The Republic of Peru was home to several ancient cultures, most notably the Inca Empire that is one of the five cradles of civilization and the largest state in pre-Columbian Americas. The Spanish Empire conquered Peru in the 16th century and established a viceroyalty that included most of Spain’s South American territories. Lima was the capital of the viceroyalty and is also currently the capital of Peru. After the Battle of Ayacucho, Peru gained full independence from Spain in 1824.
Junta Administradora (Administrative Board)
The Junta Administradora is founded in Lima on 27 January 1879. The administrative board issued sol banknotes, which replaced the Bolivian peso and the Peruvian real in 1863. During the War of the Pacific (also known as the Saltpeter War), Arequipa, the second largest city in Peru, became the de facto capital after Lima was occupied by the Chilean army.
Early Peru sol notes had pictures of allegorical women in front and bank guilloches at the back. They did not have security threads nor watermarks.
The Inca replaces the Sol from 23 March 1880 to 1882. The Inca only comes in banknote form. One Inca was equivalent to 10 reales de Inca. The Inca also has a a rate of 1 Inca to 10 soles.
Junta de Vigilancia (Supervisory Board)
The libra (pound) was established in 10 January 1898 and used as the currency in Peru. One libra was equivalent to 10 soles. On 14 December 1901, Peru adopted the gold standard. Before World War I broke out, Peru only circulated gold, silver, and copper coins. To address the coin shortage brought about by hoarding, cheque circulares were issued. These cheques were denominated in libra peruana de oro (Peruvian gold pound) equivalent to the British sovereign.
The Junta de Vigilancia was a commission of appointed bankers and businessmen. This commission was in charge of administering “cheque circulars”, a new system that functioned as banknotes secured by gold reserves from different banks.
Banco de Reserva del Peru (Reserve Bank of Peru)
The Junta de Vigilancia was abolished in 1922. The Banco de Reserva del Peru took over the junta’s functions. The bank also gained exclusive rights to issue notes in Peru. The reserve bank replaced the cheques circulares with libra peruana de oro notes.
These libra peruana de oro notes feature allegorical women in front and bank guilloches and economic activities at the back.
Banco Central de Reserva del Peru
The Banco de Reserva del Peru became the Banco Central de Reserva de Peru in 1931. The Banco Central de Reserva reintroduced the sol de oro by placing overprints of the new bank name and denomination on libras peruana de oro notes. It eventually designed and issued its own sol de oro notes in 1933. Aside from the 50 cenntavo note which was printed locally, the sol de oro notes were printed by the American Bank Note Company.
The bank switched printers many times, but in the 1968-1977 sol de oro issues, the notes were all printed by Thomas De La Rue. These notes, unlike preceding note families, featured Peruvian heroes and landmarks instead of allegorical women and guilloches.
On 1 February 1985, the sol was replaced by the inti at a rate of 1 inti to 1,000 soles. The inti takes its name from Inti, the Incan sun god. The change in currency was an attempt to address hyperinflation in the country. However, larger denominations are then gradually begin to circulate.
Inflation Reflected On Banknotes
The largest Peru inti denomination was the 5 million intis. The 5 million intis notes have two different printers. The slight difference between the two was the blank watermark areas on both sides of the note. The 5 million inti note featured Antonio Raimondi, a prominent Italian-born Peruvian geographer and scientist, on the front side. Raimondi became one of the founding professors of the medical school and the founder of the analytical chemistry department in the National University of San Marcos. The obverse side also contained Spanish text, plants, and the Peruvian coat of arms. Meanwhile, the reverse side of the note depicted a scene from Raimondi’s life: a native man giving water to Raimondi amid cacti. The reverse side also feature carvings and ancient ruins. The note has a solid security thread, a watermark of Antonio Raimondi, and measurements of 140 mm by 65 mm.
The nuevo sol replaces the former Inti on 1 July 1991 at a rate of 1 nuevo sol to 1 million intis. It now bears the name “sol” in December 2015 to streamline economic transactions and adapt to economic realities. The nuevo sol and sol notes had similar designs. Their obverse sides feature Peruvian heroes and notable figures. Their reverse side feature landmarks in Peru. The sol notes, however, have enhanced security features.