Venezuela introduced the Bolívares Fuertes series in 2007 replacing the 2000 – 2006 bolivares series. The was used and added to through 2017. The entire series includes 13 denomination going from a 2 to a 100,000 Bolivar Fuertes. The amazingly high number of denominations was driven by hyperinflation that led to the very low denomination to have virtually no value. This series is interesting not only in the number of denominations, but in the orientation, the high denomination and the themes on the banknotes.
The Fuertes series is one of the most beautiful and colorful set of paper currency banknotes. All the banknotes have a portrait-style orientations on one side and landscape on the reverse and include vivid colors. The people shown on the banknotes include indigenous individuals, women and ‘average’ people- not just leaders. Simon Bolivar is present on multiple denominations, but not all of them. The reverse side also shows local birds, turtles, animals. The next unique characteristic is that the designs were reused within a series just with different colors. For example, the 20 fuertes shows on the front Luisa Caceres de Arismendi, a heroine of the Venezuelan War of Independence and hawksbill turtles on the reverse. The color is a light purple. By 2016, most of the lower denominations were not in circulation. The 5000 fuertes, issued in 2016 has the exact same design as the 20 but it is now in a light green. Another unique aspect is that the highest denomination is a 100,000 but only the 100 is shown as a number and the word ‘cien mil’ (hundred thousand) is under it. The printed number does not match the written number. The lower denominations such as the 20,000 (veinte mil) and 10,000 (diez mil) have matching words to the numbers. It is as if, the designer ran out of space for the extra 3 numbers.
It is sad for the Venezuelan people that they have had to live through hyperinflation. A silver lining for collectors is that we have this amazingly beautiful and unique set of banknotes.