Romania
2.000 Lei - Click to enlarge 10.000 Lei - Click to enlarge
50.000 Lei - Click to enlarge 100.000 Lei - Click to enlarge 500.000 Lei - Click to enlarge 1.000.000 Lei - Click to enlarge
Romania first issued a polymer note in 1999 and by late 2001 became the third country after Australia and New Zealand to fully convert to polymer with notes of 2.000, 10.000, 50.000, 100.000 and 500.000 Lei. On 5 December, 2003 a light blue 1.000.000 Lei note appeared to complement this already colourful series.

Its theme is the arts and features a portrait of playwright Ion Luca Caragiale who lived from 1852 to 1912. One of Romania’s foremost playwrights, Caragiale had a checkered career. Commencing work as a journalist he obviously enjoyed the arts and devoted his spare time to writing comedies and dramas which were widely acclaimed.

His works did not support him and held the senior positions with the State. In 1901 he is accused of plagiarism and whilst acquitted a stigma seems to stick. Doors close on him and Caragiale sees out his days in self imposed exile in Berlin.

A bloom of the violet (other polymers also feature flowers) and theatrical masques, one of them depicting comedy, complete the main design features on the front of this note.

The former National Theatre in Bucharest, a statue of Caragalie and the masque of tragedy are the primary design elements of the back.

For Romania’s highest denomination, it is no surprise that sophisticated security features are utilised.

The see through window contains the embossed denomination numeral 1.000.000 which is consistent with earlier issues. Caragiale’s initials, “I”, “L” and “C” are concealed in the design of the National Theatre and can only be seen when held at an angle. A perfect registration in the form of a stylised ancient amphitheatre, latent images of Caragiale’s portrait and the logo of the National Bank of Romania and colour shifting ink are important security features. An unusual one is laser made micro perforations of the denomination numeral 1.000.000 which become apparent when the note is held to the light. This technique has probably been previously used but I cannot recall where.

I am also unsure where this note is printed. Romania’s note printing works has lithographed basic lower value notes. Both NPA and Austria have printed earlier Romanian polymer issues in intaglio and with more sophisticated security features. Given the complexity of this note I doubt that it has been printed in Romania. Undoubtedly confirmation of the printer will be forthcoming before too long.

Trevor Wilkin regrets the delay in finalising this section of polymernotes.com and hopes to have it completed within the coming months.
Romania - P112 - 10.000 Lei - Front
Romania - P112 - 10.000 Lei
Romania - P112 - 10.000 Lei - Front
Romania - P112 - 10.000 Lei
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Romania - P112 - 10.000 Lei Romania - P112 - 10.000 Lei
Romania - P111a - 2.000 Lei - Front
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Romania - P New - 50.000 Lei
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Romania - P111a - 2.000 Lei Romania - P New - 50.000 Lei
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Romania - P113 - 500.000 Lei - Front
Romania - P113 - 500.000 Lei
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Romania - P113 - 500.000 Lei
Romania - P116 - 1.000.000 Lei - Front
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Romania - 116 - 1.000.000 Lei

 

A new generation of polymer notes from Romania

Quite a milestone was reached on 1 July 2005 when the National Bank of Romania issued a second generation of polymer notes. Barring the minor changes to Australia’s polymer series in 2002 (printed names to portraits and a switching around in the order of the signatures), this is a first.

These new notes are similar to their predecessors however there are two significant and many subtle changes. The most significant change at least from a financial viewpoint is that effective on this issue, Romania introduced a new or “heavy” Leu achieved by lopping four zeros off its old denominations. As it seeks to get its house in order as a prelude to European Union membership, Romania has a number of economic measures in play. This is but one of them. (Earlier this year I covered a new Turkish issue for similar reasons in which six zeros magically disappeared.)

The new denominations are 1 Leu and 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 Lei. With four zeros gone, these new notes are based on the earlier 10000, 50000, 100000, 500000 and 1000000 Lei. The 2000 L commemorative of 1999 has already been phased out. Under the old system, there was no equivalent to the new 500L (had there been it would have been 5000000 L). One can be excused for thinking that the authorities are leaving room to accommodate future price increases by introducing a higher denomination at this time. Turkey was no different; two new higher denominations arrived with their redenomination.

