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Wednesday, 20 April 2016

295) Currency & Coinage of Guatemala: Quetzal & Centavo:

                  About Guatemala:

The name “Guatemala” derives from the “Nahuatl” word “Cuauhtemallan” or the “place of many trees”, which is a derivative of the K’iche’ Mayan word for “many trees”.

The currency name is derived from the “Resplendent Quetzal” which is the National Bird of Guatemala. In ancient Mayan culture, the Quetzal bird’s tail feathers were used as currency.

Resplendent Quetzal: This is a bird of the Trogan family, found from Chiapas, Mexico to Western Panama, unlike the other Quetzals of the genus Pharomachrus which are found in South America and Eastern Panama. The word Quetzal is derived from “Nahuatl” (Aztec) where “Quetzalli” means “tall upstanding plume” or “Quetzal tail feather”. In the Nahuatl word “Quetzaltototl” it means “Quetzal feathered bird”. The Quetzal is about 36 to 40 cm (or 14 to 16 inches) long. The male has an elegant tail streamer of upto 65 cm (or 26 inches). The bird weighs about 210 gms. It has a green body and red breast. Its green upper tail coverts hide its tail. It is much sought after for its colourful plumage. 
                        An image of a Resplendent Quetzal - male

 The Quetzal’s IUCN (international Union for Conservation of Nature) Status is presently “Near Threatened” due to its habitat loss.

The Resplendent Quetzal is considered divine and is associated with the “snake god” – “Quetzalcoatl” by Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilisations.

Legends related with the Quetzal:

The Mayans regarded the Quetzal as symbolising freedom and wealth. Their iridescent green tail feathers were symbolic of spring plant growth & Quetzals were revered by the ancient Mayans and Aztecs who viewed Quetzals as the “God of the Air” and as a symbol of goodness and light.

The Kings and nobility wore head-dresses made of Quetzal feathers.

There is a popular legend that Tecun Uman who was a Ruler & Warrior of the Quiche (K’iche’) Maya had a Quetzal as his “Nahual” (meaning “spirit guide”). During the latter stages of the Spanish conquest of Guatemala, the Quiche repelled several attacks from the Spanish Army, even though they were outmatched in weaponry – guns, armour and cavalry against their spears and arrows. When Tecun Uman took to battle, a Quetzal always flew overhead.

 In his fight against the Spanish aggressor Pedro de Alvarado, in the first strike Tecun Uman disabled Pedro’s horse (The Quiche had never seen a horse before), nevertheless, they fought valiantly against the Spanish cavalry. Pedro mounted another horse and in the skirmish, Tecum Uman was mortally wounded. The Quetzal flew down and landed on Tecum Uman’s chest dipping its feathers in the warrior prince’s blood. It is said that the bird acquired its distinctive red chest feathers, which immortalised the Warrior Prince who died while fighting to save his territories from the Spanish aggressors.

The legend further goes that the Quetzal which used to sing beautifully before the Spanish invasion, has fallen silent ever since & that it will sing again when the land is truly free.

Guatemala in Central America borders Mexico to the North and West, the Pacific Ocean to the Southwest, Belize to the Northeast, the Caribbean & Honduras to the East and San Salvador to the Southeast. It is the most populous country in Central America, having a population of about 16.00 million.

At one time, Guatemala was home to the ancient Mayan civilisation, which extended across Mesoamerica.

In the 16th Century, most of present day Guatemala was occupied by the Spanish and became part of the Viceroyalty of “New Spain”.

In 1839, Guatemala seceded from the Federal Republic which became defunct and was dissolved in 1841.

From the mid to late 19th Century, Guatemala went through a period of instability and civil war.

From the early 20th Century, Guatemala was ruled by several dictators shored up by the United Fruit Company (an American Corporation that traded in tropical fruit grown in Central and South American plantations and sold in the USA and Europe. This Corporation in the mid-20th Century controlled vast territories and transportation networks in Central America, the Caribbean coast of Colombia, Ecuador and the West Indies) and the US Government.

