Most of the money we use every day looks normal—it has a national symbol, a scene, and the face of a famous person from history.
But some people go way beyond what is normal or what has been done in the past. Look at some of the strangest banknotes that have ever been made. Even if they seem a little strange, each of them has a great story behind them.
Burma 75 kyats
In the West, it is hard to believe that a president would celebrate his birthday by putting out a new currency. But this really did happen in Asia.
Because he was interested in astrology and numbers, Burmese dictator Ne Win was very interested in how much money was worth. He once thought it would be fun to make a new bill for his birthday.
Even though Ne Win isn’t in the picture on the note, the odd nominal value is a tribute to his 75th birthday.
Burma: 45 and 90 kyats
Not always does it pay off to use lucky numbers. especially if you are in charge of the country.
Ne Win liked the 75-kyat notes, but they didn’t seem to make him happy for very long. Since 9 was his favourite number, he made two new banknotes with the odd amounts of 45 and 90. One of his favourite numbers was on each of these bills.
Last but not least, neither the number 9 nor the 45 or 90 kyat bills worked for Ne Win. At age 90, he was put under house arrest, and he died two years later.
One Hundred Trillion Dollars – Zimbabwe
Rich doesn’t always mean that you have a lot of money. In Zimbabwe, you might have run into a hungry billionaire.
In 2008, when hyperinflation was very bad in Zimbabwe, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe printed a $100 trillion dollar bill. That is indeed 14 zeros. When you turn that into US dollars, it’s almost $300.
Zimbabweans used to spend billions of dollars just on food and drink, which are very basic needs. In 2008, a loaf of bread cost about Z$300 billion.
All of these things led to riots and strikes in the streets. So, this money was taken out of circulation in 2009, and now collectors want to get their hands on it.
Emergency Money 50 Pfennigs – Germany
This one seems kind of scary. The 50-Pfennig banknote, which showed people with skulls for faces doing what looked like some kind of spooky ritual, showed how things were going in Germany at the time.
During World War One, Germany’s economy and government were both in bad shape. Due to the high prices and lack of metal, the first bills were printed on paper and were called notgeld or emergency money.
This 50 Pfennig banknote shows death because it has the number of people who died in the war on it. After the war, the 50-Pfennig banknote and other notgeld banknotes quickly became popular with numismatists and collectors because of how they looked and what they meant historically.
Five Lirot of Israel
Albert Einstein was on a lot of things, but did you know that he was also on a banknote? He almost went into politics because he was Jewish, had nice ideas, and was very popular.
Obviously, if he wanted to, he could. In 1952, David Ben-Gurion, who was the prime minister of Israel, suggested that Albert Einstein become the president of Israel. Einstein was flattered by the invitation, but he decided not to go because he had already decided to recognise Israel on TV.
Ten years after he died, Israel honoured him by putting his picture on a 5-Lirot bill.
3 dollars Cook Islands
The 3-dollar note from the Cook Islands honours Polynesian culture by showing a naked woman riding a shark. Other currencies, on the other hand, show traditional portraits or scenes.
The funny story behind this bill is as follows: A story says that the shark helped the woman find her lost loved one at sea. She brought a coconut with her, and when she was thirsty, she cracked it open and drank the milk.
She had to go to the bathroom soon after, so she did it right on the shark’s back! This made him so angry that he shoved the woman into the water, where she drowned. Luckily, another shark came to help her, but this time she kept her cool until they reached land.
The moral of this story is that you should never urinate on a shark while you are on it.
There are a few other things about this bill that make it unique. First of all, unlike the other notes on this list, this one is still being used. But no bank outside of the Cook Islands will take this money, so you can only spend it or trade it there.