If you are interested in Numismatics, then this is the best time for you to embark on a British Museum guided tour, as the museum is planning to marks the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution by staging an exhibition on the different communist currencies. There are many banknotes that display enthusiastic soldiers, cheerful farmers, committed intellectuals, factories, foundries, lorries, dams, fields, guns, and railways.
There will be medals, posters, coins, bonds, and banknotes that display important industrial developments, agricultural productivity, and military prowess. “I think they are beautiful,” said the curator, Tom Hockenhull. “Especially compared to western notes of the same period, these are far nicer, far prettier.”
“Even though the currencies were devalued and people were told they weren’t worth anything, the banknotes, in particular, carry some of the most glorious designs that have ever been committed to paper,” he added. Hockenhull has been studying and acquiring communist currencies that can be used to fill the gap in the extensive collections of money in the British Museum.
Experts said that the notes on display will include a 1975 100 shilling note from the country of Somalia. The note shows what is expected from women and features the picture of a woman holding a shovel, a gun, and a baby. “It is saying to women you can do whatever you want, you can take on all these different roles, but you’ve still got to do all this,” said Hockenhull.
The exhibition will also feature a Yugoslavian banknote that features the handsome, smiling face of a hardworking foundry worker, Arif Heralić. He was the part of a group of workers who were photographed at their furnace workplace in 1954. Heralić’s face stood out in the group and was used on the Yugoslavian banknotes for many decades.
Another note on exhibition is a 1980 50 Yuan from China, which shows people leading the development of the country. It shows an industrial worker, a farmhand, and an intellectual. This exhibition is aimed to explore how money worked under communism. “Under communism, under Marxist theory, there should be no money,” said Hockenhull. “It is a social construct, it should not exist. But it is never abolished… no state ever successfully eliminated it.”
Marxist would not wish for a state with money, but communist countries had these notes and their notes were far interesting than that of the western countries. “It tends to follow – not always – that the most stable economies have the most boring notes, it is just the way it is,” said Hockenhull.