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102. Coffee currency

2010-10-28 Comments Off on 102. Coffee currency

A few weeks ago I posted some photos of “coffee coins” — private currency that used to circulate on the coffee estates here in Guatemala before the system was abolished in 1925.  Today, two examples of paper coffee currency.

This beautiful coffee botanical appears on an old 20-Cordoba note from Nicaragua that is no longer in circulation.  It may not have any value as currency, it is rich with symbolism.

Sandino’s outsize Stetson steals the show here, and has been an important part of Nicaragua’s iconography for the better part of the last century.  In fine print beneath the portrait is the famous quotation attributed to Sandino while he was living and working on an oil rig in Veracruz (which is where, incidentally, he got his Stetson): “As long as Nicaragua has children who love her, Nicaragua will be free.”

But I haven’t been lugging this bill around with me since the mid-1990s for the image of Sandino or his mythic quotation, but for the beautiful coffee botanical opposite, set against the sunburst.

This 50-Quetzal note is valid currency in Guatemala, where it is worth about $6.25 —  just enough for a pound of Antigua at my regular coffee shop.  Note the coffee harvest scene on the reverse.