The second significant change is a reduction in the size of the notes to be in conformity with the current Euro notes. Viz The 1 Leu is the same size as the 5 Euro, the lowest denomination Euro note, the 5 Lei conforms with the 10 Euro and so forth through to the 500 Lei which conforms with the 200 Euro. It is apparent that this move is intended to familiarise Romanians with notes of a size which the authorities hope they will be using in the not too distant future. They probably hope that membership tentatively set for 2007 will not go the same way as Turkey’s which has been deferred for several years.

Design of each new denomination is very similar to that of its equivalent under the old system although many of the subtle changes have come about because of the change in dimensions. Considerable initiative has been demonstrated in the design of the see through panel of each note - now very much consistent with the overall theme rather than a simple generic panel.

This series has arrived relatively quickly. It is less than two years since the last issue of the old series, the 1000000 Lei in December 2003, consigning it to an uncommonly short life. Old notes will cease to be legal tender on 1 January 2007.

Historian, journalist, writer and one time prime minister, Nicolas Iorga (1871 to 1940) appears on the front of the green 1 Leu. Iorga was also President of the National Assembly at one stage. He was assassinated by anti - Semetic nationalists known as the Iron Guard. The Episcopal Cathedral of Curtea de Arges completed in 1521 and a crusader with a cross in its beak appear on the back. The eagle and cross form the see through area. This crusader eagle was central to the coat of arms of the Principality Wallachia which united with the Principality of Moldavia in 1859 to form Romania.

Romania - 1 Lei - Front
Romania - 1 Lei
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Romania - 1 Lei

Internationally renowned composer and musician George Enescu (1881 to 1955) features on the front of the mauve 5 Lei. Enescu served as a professor of music at academies in Paris, Vienna and New York at various times. The Roman Athenaeum concert hall in Bucharest is shown on the back along with a score from Enescu’s “King Oedipus” opera. Musical instruments including a violin and a piano are shown and the see through window is a musical note covering almost half the height of the note.

Romania - 5 Lei - Front
Romania - 5 Lei
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Romania - 5 Lei

Nicolae Grigorescu (1838 to 1907) perhaps the most famous of Romania’s painters is noted for his landscapes is portrayed on the front of the salmon 10 Lei. Grigorescu displayed empathy with his fellow man and hence many of his works featured soldiers and rural workers. A country house adapted from Grigorescu’s “Rodica” appears on the back. The see through area is in the shape of an artist’s palette and incorporates a brush.

Romania - 10 Lei - Front
Romania - 10 Lei
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Romania - 10 Lei

Engineer, inventor and Romania’s foremost aviation pioneer Aurel Vlaicu (1882 to 1913) did much to foster aviation in the region graces the yellow 50 Lei. He was the winner of many international flying awards. Sadly he was to die in a plane crash searching for a way through the Carpathian Mountains. One of his planes, Vlaicu II, a spinning propeller, an engine design and the mountain eagle also feature. For this note the head of a mountain eagle constitutes the see through panel.

Romania - 50 Lei - Front
Romania - 50 Lei
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Romania - 50 Lei

Ion Luca Caragiale (1852 to 1912) noted author, playwright and short story writer appears on the front of the blue 100 L along with a theatrical masque. A statue of Caragiale appears on the back along with the now demolished national theatre formerly in Bucharest. A theatrical masque representing comedy forms the see through area.

Romania - 100 Lei - Front
Romania - 100 Lei
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Romania - 100 Lei

Mihai Eminescu (1850 to 1889) is regarded as the national poet and features on the front of this totally new grey 500L. Eminescu lived a short and troubled life suffering from severe paralysis in his last few years and although he was prolific during this period many of these works were not published until after his death. Nature, love and philosophy were frequent themes running through his poems. A library at Iasi (in the north east of the country) against the backdrop of a lime tree is on the back of this note. “Timpul”, a newspaper founded by Eminescu and which published many of his works also features. An ink stand a quill pen is also shown on the front near the see through panel which in this case takes the form of an hour glass.

Romania - 500 Lei - Front
Romania - 500 Lei
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Romania - 500 Lei

In keeping with the previous issue and many polymer notes there is a range of security issues in these new notes including latent images, security threads, Eurion constellation dots and so forth. A security feature introduced with the 1000000 L in 2003 is micro-perforations in the form of the denomination numeral; this is present in the new 50, 100 and 500 L notes.

National Bank Governor Mugur Constantin Isarescu and Chief Cashier Ionel Nitu are the signatories.