It has had the best of designs, it has had the worst of designs….
My favorite banknote ever is the 1935 Princess Elizabeth $20. My least favorite? Every Canadian banknote from 1954 to 1988. There were some nice attempts during those 30 years, but generally the designs seemed to be a set of poorly integrated elements. The reverse designs were often a nice image but single colored. The front designs have several colors which was good but it they just never made a complete design concept. Even the choice of the Queen’s portrait was not complimentary.
Prior to the formation of the Canadian Central Bank, Canada had several regional banks which produced very interesting designs. In many cases there were two portraits, and in nearly every design the images were clean and crisp and complimentary of Canada and its culture. The entire 1935 series is hard to beat as a complete set, but Canada had the 1898 $1 Dominion of Canada and most of the Merchant Banks from the late 1800’s to the 1930’s had beautiful and well integrated designs.
Canada has been a recent leader in the design and printing of polymer Canadian banknotes. Its current series of polymer notes are beautiful and designed with some of the best security features. The recent English polymer notes seem to have copied the general concepts used in Canada.
The 2018 $10 Canadian banknote features Viola Desmond and is an award winning portrait-oriented polymer note printed by Canada. It integrates Canadian Maple Leaf images, windows, complex designs and the most advanced security features.
Has Canada’s recent designs made up for 30 years of questionable banknote designs and strange feeling paper substrate? My vote? Yes. Throw in the color printed Canadian Mint’s precious metal coins and Canada might be the best source of beautiful, collectable currency.