In 1944, a military coup led to overthrowing of the dictatorship of Jorge Ubico and resulted in a decade long revolution which led to several social and economic Reforms, which were pro-democratic in nature.

In 1954, the USA backed a military coup which again set up a dictatorship in Guatemala.

From 1960 to 1996, Guatemala went through another civil war fought between the US backed dictatorship/government and leftist freedom fighters which resulted in massacres of the Mayan population perpetrated by the military government.

In 1996, a United Nations negotiated peace accord resulted in Guatemala going through a period of economic growth and democratic elections. Even then, it is plagued with high rates of poverty, crime, drug trade and instability.

The country has a rich and distinct culture arising out of a fusion of indigenous and Spanish cultures.

The evolution of Currency/Coinage in Guatemala:

In Guatemala, the ancient Mayans used Quetzal feathers, salt, obsidian, precious stones, jade and cacao beans for currency.

Around the second half of the Fifteenth Century, the commercial maritime and ground routes brought about a flourishing trade in a variety of products. Several items like cacao, exotic bird feathers, obsidian, salt, shells, ceramic and jade were much appreciated by the Spanish elite all over the Central American States under Spanish occupation and in all Spain and most of Europe. 

In 1524, Spanish forces invaded Guatemala conquering territories and fighting with the Quiches and other indigenous inhabitants of Guatemala, their main objective being the search of and mining of gold. The captured indigenous inhabitants were put to forced labour in the gold and precious metal mines.

The conquest by Spain required a standard monetary system to be adopted in place of the barter trading. As such a mechanism based on Spanish Currency was adopted.

In 1543, the first “House of Ironwork” was set up for metals for the objective of legalising their weights for use as money and for applying the “Quinto Real” Collection (this was nicknamed the “King’s fifth” and was a 20% tax collection established in 1504 that Spain levied on the mining of precious metals). Simultaneously, imported metallic coins were in circulation.

On 17.01.1731, King Philip V of Spain authorised setting up of the “Currency House of Guatemala” through the “Cedula Real” of 17.01.1731 (explained elsewhere in this post). 

In 1733, for the first time coins were minted in Guatemala. These coins were minted with the mint mark “G”. This was the first Banknotes were issued locally only 140 years later in 1873.

In 1776, with the transfer of the “Valle de la Ermita” (the city of Guatemala is located in a mountain valley which the Spanish called by this name), the mint mark “G” was revised to “NG” (New Guatemala). The new “Currency house” set up in Neuva Guatemala, continued minting coins exhibiting the characteristics of Spanish colonial style coins until the end of the colonial period.

On 15.09.1821, the Provinces that had integrated into the Kingdom of Guatemala were free from the Spanish Crown.  The entire Region threw off the Spanish yoke and formed the “Federal Republic of Central America”.

Commemorative coins were issued featuring the symbolic “Tree of Liberty and five mountain peaks” – representing the free nations of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, who were all separate States, but united under one banner. These coins were inscribed with the names of each State.

An ensuing economic crisis after Guatemala’s newly gained Independence left the Government with no alternative but to accept the proposal of the Empire of Augustin de Iturbide to become a part of Mexico by  05.01.1822.

The fall of the Iturbide Regime led to the Independence and formation of the Central American Federation through the Decree of 01.07.1823 through which these Nations not only obtained their absolute independence from Spain and Mexico, but from any other Nation which would want to govern them, taking on the name of “United Provinces Of Central America/Central American Federation”, integrated by Guatemala, San Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

Initially, the availability of Spanish coins imported as well as minted in the coinage mints of Mexico, Potosi (Bolivia) and Lima (Peru) circulated during the first decades of the 19th Century.

In 1824, the first coins of the Federation of Central American States were minted, authorising only the currency house of Guatemala to mint coins that were legal tender within the Federation from 18.04.1824 onwards.

In 1859, a renovated Currency house, gave origin to one of the most interesting and varied periods in coin minting in Guatemala’s numismatic history, when a distinctive coinage was adopted, based on the Real, which depicted on the Obverse three mountain peaks and showed the value on the Reverse. The higher values featured an allegorical figure or a profile of Rafael Carrera, the Founder of the Republic.

