In 2001 KIKPE acquired a collection of Greek paper money/banknotes spanning the period from 1822, the beginnings of the founding of the Greek State, until the replacement of the drachma by the euro on 1 January 2001. This collection is on loan for use (commodatum agreement) to the National Bank of Greece, which has an analogous collection. Considered together, they constitute one of the fullest and most important international collection of Greek paper money/banknotes. The holdings are enriched systematically by filling in the gaps of the various issues and with technical evidence for the corpus of issues by the five banks that had been granted the issuing right in Greece (National Bank of Greece, Ionian Bank, Bank of Epirus-Thessaly, Bank of Crete and Bank of Greece). The material as a whole constitutes a rich historical and artistic panorama of the economic development of Modern Greece.
This is the only collection in possession of the prototype banknotes, which following approval by the Bank of Greece, were printed abroad. The first two issues were printed in Fance with the help of the Bank of France, while the third issue was printed in London by the Theodore Saunders Company. Imprinted on the specimens are the security marks – and through these alone can an idea be formed of what these primary documents of economic transactions actually were. The collection also includes the bonds of the Provisional Administration during the 1821 War of Independence, as well as the Phoenixes of the period of Capodistria’s governance.
In February 2006, the collaboration of KIKPE and the National Bank culminated in an exhibition titled ‘The Greek Banknote 1822-2002’ held in the Historical Archive of the National Bank of Greece. The exhibition was designed to enhance through paper money the major economic and political events in the history of Modern Greece. It attracted considerable public interest and was the nucleus for the creation, from 2005, of systematic educational programmes aimed at familiarizing schoolchildren of all grades and students with research into primary sources.
The Collection of Banknotes of the Welfare Foundation for Social and Cultural Affairs (KIKPE) was formed with the aim of contributing to:
- The repatriation of documents of historical importance and collector value auctioned in markets abroad.
- The social, economic and political depiction of the course of the Greek State and the preservation of memory with regard to the national currency.
- The accessibility of the collection to both specialists and the general public.
- The promotion of research programmes that are materialized through exhibitions, conferences and publications.