1978 Greece 100 Drachmas
Date of Issue: 8 December 1978.
Theme: Education and its contribution to the nation’s independence.
Obverse: Head of Athena of Piraeus, goddess of wisdom and crafts, war and strategy, and inventions in science, industry, art and agriculture, a bronze statue from an Archeological Museum of Piraeus, wearing a crested Corinthian helmet, with Medusa’s locks visible at her neck. Neoclassical headquarters of the University of Athens.
Reverse: Adamantios Korais (1748-1833), a classical scholar and medical doctor who earned the title of “Teacher of the Greek Nation” for his role in the intellectual revival that took place in Greece before the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence in 1821. The image is based on a portrait in the National Historical Museum in Athens. Church of Arkadi Monastery in Crete, a symbol of Greek independence from Turkey.
Watermark: Head of Charioteer of Delphi (Heniokhos), commissioned by Polyzalus, Delphi Archeological Museum.
Predominant colour: Light brown / red.
Printer: Idryma Trapezis Tis Ellados.
Dimensions: 158 x 67 mm
The Bank of Greece launched its operations on 14 May 1928. In order to deal with the technical problems concerning the replacement of the National Bank of Greece banknotes already in circulation and, given that there was a large stock of non-circulated banknotes issued in 1923-1927, it was decided to put them in circulation after overprinting them with “Bank of Greece”. Five years later, on 3 May 1933, the first 500- and 5,000-drachma banknotes were put in circulation, printed by the American Bank Note Company in the United States.
In 1935, 1,000-, 50- and 100-drachma banknotes were printed in France in very different aesthetics, rich in colour and without heavy outlines and decorations. They depicted a woman from the island of Spetses holding a jar (1,000 drachmas), a female harvester holding a sheaf of wheat (50 drachmas) and the god Hermes (100 drachmas). When the issued banknotes were put in circulation, the overprinted series of the National Bank of Greece were withdrawn from circulation.
The Printing Works of the Bank of Greece (IETA) was established by virtue of a decision of the General Council as of 7 June 1938, which was entrusted with the task of preparing and issuing banknotes. The construction works at Holargos, Athens, began immediately and the first printing machines were ordered. However, because of the war, the operation of IETA started after Greece’s liberation.
In 1939, 50-, 100-, 500- and 1,000-drachma banknotes were issued (2nd series), printed in England and France. The pre-1935 aesthetic perception returned, with ancient themes and heavy decorative frames. In order to meet immediate circulation needs, the 100-drachma banknotes were overprinted to denominate 1,000-drachmas, without this counting as a new series. The 50-drachma banknote, the last banknote issued in the pre-war era, was printed in 1941 and circulated in the Middle East.
During the German occupation, banknotes were issued both in occupied Greece and abroad. Banknotes issued abroad do not bear the issue date, but only the series. 100-drachma (3rd series), 500-drachma (3rd series), 100-drachma (3rd series), 5,000-drachma (2nd series), 20,000-drachma (1st series) and 50,000-drachma (1st series) banknotes were issued.
The 5,000-, 10,000- and 20,000-drachma banknotes issued in the Middle East are intriguing because they have different sizes and colours for the same denomination, without any change in the issue series.
Many banknotes were printed between 1941 and 1944 by various lithographers in the country in huge denominations, due to the galloping inflation; the last one, 100 billion drachmas, was printed on 5 November 1944.
Emergency Law 18/11 November 1944 established the first monetary reform, stating that one postwar drachma would equal 50 billion war drachmas.
The first postwar banknotes that were put into circulation on 11 November 1944 were those of 50 and 100 drachmas and depict the Nike of Samothrace and the portrait of captain Konstantinos Kanaris.
In 1947 the Bank of Greece Printing Works (IETA), which had in the meantime been equipped with modern machinery and staffed with excellent artists, painters, engravers and specialised personnel, printed the 1,000-drachma (Theodoros Kolokotronis), 5,000-drachma (maternity and Thetis bringing Achilles’ armour), 10,000-drachma (Aristotle and the Charioteer of Delphi) and 20,000-drachma (head of Athena and Medusa) banknotes.