This Currency House continued minting coins during the Conservative governments, followed by the Liberal governments, with some changes in designs.

In 1872, a new style National Coat of Arms depicting the Quetzal (introduced in 1871), was included on the Obverses in the coinage, during the government of Miguel Garcia Granados. It was, also, during this time that the establishment of private banks was authorised which together with the State Banks began to issue Banknotes in 1873.

On 21.03.1874, Guatemala broke away from the Central American Federation and was now called the “Republic of Guatemala” under General Rafael Carrera.

In 1924, the Quetzal of 100 Centavos was introduced. An Armorial Obverse and a Reverse portrait of Fray Bartolome de las Casas (who introduced Christianity and defended the rights of the indigenous people against the ruling regime) appeared on the Centavo, while in the higher values, the Reverses depicted a Quetzal or a Mayan monolith.

Another economic crisis aggravated by plagues which affected the cochineal insect – the most important economic activity in Guatemala during that period – compounded by the scarcity of circulating currency provoked by the instability in poor operations of the Currency House, led to circulation of foreign currency brought in from England, USA, France, Chile and Costa Rica.

When the Republic of Guatemala was founded, during the government of Rafael Carrera, the “Peso” was adopted as the coinage/currency of Guatemala which included the circulation of silver and gold coins.

During the last decades of the 19th Century, the decimal system was introduced and paper currency was issued on behalf of the old Banks rendering the Peso to be demonetised except for the lower denominations.

During the government of Manuel Estrada Cabrera, the Banking Committee was created, which authorised the printing of paper currency with a guarantee of the denominational values from the Banks and those of incomes from tobacco, chichi (contraband liquor)and aguardiente (spirituous liquor), as well as, Real Estate belonging to the State.

 In June 1900, the authorisation of the fractioned monetary issue in nickel (of one, half and a fourth of a Real) was made.

In 1922, when General Jose Maria Orellana took office as the President of the Republic of Guatemala, an economic crisis had engulfed Guatemala.

First Major Reform of the Monetary and Banking System:

A series of economic fluctuations during the following governments mainly the severe crisis during the period of President Manuel Estrada Cabrera brought about the Monetary Reform of 1924.

In November 1924 and February 1925, the “Monetary and Conversion Law” and the “Law of Credit Institutions” were issued.

The Monetary Law adopted the gold pattern (i.e. coins made of gold or that which could be exchanged for gold, in other words, were “convertible”).

The Monetary Law also created a new monetary unit – the “Quetzal” which was at par with the UD dollar. Based on the exchange rate of the UD dollar, the Quetzal was made equivalent to 60 Pesos.

On 26.11.1924, the Quetzal was adopted as a new monetary unit.

The creation of a new monetary symbol paved the way for founding the Central Bank of Guatemala which took over the functions of issuing and circulation of the currency, a task hitherto managed by various private banks. The most important feature of these reforms was that it transformed an inconvertible system into one of great exchange stability and the monetary issue was reserved exclusively for the state.

Under this new reform, the silver and copper coins were issued for fractioned money while the larger denominations were reserved for paper currency.

In 1925, coins were circulated in the denominations of 1 Quetzal, ½ Quetzal, ¼ Quetzal, 10 Centavos and 5 Centavos were minted in silver, while coins of 1 Centavo were minted with a copper alloy.

On 20.06.1926, the Central Bank of Guatemala was set up for issuing the currency/coinage, with both Public and Private equity shareholding.

The Banknote designs carried President Orellana’s portrait, followed by that of General Jorge Ubico’s portrait, both of whom also figured on the coinage. Also, in 1926, 20, 10 and 5 Quetzal coins were minted in gold alloy.

In 1932, two new denominations of ½ Centavos and 2 Centavos were minted in Copper and Zinc alloys were circulated.

The Second Reform of the Monetary and Banking System of the Republic of Guatemala was the result of the October 1944 Revolution which saw a democratising phase and bold new reforms. The Revolution of 1944, brought about sea-changes at all levels, one of them being the dissolution of the Central Bank of Guatemala & setting up the Banco de Guatemala.

