An amazing Finnish postcard

A 100 Markkaa Type 1898 used as ... toilet paper!

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Although the term is not official, I consider that the "maxiphilie" is the fact of widening its field of collection by seeking all that can have a link with it, as in the example which I had presented of chromolithographs representing banknotes (see article of January 9, 2020). It differs in this from multicollection, where one searches for objects without thematic link between them.

The postcard offers numerous opportunities to the numismatist: at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, coins in general were widely represented. It could be within the framework of a numismatic vision: there are thus maps illustrating the monetary systems of different countries, or, for France, showing the diversity of the notes of necessity of the First World War. More frequently, sending a banknote image had an apotropaic virtue, that is to say to ward off bad luck and bring good luck: the paper money will then illustrate the greeting cards and sometimes be surrounded by other talismans like the four-leaf clover, the horseshoe or a gold coin. I know of examples for South America, but it seems to me that the production of postcards with a numismatic subject mainly concerned 4 European countries: Germany (with notably very pretty glazed cards), Belgium, France and Switzerland.

The postcard I am going to present caught my attention with its originality. First, it is a Finnish card, which in itself is not common, Finland being also one of the countries having issued banknotes among the most original in the world, with the magnificent series of groups of characters naked, dated between 1922 and 1945. Here we are earlier, since the card is illustrated with a 100 markkaa yype 1898 depicting a couple of common people, the man, with the shirt wide open on his chest, holding in his hand right an ax, the left arm placed on the shoulder of his companion.


This note, N ° 0186417, corresponds to Pick: # 7 (4) according to the classification of the website, that is to say that it includes the printed signatures of Stenius and Landtman. It belongs to the series issued in 1897-1898 which has 6 values, from 5 to 500 Markkaa. 100 Markkaa was therefore a big bill.

However, the note is represented as one of the sheets of a roll of toilet paper! Admittedly, at the time, it is a luxury product of recent invention, for which Wikipedia indicates: “in June 1891, Seth Wheeler filed a patent for the invention of toilet paper roll; three months later, he improved the system by imagining lines of perforations to more easily detach the sheets”. These perforations, which do not exist on the real banknote, on the other hand are well represented on the postcard, the central note having, attached to its left, a small piece torn from the previous banknote, and is not yet detached from the bill next whose number is already visible, with a respected increment since bearer of N ° 0186418. I don’t think we should see any scatological reference in this subject, but an apotropaic logic, something like “be rich enough to allow you to use money as toilet paper”.

The interest is also historical and philatelic. The card is mailed from the Grand Duchy of Finland, autonomous but part of the Russian Empire, this terminology disappearing at the independence of the country in 1917. It is mailed on June 15, 1912 (date of the post stamp) for Paris, from the city of Kuokkala, currently located in Russia and which became the city of Repino in 1948. While the Grand Duchy had its own stamps in 1856, postage at 4 kopeks is based on Russian stamps: 1 orange kopek (Yvert & Tellier catalog, ref. # 61) and 2 red kopecks (Yvert & Tellier catalog, ref. # 63).


In the end, interest and originality also come at a price. While postcards with a numismatic subject generally sell for between € 5 and € 10, it has finally approached € 40. However, we bet that it will always attract attention in the middle of the Finnish banknotes with which it is now kept: bet won for the artist of a century ago!

The 100 markkaa type 1898

Country: Finland. Value: 100 Markkaa Kullassa / Mark i Guld / Marok 'Zolotom' (Gold Mark), issued by Suomen Pankki / Finlands Bank / Finlandskiy Bank '. The note was printed in London by Bradbury, Wilkinson & Co and is known in four variants and eight differents signatures:

  • Pick # 7a: Series # 1 to # 86000 with two handwritten signatures printed.
  • Pick # 7b: Series # 86001 to # 659000 with lines under the printed signatures,
  • Pick # 7c: Series without lines under the printed signatures,
  • Pick # 7s: Uniface specimen perforated with one or two cancellation holes, without signatures and without numbering.


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