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Bicentenary of the death of Napoleon Bonaparte!

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Illustrated banknotes of famous people (1950-1957)

Since the end of the Second World War, France has seen its inflation continually skidding. The reconstruction of the country at a forced march, the intensification of the Algerian war and the depreciation of the franc against the dollar lead to a succession of budget deficits. As a result, devaluations follow one another and the purchasing power of the French is deteriorating. This context forces the Bank of France to consider new denominations with very high face values. The fiduciary institution takes the opportunity to renew itself and decides to definitively abandon the allegorical figures which have made the success of its issues for 150 years! It is the apogee of the French school of the banknote with the generalization of the portraits, started at the beginning of the XXth century with the 20 francs type 1916 "Bayard". From now on, all the new issues are illustrated of famous men who made greatness from France. These are systematically represented on the front and back of the note and in a place symbolic of their life course. This new range is available with a 500 francs type 1953 "Victor Hugo" (Pick: # 133), a 1,000 francs type 1953 "Richelieu" (Pick: # 134), a 5,000 francs type 1957 "Henri IV" (Pick: # 135), a 10,000 francs type 1955 "Bonaparte" (Pick: # 136) and a 50,000 francs type 1957 "Molière" (Pick: # 136A). This last note will never be issued with this excessively large face value, but will meet another fate with the reform of the franc in 1958 ...

10,000 francs type 1955 "Bonaparte"

The project was initiated in January 1952. The Bank of France decided to entrust the realization to the artist Clément Serveau. The engraving is carried out by Marliat (for the front) and by Armanelli (for the back). The intaglio is made by Jules Piel. The front and back contain a portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte (1) from an unfinished painting "General Bonaparte" by the painter Jacques-Louis David. The note will be issued from December 1, 1955 to October 30, 1958 and permanently withdrawn from circulation on April 4, 1960 ...


Above: Front of the specimen N ° 254 (Ref. Pick # 136s, Fayette-Dessal: # F.51docs.00Spn).


Above: Back of the specimen N ° 254.

This May 5, 2021 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Napoleon, undoubtedly the most famous historical figure in the world and the most emblematic in the history of France!


(1) Napoleon Bonaparte, born August 15, 1769 in Ajaccio and died May 5, 1821 on Sainte-Hélène island, was a French soldier and statesman, first Emperor of the French, from May 18, 1804 to April 6, 1814 and from March 20 to June 22, 1815, under the name of Napoleon Iᵉʳ.

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