Looking for a new banknote for your collection? The 500-ruble issued in 1912 by the Russian Imperial Empire is one of the most spectacular foreign banknotes of the early nineteen hundreds. It is still one of the largest banknotes ever to be issued, by any nation, measuring 215mm by 127mm. Yet, even with its large size it’s designers were able create a true piece of art.
The obverse features the imperial coat of arms, the denomination, and a watermark of Tsar Peter the Great (r.1682-1725) on the left-hand side. The reverse features a portrait of Tsar Peter I, the Great, and on the left an allegoric woman symbolizing mother Russia seated towards the right side of the note. The portrait of Tsar Peter is perhaps the most striking feature of the note. An engraved version of Carel de Moor’s 1717 painting of Peter I, the portrait is said to have been the personal favorite of the Tsar.
There are two varieties of signatures on the 1912 banknote. One signed by Konshin and the other by Shipov, with the Konshin signature being the rarer of the two. The larger survival number of the Shipov variety is due to the onset of WWI and its increase of national inflation in Russia, resulting in an upsurge of monetary printing.
A true classic of Russian banknotes, the 1912 500 rubles is arguably one of the most beautiful notes of the early nineteen hundreds.