Presented here is an Un Colon note intended for circulation by El Banco Anglo Costarricense in Costa Rica post-World War I - it was not issued.
The front of the note, printed primarily with black ink, features a portrait of Costa Rican leader Josť Rafael de Gallegos y Alvarado; it is flanked by intricate scroll work that includes indications of the note's denomination and a splash of green, blue and red.. Above the portrait is printed "PAGARA AL" which translates to English as "PAY THE". Below the portrait is printed "PORTADOR A LA VISTA LA CONTIDAD DE / UN COLON / EN MONEDA NACIONAL DE ORO / CONFORME A LEY 23 JUNIO 1917". Translated to English, it reads: "BEARER ON DEMAND THE AMOUNT / ONE COLON / IN NATIONAL GOLD CURRENCY / ACCORDING TO LAW OF 23 JUNE 1917".
On the back of the note is seen the allegorical figure of Mercury
(the messenger) wearing a winged helmet and winged sandals; Mercury
was the Roman god of wealth and commerce. Mercury
is shown holding a Guaria Morada, the national flower of Costa Rica. The central figure is surrounded by intricate scroll work, with multiple placements of the note's denomination.
El Banco Anglo Costarricense (translation: The Anglo Costa Rican Bank) was formed in Costa Rica in 1863, and was capitalized with a combination of British and Costa Rican funds. It grew to become a large and successful bank, and was, at one time, Costa Rica's oldest and most successful.
It was nationalized and became a State Bank in 1949 under the government of Jose Figueres Ferrer. The bank was closed by the Costa Rican Government in 1994 due to its immense debt and unrecoverable financial position.
In a speech to the Costa Rican people about the bank's failures, President Figueres Olsen stated: "The magnitude of these losses is so great that it would be enough to eradicate all the slums in the country, or to build more than 60 aqueducts like the one we plan to build in Cartago, or to completely pave the thousand kilometers of national highways that are in poor condition." The losses were ~$16 billion (Costa Rican Colon).
Multiple members of the bank's management team were accused of embezzlement and investigated.
As an unsigned remainder, the note is not scarce/rare or expensive, but I find it attractive and added and a three-piece consecutively-numbered set to my small world currency collection for that reason. The note was printed by the American Bank Note Company; it was part of an auction of the bank's assets in 1996. Over 60,000 of the unsigned UN COLON notes were included in the auction.
For more of my topics on commemorative coins and medals, including more on the history and design of each of the half dollars presented here, see: Commems Collection