial de Costa Rica, Banco de Costa Rica, and Banco Mercantil de Costa Rica) issued notes between 1864 and 1917. Banco Anglo Costarricense (Anglo Costa Rican Bank), publishers of this bank note, was established in 1864 and conducted business until 1917 when it became a state-owned bank. In 1994, it was forced into bankruptcy by order of President José Maria Figueres Olsen (1954– ).

In 1963, Anglo Costa Rican Bank celebrated its 100th anniversary by releasing these 1-colón notes, unsigned, as publicity handouts. They were never intended as legal tender. Apparently, there are some notes with forged signatures made to appear as legal tender, but none were ever actually issued. Also, as a point of reference, the colón denomination was named in honor of Christopher Columbus (or, in Spanish, Cristóbal Colón) (1451–1506).

Collectors may think this bank note was produced in 1917, but it was not. In 1917, Anglo Costa Rican Bank was printing their currency with Bradbury Wilkinson & Company (BW & C), London engravers and banknote printers since 1856. Although BW & C was acquired by the American Bank Note Company in 1903, they retained their name and industry identity for several decades.

OBVERSE: A beautifully colored engraving by “AMERICAN BANK NOTE COMPANY” (at that time located in Bronx, NY) features a portrait of Costa Rica’s President José Rafael de Gallegos y Alvarado (1784‒1850). He served terms during the early 1820s (president), 1830s and 1840s (head of state). The inscription above his cameo reads “PAGARÁ AL” (“PAY THE”) and, below his portrait, “PORTADOR A LA VISTA LA CANTIDAD DE UN COLON EN MONEDA NACIONAL DE ORO” (“BEARER IN SIGHT THE AMOUNT OF A COLON IN GOLD NATIONAL CURRENCY”) is followed by “CONFORME A LEY 23 JUNIO 1917” (“UNDER LAW 23 JUNE 1917”). “SAN JOSE,” to the lower left, is of course the capital of Costa Rica and headquarters for the bank.

REVERSE: Mercury, representing commerce and industry, is seated upon a soft, fleecy throw atop a large winch. He is clasping a caduceus to his right knee as he gazes into the distance. Wearing only one winged sandal, he seems momentarily at rest.

José Rafael de Gallegos y Alvarado