The Banco de Guatemala was created on 01.07.1946, and it began issuing its own Banknotes with new characteristics and designs in the denominations of 50 Centavos, 1, 5, 10m 20 and the newly introduced denomination of 100 Quetzals. These Banknotes were dated 15.09.1948. The Banco de Guatemala continued minting coins of the value of 25, 10, 5 and 1 Centavo of a Quetzal.

On 20.08.1964, the Law of Monetary Species was enacted which determined that the coins issued as of that date would be in the denominations of 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1 Centavos of a Quetzal and defined the metallic composition of the alloys of each denomination, weight, design, diameter and width.

The Banknotes denominations were defined as 50 Centavos, 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 Quetzals. The dimensions, designs and mottos on the coins were also defined under Article 6 of the Monetary Law.

Until 1965, coins in the denominations of 5 Centavos and above were minted in 72% silver.

On 29.12.1996, the Agreement of Long and Lasting Peace was signed by the Government of Guatemala and the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unit which brought about enduring peace in the country.

To commemorate this historic Agreement, a one Quetzal coin was brought out with the inscription “Peace” as part of a stylish dove, with the motto “PAZ FIRME Y DURADERA” (meaning “Long and lasting Peace”) with the date “29 DECIEMBRE DE 1996” (December 29, 1996), with the denomination and the name of the Republic of Guatemala.

During the 1990s, interesting coins called the “Cedulas” began circulating which were very small bills issued by Municipalities and commercial establishments for payment of their obligations.

The private monetary issue during this period was also regulated – these coins were called “Fichas” and were minted for use in “fincas” (meaning “plantations”), hotels and commercial businesses et al. Interestingly, these coins were re-introduced variations of “Cedulas” and “Fichas” (private coins) which were used regionally during the 19th and 20th Centuries.

On 06.01.1997, Law was enacted for issuing of a 200 Quetzal Banknote.

In 1998 and 1999, ½ and 2 Centavos coins were re-introduced respectively.

Banco de Guatemala:

The Banco de Guatemala (Bank of Guatemala) is the Central Bank of Guatemala, which was established in 1945.

The Second Monetary and Banking Reforms of the Republic of Guatemala led to the creation of the Banco de Guatemala on 01.07.1946 which superseded the Central Bank.

The Banco de Guatemala commenced operations on 15.09.1948 and began circulating its own Banknotes with new designs. These initial designs with minor changes continued till the early 1970s when totally different pieces from the previous ones began circulating which have retained their original designs to the present day.

In 1949, the coinage was redesigned and included presently circulating designs, undergoing some changes over a period of time.

In July 1954, the minting operations were transferred to the Banco de Guatemala which had hitherto been handled by the National Currency House.

Presently Circulating Coins:

The presently circulating coins are in the denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 Centavos and 1 Quetzal.
 The Obverses of all denominations depict the National Coat of arms of Guatemala.

On the Reverses, on the upper periphery is inscribed “REPUBLICA DE GUATEMALA” (meaning “Republic of Guatemala”). Along the bottom periphery the year of minting is mentioned.

The Reverse of the One Centavo coin depicts an effigy of Fray Bartolome de las Casas and bears the inscription “UN CENTAVO” and “FRAY BARTOLOME DE LAS CASAS”.

The specifications of this coin are: Diameter: 19.00 mm; Alloy/Metallic Composition: .985 Aluminium; 0.015 Magnesium; Weight: 8.00 gms; Shape: Circular.

The Reverse of the Five Centavos coin depicts the Tree of Liberty and the numeral “5” . Also mentioned are the word “CENTAVOS” and at the bottom of the Tree “LIBRE CREZCA FECUNDO” (meaning “Grow Free and Fecund”).

The specifications of this coin are: Diameter: 16.00 mm; Alloy/Metallic Composition: .610 Copper; 0.200 Zinc; .190 Nickel; Weight: 1.60 gms; Shape: Circular.

The Reverse of the Ten Centavos coin depicts the figure of a monolith from Quirigua and the numeral “10”. Also mentioned are the words “CENTAVOS” and on the lower periphery “MONOLITO DE QUIRIGUA” (meanng “Monolith of Quirigua”).