In 1950, the first banknote designed, prepared and printed entirely in IETA was that of 5,000 drachmas (4th series), depicting the Greek poet Dionysios Solomos.
The 5,000-drachma banknotes (1st series) were issued in 1950, showing the head of the Kore of Thrace and the temple of Poseidon at Sounion. Chalcography was used for the very first time in banknote printing.
Law 2824/20 June 1954 (Government Gazette 79 A) determined that the new drachma would equal 1,000 old ones and removed three zeros from the denomination of banknotes. Thus, in 1954 the 10,000-, 20,000- and 50,000-drachma banknotes were put in circulation as 10, 20 and 50 drachmas. In 1955 the following banknotes were put into circulation: 10-drachma (head of King George (I) and the Church of the Holy Apostles in Thessaloniki), 20-drachma (Demokritos and Plato’s Symposium), 50-drachma (Pericles and Pericles orating on the Pnyx) and 500-drachma (Socrates and St. Paul on the Areopagus).
In 1956, the 1,000-drachma banknote was printed with Alexander the Great wearing a lion’s pelt on one side and Alexander the Great at the battle of Issos on the other. From the launch of IETA operations until 1956, banknotes were designed by A. Matsoukis, G. Velissaridis, S. Yiannaris, A. Koroyiannakis and F. Mastichiadis.
The 50-drachma banknote was printed in 1964 depicting the head of Arethusa and a composition of an old and a modern shipyard, the 100-drachma banknote in 1966 (Demokritos and the Academy of Athens) and the 500-drachma banknote in 1968 (goddess Demeter, Triptolemos and Persephone). The banknotes were designed by G. Velissaridis and I. Stinis and engraved by L. Orphanos and G. Angelopoulos. Since 1964 IETA has launched a new practice for its banknotes, sorting them by denomination and defining a specific feature and colour for each denomination. Thus, the 50-drachma banknote is smaller in size, blue and comes under the “shipping” theme; the 100-drachma banknote is red and comes under the “education” theme; the 500-drachma banknote is green and relates to “agriculture”; the 1,000-drachma banknote is brown and relates to “tourism”; the 5,000-drachma banknote is blue and comes under the “1821 Revolution”; the 10,000-drachma banknote is violet and relates to “science-health”; and, finally the 200-drachma banknote is orange and relates to “enlightenment” .
The 1,000-drachma banknote printed in 1970 depicted Zeus, a girl from Hydra in local costume and a view of the island. The 50-drachma banknote issued in 1978 depicted the head of Poseidon and the construction of the Argo on the front and Laskarina Bouboulina in the castle of Nafplion on the back. The 100-drachma banknote printed in the same year depicted the head of Athena Promachos and the building of the University of Athens on the front and Adamantios Korais and the Monastery of Arkadi on the back.
In 1983, a 500-drachma banknote was issued, showing Ioannis Kapodistrias and the fortress of Corfu. The first 5,000-drachma banknote since 1950 was issued in 1984, depicting Theodoros Kolokotronis and the Church of the Holy Apostles at Kalamata. A 1,000-drachma banknote was issued in 1987, depicting the head of Apollo and the Discus-thrower by Myron on the one side and the temple of Hera at Olympia on the other. The last copperplate banknote, 10,000 drachmas, was put in circulation in 1995; the portrait of George Papanicolaou adorns the front and the healer-god Asclepius the back.
The last drachma banknote was that of 200 drachmas and was issued in 1996. The lithograph print depicted Rigas Feraios and N. Gysis’ “Secret School”.
From 1970 to 1996, banknotes were designed by painters I. Stinis, V. Sabatakos, P. Sotiriou and N. Nikolaou and engraved by L. Orphanos, G. Angelopoulos, I. Pipinis and E. Perraki. Engraver P. Gravvalos worked as an external associate.
*all history from The Bank of Greece for educational purposes