Two years ago my father and I introduced a new category to our blogs, this coincided with the end of my European adventure. The category, as I am sure you can guess, was travel. While I was traveling, it was exciting to use the local currency. I’ve seen so many banknotes from different corners of the world; but to be able to go to those corners, and use the currency awakened a whole new excitement inside me. I became so intrigued by the stories I was told. I would hear tales as to the history of the nations monetary system, and why the images appearing on the banknotes were special, important, and defined the country.
While most of the countries I visited were in the European Union (and therefore using the euro) I didn’t get to experience the same connection to their currency. However, this does not mean that these currencies are not worth talking about, especially their past currency. Since I am currently in England, I am almost afraid to talk about this topic; as talks around the EU are flooding the radio/TV channels, and create passion and emotion in people on both sides.
My cousin (a born and raised Brit) and I were having a discussion recently about patriotism. With the Independence Day Celebration happening in America, we compared the two nations and how patriotism is perceived for both. He brought up an interesting point, currency. While I hadn’t thought much about England not adopting the euro after joining the EU, my cousin spoke about a completely different approach to defining patriotism. He got so passionate as he spoke about how the English would never abandon the pound. (I should add, my cousin is not an economist nor is any of this, unless sited, more than just our opinions.)
This conversation reminded me of one I had had with a local in Croatia. He told me how disappointing it would be for him if Croatia adopted the euro. He spoke to me about the importance of their own currency, the kuna, but he was sure that eventually they would lose this and the country would have to take the euro. He told me when this time came; it would be a very sad day for him. (read my full blog about Croatia and the kuna here)
I started to recognize how important currency is to us, and our countries identity. These banknotes aren’t just pieces of paper (or plastic) but are depictions of our leaders, landmarks, hopes, pride, country, and maybe most importantly, countryman. I believe that a countries currency is as significant and symbolic as a countries flag or their language. These are all historical embodiment’s of the country, their citizens and what they stand for. I couldn’t imagine visiting England and not paying for my fish and chips with my Pounds.
I agree with my cousin, while there were several factors as to why the euro was not adopted in England, I believe the citizens of England would never allow their pound to be taken. And while there are 9 EU countries that currently use their own currency, they are expected to convert eventually to the euro. The exception to this is England and Denmark, who opted out of ever using the euro. (European Central Bank (2016) Euro area 1999–2015. Retrieved from Euro area 1999 – 2015)
Therefore I want to introduce a new blog category, The Lost Banknotes of The EU. I will go through the EU countries and pull out some of their old currency. I will look into the transition of their currency to the euro, and will research how the countries monetary systems have changed since. I believe this could be an interesting window into the pre-euro Europe and their banknotes. Stay tuned.