Coming in Like a Lion

It is March and in the northern hemisphere we have the phrase that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. It has hardly been lion-like weather here in northeast Wisconsin so far this month as we have been in mid-30s F so far and may hit 60 on Sunday.

But I want to talk about lions, not the weather. Although currently only native to Africa and parts of India, depictions of lions appear on banknotes from many different countries.

This note from the Democratic Republic of the Congo from the early 1960s depicts a lion overlooking the Ruzizi river outflow from Lake Kivu on the border with Rwanda.

The Central Bank of Kenya chose a pride of lions for the back of its first issue twenty shilling note.

The arms of the Bailiwick of Guernsey which appear on the back of this one pound note from 1963 contain the three lions associated with the English monarch.

The State Emblem of India as shown on this Gulf rupee note depicts the Lion Capital of Ashoka. The original is in the museum at Sarnath and dates to 250 BCE.

The Lion of Judah was associated with the Emperors of Ethiopia. It is the central figure on the back of this E$100.00 note from the 1960s.

This final example is the newly released HK$50.00 note from the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. It depicts one of the two lion statues that sit outside the bank’s offices in Hong Kong. The HSBC offices in Shanghai and London have similar statues. The Hong Kong lions were installed in 1935. The Japanese confiscated them in WWII and brought them to Japan to be melted down. The war ended before this could happen and the statues were returned to Hong Kong. They still bear scars from the fighting in the city in 1941. One of them was recently set afire during protests in Hong Kong.

This type of topical collecting is an easy and inexpensive way to enjoy collecting banknotes. The variety of subjects depicted on notes is large and most can be acquired with little financial outlay.

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