Georgia, the country existed long before Georgia the state. While the state was named for England’s King George II, the country of Georgia was named by an Italian cartographer – Pietro Vesconte who called the area “jiorgia”, eventually changed to Georgia. Some believe the name was given because of the affection the local people have for St. George. Georgia is also known as the possible origin of wine. It is located on the eastern shore of the Black Sea. Also, it shares the land bridge between Russia and the Middle East with Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Early History of Georgia
Georgia’s currency history is brief. For example, in the distant past, it has been dominated by the Mongols, the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire. After the Russian revolution in 1917, Georgia became independent under the protection of Germany. The new Georgian government issued its first series of banknotes. They are very basic but it didn’t matter much because the Soviet Union invaded the country in 1922 and integrated it into their Empire.
Georgia and Poland appeared to be the nations that pushed hardest for independence from Soviet Union dominance in the 1980s. Eventually, it seceded from the Soviet Union in 1991. While other former Soviet satellites separated easier, Russia was did not give up the country as easily. There was even a bloodless revolution where some regions of Georgia were invaded and annexed by Russia. This was under the guise of protecting local Russians who were in Georgia. This sounded a lot like German’s 1930’s rationale to annex the Sudetenland and Austria. While this land is still in dispute, Georgia has remained relatively peaceful and prosperous over the last 10 or 15 years.
Georgia replaced the Russian ruble with the Georgian kuponi in 1993, but like many post-Soviet countries they suffered from hyperinflation after independence. Four series of kuponi were issued between 1993 and 1995 with denominations up to 1 million kuponi. Late in 1995, Georgia introduced the Lari as their new currency. The new 1 Lari (P-61) was typical of ex-Soviet designs. There is a portrait of Niko Pirosmanashvili – a famous Georgia write on the front and images of flora and fauna on the reverse side. This note does have a prominent image focused on grape vines. The 2 Lari has musical notes on the front along with a portrait of composer Zacharia Paliashvili. The banknotes are basically the same until 2016 when a new series begins to circulate.
The 2016 series is a product of Polish Security Printer – PWPW. PWPW has a good reputation because of their nice designs, integration of holographics and high quality paper. 5 Denominations were issued – 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 Lari. All of them include demetallized holographic stripes that include portraits that match the intaglio on the banknotes. Also, the notes have strong designs and themes that show off the country’s history and culture. The 50 Lari (P-79) is especially interesting. It has a portrait of 13th century Georgian Queen Tamar in a deep green color. There are also images of the Vardzia cave monastery and the Pitareti Monastery. The reverse has a drawing of Sagittarius and text from an ancient manuscript.
As a complete series, it gives a collector a good view of Georgian culture.