The specifications of this coin are: Diameter: 21.00 mm; Alloy/Metallic Composition: .610 Copper; 0.200 Zinc; .190 Nickel; Weight: 3.00 gms; Shape: Circular.

The Reverse of the Twenty-five Centavos coin depicts the head of an indigenous woman and the numeral “25”. Also mentioned are the words “CENTAVOS”.

The specifications of this coin are: Diameter: 27.00 mm; Alloy/Metallic Composition: .610 Copper; 0.200 Zinc; .190 Nickel; Weight: 8.00 gms; Shape: Circular.

The Reverse of the Fifty Centavos coin depicts the National Flower “Monja Blanca” (White nun or “Lycaste Skinnery Alba”) in the left lateral field, the inscription “MONJA BLANCA FLOR NACIONAL” (meaning “White nun National flower”) and the numeral “50”. Also mentioned are the words “CENTAVOS”.

The specifications of this coin are: Diameter: 24.25 mm; Alloy/Metallic Composition: .700 Copper; 0.245 Zinc; .055 Nickel; Weight: 5.50 gms; Shape: Circular.

The Reverse of the One Quetzal coin bears the inscription “PAZ” (meaning “Peace”) as part of a stylised dove, with the legend “Paz Firme y Duradera” (meaning “Firm and Lasting Peace”) and the numeral “50”. Also mentioned are the words “CENTAVOS”.

The specifications of this coin are: Diameter: 29.00 mm; Alloy/Metallic Composition: .700 Copper; 0.245 Zinc; .055 Nickel; Weight: 11.00 gms; Shape: Circular.

The Currency of Guatemala is the Quetzal (Quetzales in plural), sub-divided into 100 Centavos (nicknamed as the “lenes”).

Coat of Arms/Emblem of Guatemala:

The Coat of Arms/Emblem of Guatemala was adopted on 18.11.1871. The salient features are as under:

Armiger: Republic of Guatemala.

Crest: Resplendent Quetzal (the symbol of National Independence and autonomy).

Escutcheon: Parchment scroll with the inscription “Libertad 15 de Septiembre de 1821” (written in gold)

Supporters: Wreath of Bay Laurel.

Compartment: Two Remington Rifles crossed with bayonets and two swords, representing honour.

Motto: “Libertad 15 de Septiembre de 1821”.

Interestingly, the items are supposed to be placed on a shield on a field of blue, however, although it was enacted, the shield was not used giving the Emblem a stylised look, nevertheless, not having a shield technically means that by heraldic standards, Guatemala does not have a Coat of Arms.

Banknotes of Guatemala:

The first Banknotes were introduced by the Central Bank of Guatemala. The denominations introduced were 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 100 Quetzal.

In 1933, ½ Quetzal Banknotes were circulated.

In 1946, the Bank of Guatemala took over the printing and circulation of Banknotes. Its forst issues were overprints of Banknotes of the Central Bank.

In 1967, a new denomination of 50 Quetzals was added to the previous five denominations already in circulation.

In the 1990s, ½ and 1 Quetzal Banknotes were replaced by coins of these denominations.

Interestingly, in the top right hand corner of the front of each Banknote, the value of the Banknote is depicted in Mayan numerals, representing Guatemala’s cultural history.

                                A table depicting Mayan numerals
Presently Circulating Banknotes:

The Banknotes presently in circulation are 50 Centavos, 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 Quetzals.

On the Front of the 50 Centavos Banknote is depicted Tecun Uman, Prince and Commander-and-Chief of the Quiche Realm during the Spanish Conquest.
 A statue depicting Tecum Uman, the K'iche' Maya Ruler and Warrior king who fought valiantly against the Spanish aggressors

Tecum Uman (1500- 20.02.1524): was one of the last Rulers of the K’iche’ Maya in the Highlands of present day Guatemala. He was killed while fighting the Spanish Aggressors, near Quetzaltenango, while defending his territories. He has been declared as Guatemala’s official National Hero on 22.03.1960 and is commemorated every year on 20th February. He has been honoured with several statues and poetry, apart from legends enacted in the form of folkloric dances and prayers.
                               An image of the Tikal's Temple I
 On the Back of the 50 Centavos Banknote is depicted the Tikal’s Temple I.

