The Polymer Archive is the world’s most comprehensive, museum-quality archive of polymer bank notes and related material. The Polymer Archive contains the earliest test notes from the 1970s up to present-day, circulating legal tender polymer bank notes, an unparalleled record of almost fifty years of history of polymer bank notes. It would be impossible to assemble this archive ever again, as it contains material, including exceedingly rare and unique pieces, from several different and mutually competitive bank note printers, substrate manufacturers, security feature manufacturers and dozens of central banks around the world.
The Polymer Archive contains several thousands of pieces of polymer notes and includes examples of all issued polymer bank notes and related material, such as specimen notes, proof notes, low serial numbers, uncut sheets, printers’ test and promotional notes, early designs, unissued and trial notes, printing plates and more. The use of barter-like methods, where goods or services are directly exchanged for other goods or services, may date back to at least 100,000 years ago in human history.
The use of commodity money, such as sea shells, dates back to at least a few millennia. Coins and bank notes are relatively modern inventions, with the first coins appearing around 650-600 BCE in Lydia (present-day Turkey), and the first bank notes (jiaozi) appearing in the 10th century CE in Sichuan, China.
The basic concept behind a bank note, the promise of an issuing authority to pay the bearer of a piece of paper the amount shown on it, remains the same today. Over 1,000 years of history, however, have brought many changes and improvements to the design, production, security features and other characteristics of bank notes.
Polymer bank notes, with their unique properties and their hallmark security feature, the clear window, represent the pinnacle of development of bank notes. Polymer notes offer exciting possibilities for new advanced security features and bring significant cost savings to their issuing authority. There are many great numismatic and notaphilic collections owned by museums and private individuals, documenting the rich heritage and diversity of money and its role in human civilizations.
The Polymer Archive aims to be the world's finest collection of polymer bank notes and related material, preserving and documenting a fascinating technology that people around the world use in their daily economic transactions. The Polymer Archive is very much a “living” entity, with new items being added frequently. Some interesting pieces from The Polymer Archive are presented here.