Historical context

In the mid-1990s, in anticipation of the 500th anniversary commemorating the great maritime explorations carried out during the 15th century and the mid-16th century, the Bank of Portugal (Banco de Portugal) decided to issue a new series of five banknotes of 500, 1000, 2000, 5000 and 10000 Escudos entitled "Portuguese Seafarers and explorers Issue". The changeover to the new European currency is near and this latest issue in Escudos is the unique opportunity to recall that this small country dominated Europe and the world, when its navigators challenged the oceans in their wooden boats and explored the distant kingdoms of Africa.

These expeditions along the West African coast unfortunately led to the start of colonialism and the slave trade. Despite everything, the great Portuguese navigators, who were opportunistic adventurers eager for new territories and riches, undeniably played a decisive role in the enlargement of the world and the passage from the Middle Ages to the modern era.

The man who illustrates the front of the 10000 Escudos Type 1996 banknote is completely unknown to the general public. It is about Prince Henry or Infante Dom Henrique (1394-1460). Also wearing the name of Henry the Navigator (Henrique o Navegador), he paradoxically never sailed and therefore made no major discoveries! However, he remains in history as the organizer and main patron of Portuguese explorations. His influence on European colonial expansion was so decisive that thirty years after his death in 1487, the Cape of Good Hope was passed by Bartolomeu Dias. In 1492, it was Christopher Columbus turn to follow in the footsteps of the Portuguese in the Atlantic ... But by vainly seeking a more direct route to the West Indies, he finally discovered the America ! Finally, Vasco da Gama definitively opens the “Spice Route” by establishing a maritime link with India in 1498. China was reached in 1513 and thus completed the meeting and the reunion of two worlds ... the West and the East.


Banknote description

The 10000 Escudos Type 1996 (Ref. Pick: # 191) is dated May 2, 1996 in Lisbon. It was put into circulation on October 22, 1996 and withdrawn from circulation on February 28, 2002. Its redemption date expires on March 1, 2022 (source: Bank of portugal). Dimensions: 153 x 75 mm. Printer: Valora S.A. (VSA). Watermark: Infante Dom Henrique. Front and back: multicolored print, predominantly brown, yellow, orange and carmine red.

On the front: on the right, the value "10 mil escudos" and a dark brown portrait of the Infante Dom Henrique. From the left to the center, a security background in shades of carmine red to yellow-orange features the cross of the orders of the Temple in rehearsal. In the center, we can see the coat of arms of Portugal, the belt of the Order of the Garter with the motto "Honi soit qui mal y pense", a compass, a sailor's rope, an hourglass and a safety thread crossing the bill vertically. The “Banco de Portugal” issuing institute, numbering, date and signatures are printed in black. Annotation at the bottom of the bill: "CH 2". The numerical value is printed vertically in a carmine band.

10000Escudos_specimen_1996.jpg

10000Escudos_specimen_1996v.jpg

On the back: in the upper left corner, the value in figures is printed horizontally on a yellow-orange security background consisting of a tangle of oak branches, leaves and acorns. On the right, the cross of the Orders of the Temple and a detailed representation of a Portuguese caravel sailing on an ocean in the form of an unrolled ribbon, on which is printed a Latin inscription which remains to be translated!

The caravel was a revolutionary boat for its time, because it combined a high hull, a shallow draft and triangular sails maneuverable and able to capture the direction of the wind. This very handy boat quickly became the main instrument for the success of the Portuguese coastal explorations of Africa.


Signatures variants

First Issue:

ReferenceIssue dateSignatures
#191a.102-05-1996Fernandes de Sousa / Martins Pereira Marta.
#191a.202-05-1996Fernandes de Sousa / Moreira de Campos e Cunha.
#191a.302-05-1996Fernandes de Sousa / Moreira Mateus.
#191a.402-05-1996Fernandes de Sousa / Manuel da Costa Pereira.
#191a.502-05-1996Fernandes de Sousa / Paredes Leite de Campos.
#191a.602-05-1996Fernandes de Sousa / Alberto de Oliveira Cruz.

Second Issue:

ReferenceIssue dateSignatures
#191b.110-07-1997Fernandes de Sousa / Martins Pereira Marta.
#191b.210-07-1997Fernandes de Sousa / Moreira de Campos e Cunha.
#191b.310-07-1997Fernandes de Sousa / Moreira Mateus.
#191b.410-07-1997Fernandes de Sousa / Manuel da Costa Pereira.
#191b.510-07-1997Fernandes de Sousa / Paredes Leite de Campos.
#191b.610-07-1997Fernandes de Sousa / Alberto de Oliveira Cruz.

Third Issue:

ReferenceIssue dateSignatures
#191c.112-02-1998Fernandes de Sousa / Martins Pereira Marta.
#191c.212-02-1998Fernandes de Sousa / Moreira de Campos e Cunha.
#191c.312-02-1998Fernandes de Sousa / Moreira Mateus.
#191c.412-02-1998Fernandes de Sousa / Manuel da Costa Pereira.
#191c.512-02-1998Fernandes de Sousa / Paredes Leite de Campos.
#191c.612-02-1998Fernandes de Sousa / Alberto de Oliveira Cruz.

Note: The last reference # 191c.6 dated 12-02-1998 with the signatures of Fernandes de Sousa and Alberto de Oliveira Cruz is not confirmed. Furthermore, the date of 07-12-1998 indicated in the World Paper Money (WPM) under the reference # P191c does not exist!


Observed and realized sales

Regarding current sales, we quickly found around twenty banknotes available for immediate purchase on ebay where prices range from € 79 for an AU grade note to € 150 on average for a UNC grade note. Some PMG 65 or PCGS 64 graded bills are displayed between 190 and € 240. A graded PCGS 64 specimen is offered at € 532. So what price to pay for this note? The ratings shown in the World Paper Money (Pick) for the three issue dates are as follows:

ReferenceIssue dateUNC quote
#191a2-5-1996$ 200 (€ 185)
#191b10-7-1997$ 190 (€ 176)
#191c12-2-1998$ 190 (€ 176)

We have also taken a dozen completed sales from two coin auction houses (cgb.fr for France and Heritage Auctions for the World) so that you have a more real trend in the collection market for this note.

ReferenceSellerDateGradeSale history
#191acgb.fr (#4260375)2018XF/AU€ 80
#191ccgb.fr (#97-51126)2015UNC€ 100
#191ccgb.fr (#187-119518)2016UNC€ 96
#191ccgb.fr (#4110223)2017UNC€ 90
#191aHeritage Auctions (#83515)2017PCGS 64 PPQ$ 79
#191aHeritage Auctions (#81635)2017PMG 64 Choice Unc$ 129,25 (two notes)
#191aHeritage Auctions (#82397)2017PMG 64 Choice Unc$ 176,25 (two notes)
#191aHeritage Auctions (#81440)2016PMG 64 Choice Unc$ 104
#191aHeritage Auctions (#83555)2016PMG 64 Choice Unc$ 104
#191aHeritage Auctions (#83558)2018PMG 63 Choice Unc$ 94

The Numizon opinion!

The figures speak for themselves and the observation is clear: this banknote sells rather at 50% of its theoretical rating. We can also note with astonishment that the graded bills do not bring the additional added value that we usually see for these exceptional qualities ...


Editor's note: all banknotes from Portugal will be listed in the Numizon catalog by the end of 2020!


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