Tikal Temple I: this is one of the major structures at Tikal, one of the largest cities and archaeological sites of the pre-Columbian Maya civilisation in Mesoamerica. It is located in the Peten Basin region of Northern Guatemala. It was built by Jasaw Chan K’awiil I out of local limestone. It is also known as the “El Gran Jaguar” (meaning “Temple of the Great Jaguar”), because of a lintel that represents the King Jasaw Chan K’awiil sitting upon a jaguar throne. It is a typically, Peten-styled stepped pyramid structure built around 732 AD & was abandoned around 1450 AD. Excavated between 1955 to 1964, it is situated at the heart of a World Heritage Site. The Temple is surmounted by a characteristic roof comb, which is a distinctive Maya architectural feature. The Temple rises 47 metres (or 154 feet) over the Great Plaza and the pyramid is topped by a funerary shrine.

The colour of this Banknote is Brown. It is not seen in circulation due to is diminished vale, but it has not been withdrawn from circulation. 
                           The Front of the 1 Quetzal Banknote

On the Front of the 1 (One) Quetzal Banknote is depicted Jose Maria Orellana, President of Guatemala during the Currency Reform that introduced the Quetzal as the official currency of Guatemala.

Jose Maria Orellano Pinto (11.07.1872 – 26.09.1926): He was a political and military leader in Guatemala. He was the Chief of Staff of President Manuel Estrada Cabrera and President of Guatemala (from 10.12.1921 to 26.09.1926), after overthrowing the Conservative Unionist President Carlos Herrara.

During his Presidency, the Quetzal was established as the currency of Guatemala. He died under suspicious circumstances in 1926.
                      The Back of the 1 Quetzal Banknote

On the Back of the 1 (One) Quetzal Banknote is depicted the Main Building of the Central Bank of Guatemala.

The colour of this Banknote is Green. This Banknote has also been introduced as a polymer Banknote on 20.08.2007.
                         The Front of the Five Quetzals Banknote

On the Front of the 5 (Five) Quetzal or "Cinco Quetzales" Banknote is depicted Justo Rufino Barrios, Co-Leader of the Liberal Revolution of 1871. There is an image of the Resplendent Quetzal flying towards the left on the upper centre periphery and the Mayan numeral "___" representing the number five towards the top right hand side.

Justo Rufino Barrios (19.07.1835 – 02.04.1885): He was the President of Guatemala (from 04.06.1873 to 02.04.1885). He was known for his liberal reforms and his attempts to reunite Central America. He along with his son were killed in action in the Battle of Chalchuapa in San Salvador against Mexican forces who had annexed most of Central America to the Mexican territories. 
                       The Back of the Five Quetzals Banknote

On the Back of the 5 (Five) Quetzal Banknote is depicted an Education Allegory.

The colour of this Banknote is Violet. This Banknote has also been introduced as a polymer Banknote on 14.11.2011.
                 The Front of the Ten Quetzals Banknote

On the Front of the 10 (Ten) Quetzal or "Diez Quetzales" Banknote is depicted Miguel Garcia Granados, Deputy and Main Leader of the Liberal Revolution of 1871.There is an image of the Resplendent Quetzal flying towards the left  on the upper centre periphery and two lines representing the Mayan numeral ten towards the top right hand side.

Miguel Garcia Granados y Zavala (29.09.1809-08.09.1878): He was the President of Guatemala from 29.06.1871 to 04.06.1873. A moderate liberal, he was an influential person in shaping the destiny of Guatemala in the 19th Century.
                              The Back of the Ten Quetzals Banknote

On the Back of the 10 (Ten) Quetzal Banknote is depicted a picture from the Guatemalan National Assembly of 1872.

