French banknotes of the Second World War (1939-1945)
Three major trends emerge during this dark period of occupation. First, the expression of a strong nationalist sentiment, begun on the pre-war notes, is confirmed by the first bills made at the beginning of the conflict. Thus, the 100 francs Type 1939 Sully (Pick: #94), the 500 francs Type 1939 La Paix (Pick: #95) or the 1000 francs Type 1942 Déméter (Pick: #102) offer a highly symbolic vision of greatness France, represented by the development of its agricultural wealth and its terroir. While the 1000 francs Type 1940 Commerce et Industrie (Pick: #96), issued in emergency to replace the 1000 francs Goddess Demeter Type 1942, translates the power of the French merchant marine in the world. The second trend confirms a stylistic trend begun in 1915, by the representation of scenes from popular life or small jobs treated in a realistic way. This theme begins with the 20 francs Type 1940 Travail et Science (Pick: #92) and whose development started in the 1920s, is the subject of many studies when the final position between the two characters illustrating the Work and the Science. Then three small original notes representing regional and hexagonal France are elaborated by the artist Lucien Jonas: the 5 francs Type 1943 Berger pyrénéen (Pick: #98), the 10 francs Type 1941 Mineur (Pick: # 99) and the 20 francs Type 1942 Pêcheur (Pick: #100). The last trend is materialized by the emission of three bills that reflect a period of artistic transition. These notes, still designed by Lucien Jonas, are illustrated with famous characters and already foreshadow the future modern banknotes: the 50 francs Type 1941 Jacques Cœur (Pick: #93), the 100 francs Type 1942 Descartes (Pick: #101) and the 500 francs Type 1943 Colbert « réserve » (Pick: #101A). The latter will not be issued and kept in reserve. This period of war ends with a great campaign of moralization of economic life. In June 1945, the French Government decided to exchange all the notes of an amount equal to or greater than 50 francs. The aim is to invalidate the notes carried by the Germans, remove the American and British francs from the circulation, bail out the treasury and update the fortunes formed with the black market. This is the magnificent banknote of 5000 francs Type 1942 Empire français (Pick: #103) that is used for this unique and unprecedented operation in French monetary history.