The colour of this Banknote is Red.
                  The Front of the Twenty Quetzals Banknote

On the Front of the 20 (Twenty) Quetzal or "Veinte Quetzales" Banknote is depicted Jose Felipe Mariano Galvez, State Leader of the State of Guatemala, within the United Provinces of Central America.

Jose Felipe Marino Galvez (1794 to 29.03.1862): He was a jurist and Liberal politician in Guatemala. He was the Governor/Chief of State of Guatemala (from 1831 to 1838) within the Federal Republic of Central America. He was instrumental in violently suppressing a peasant’s revolt using a scorched earth policy against rural communities. In 1838, Antigua Guatemala, Chiquimula and Satama towns withdrew recognition of his government and Rafael Carrera’s Revolutionary forces entered Guatemala city, forcing him to relinquish power.
                          The Back of the Twenty Quetzals Banknote

On the Back of the 20 (Twenty) Quetzal Banknote is depicted the Signing of the Declaration of the Central American Independence.

The colour of this Banknote is Blue.

On the Front of the 50 (Fifty) Quetzal Banknote is depicted Carlos Zachrisson, former Finance Minister from 1923 to 1926.

On the Back of the 50 (Fifty) Quetzal Banknote is depicted an Allegory of the importance of coffee to the economy of Guatemala

The colour of this Banknote is Orange.

On the Front of the 100 (Hundred) Quetzal Banknote is depicted Francois Marroquin, First Bishop of the Realm of Goathemala and Founder of the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala.

Francisco Marroquin (1499 to 18.04.1563): He was the first Bishop of Guatemala, translator of Central American languages and provisional Governor of Guatemala.

On the Back of the 100 (One Hundred) Quetzal Banknote is depicted the First University building in Antigua Guatemala.

“Antigua Guatemala” (meaning “Ancient Guatemala”) or Antigua or “La Antigua”: is a city in the central highlands of Guatemala famous for its well-preserved Spanish Baroque-influenced architecture as well as several ruins of colonial churches. Antigua was the capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala and has been designated as a World Heritage Site. Father Francisco Marroquin, the First Bishop of Guatemala in 1548, to the Spanish King asking for a superior institution to be set up in Guatemala. Before he passed away, he left some money in the Will to establish a school, and the “Santo Tomas de Aquino School” (or School of Saint Thomas) was set up in 1559, where grammar, arts, philosophy and theology were taught.

Although some other schools, like the San Lucas School, were set up by the missionaries, the First University was set up only on 07.01.1681 after several petitions to King Carlos II of Spain. Interestingly, although the Universidad de San Carlos of Guatemala is named after him, the University does not follow any of his philosophies or teachings.

The colour of this Banknote is Sepia.

On the Front of the 200 (Two Hundred) Quetzal Banknote is depicted Sebastian Hurtado, Mariano Valverde and German Alcantara – three Marimba composers.

Marimba: The Marimba is a percussion instrument considting of a set of wooden bars struck with mallets to produce musical tones. Resonators attached to the bars as those of a piano, amplify their sound.

Originally, brought to South America by African slaves as a type of balafon (a type of wooden xylophone or percussion idiophone), the instrument has graduated to very sophisticated forms.

Modern uses of the Marimba include solo performances, wood-wind and brass ensembles, marimba concertos, jazz ensembles, drum and bule bands and orchestral compositions. A Marimba player is called a “Marimbist”.

On the Back of the 200 (Two Hundred) Quetzal Banknote is depicted an allegory of the marimba, the National instrument and a musical score of La Flor del Café by Alcantara.


  1. Long time to see these coins. Thanks for sharing such an informative blog. Jindal Bullion appreciates your work.

  2. Satyajit Pratap has commented:
    "Now I know the name of one more currency....Tx ."

    1. Satyajit, the currency name is derived from the “Resplendent Quetzal” which is the National Bird of Guatemala. In ancient Mayan culture, the Quetzal bird’s tail feathers were used as currency, so the name is given to honour the ancient cultures and this beautiful bird. Of course, no one "plucks" its feathers nowadays as it is thought to bring great prosperity. Nevertheless, its IUCN Status is still "NT" (Near threatened)due to habitat loss.