Chapter III
Banknotes
Page 3
Bank of Israel Lira series
1955 - 1975

 

Series I of the Lira
Landscapes
1955
1 Lira = 1000 Pruta

The Bank of Israel, Israel's State bank, was established on 1st December 1954, over 6½ years after independence. From that moment onward, the authorization to print and issue money was transfered from Bank Leumi Le-Israel B.M. to the newly formed Bank of Israel. A new series of banknotes was prepared within the authority vested in the Bank by the Bank of Israel Law.

Typical Israeli landscapes were chosen as the motif, and commissioned graphic artists from Thomas de la Rue and Co. of London to design the notes. Abstract patterns were printed on the back of the notes. Four notes were gradually put into circulation in from 1955 through 1957. However, due to extreme unpopularity with the public, who especially disliked the "psychedelic" design of the reverse guilloches, but which also had no nice words to say about the "Soviet picture-postcard" designs on the obverse, this first series of Banknotes was soon to be replaced with a new series.

 

500 Pruta
Obverse:  ruins of ancient synagogue at Bir'am, Galilee
Reverse:  guilloches
Dominant color:  red
Dimensions:  130 x 72 mm
Signatures:  David Horowitz, Governor Bank of Israel; Eliezer (Siegfried) Hoofien, Chairman Advisory Council
Printers:  Thomas de la Rue, London

Cat.
#

Date

Varieties

Value USD

Heb.

Civil

VG

F

VF

XF

AU

Unc.

24aZ

5715

1955

black serial numbers; issued 4 August 1955

210.00

014.00

020.00

335.00

060.00

100.00

Image on 500 Pruta (Bank of Israel series I) banknote:

Ruins of ancient synagogue at Bir'am, Galilee

The 500 Pruta banknote shows on its obverse the ruins of the ancient synagogue at Bir'am (Bar'am) in Upper Galilee. The synagogue, probably dating from the 3rd century AD, is preserved up to the second story and has been restored. The architecture of the synagogue is similar to that of other synagogues in the Galilee built in the Talmudic period. In 1522, Rabbi Moses Basula wrote that the synagogue belonged to Simeon bar Yochai, who survived the Second Jewish War in 132-135 AD (the Bar Kochba revolt), but archeologists have concluded that the building was built at least a century later. The synagogue is made of basalt stone, standard for most buildings in the area. The six-column portico is unusual. The front entrance of the synagogue has three doorways facing Jerusalem. In front of the entrance are some of the (originally eight) columns with Attic bases which supported a porch. There is an inscription under the right window on the facade, which reads: "Banahu Elazar bar Yodan", which means "Elazar bar Yodan built it". Elazar bar Yodan is a Jewish Aramaic name. The interior of the synagogue was divided by rows of columns into three aisles and an ambulatory. According to tradition the prophet Obadiah and Esther, wife of Persian King Xerxes (Ahashverosh), were buried at Kfar Bar'am. On Purim, Megillat Esther (Book of Esther) was read at her grave.
On the obverse of the banknote, right of the image of the Bir'am synagogue, is a picture of a flowering cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum).
The design of the banknote's reverse is dominated by guilloches, designed as an abstract figure.

 

1 Lira
Obverse:  view of Upper Galilee and Jordan River
Reverse: guilloches
Dominant color:  blue
Dimensions:  135 x 74 mm
Signatures:  David Horowitz, Governor Bank of Israel; Eliezer (Siegfried) Hoofien, Chairman Advisory Council
Printers:  Thomas de la Rue, London

Cat.
#

Date

Varieties

Value USD

Heb.

Civil

VG

F

VF

XF

AU

Unc.

25a

5715

1955

black serial numbers; issued 27 October 1955

8.00

11.00

18.00

28.00

45.00

80.00

Image on 1 Lira (Bank of Israel series I) banknote:

The Jordan river in Upper Galilee with Sde Nehemia in the background

The Jordan River in Upper Galilee is the main subject on the obverse of the 1 Lira (Bank of Israel series I) banknote. The settlement on the left is Kibbutz Sde Nehemia. The area around the upper reaches of the Jordan have been settled since Biblical times, when it first belonged to the Tribes of Asher and Menashe, and at a later stage to the Tribe of Dan. Since the First Aliya during the 1880s, many new Jewish agricultural settlements were established, utilizing the benefits of an abundant supply of Jordan River water and a near-tropical climate.

On the banknote's obverse, next to the Upper Galilee landscape, a blossoming anemone (Anemone coronaria) is pictured.

The reverse shows stylized guilloches.

 

5 Lirot
Obverse:  Negev desert landscape
Reverse:  guilloches
Dominant color:  brown  
Dimensions:  140 x 78 mm
Signatures:  David Horowitz, Governor Bank of Israel; Eliezer (Siegfried) Hoofien, Chairman Advisory Council
Printers:  Thomas de la Rue, London

Cat.
#

Date

Varieties

Value USD

Heb.

Civil

VG

F

VF

XF

AU

Unc.

26a

5715

1955

black serial numbers issued 27 October 1955

12.00

18.00

30.00

60.00

100.00

200.00

Image on 5 Lirot (Bank of Israel series I) banknote:

Negev desert landscape with agricultural equipment in foreground

The obverse of the 5 Lirot (Bank of Israel series I) banknote depicts agricultural activity and a settlement in the Negev. The Negev covers more than half of Israel, some 13,000 km² (4,700 sq mi) or at least 55% of the country's land area. It forms an inverted triangle shape whose western side is contiguous with the desert of the Sinai Peninsula, and whose eastern border is the Arava rift valley. The Negev is primarily a rocky desert. It is a mixture of brown, rocky, dusty mountains interrupted by wadis (dry riverbeds that bloom briefly after rain) and deep craters. The area actually was once the floor of a primordial sea, and a sprinkling of marine snail shells still covers the earth. The whole Negev region is arid, receiving very little rain due to its location to the east of the Sahara, and extreme temperature ranges between summer and winter, and day and night. The yearly average of rainfall ranges from 250 mm in Beer Sheva in the northern Negev to 25 mm in Eilat on the Red Sea. Despite its aridity, successful agricultural activity flourishes in several Arava valley settlements, utilizing modern water-saving techniques. The Negev is also home to some geological wonders and has several nature reserves.

For the design of the banknote's obverse the artist used a photograph on which he superimposed an image of the Edom Mountains which border the Negev to the east. Right of the landscape are irises, probably the Iris germanica species.

The reverse is dominated by abstract guilloches.

 

10 Lirot
Obverse:  Jezreel Valley
Reverse:  guilloches
Dominant color:  green
Dimensions:  150 x 82 mm
Signatures:  David Horowitz, Governor Bank of Israel; Eliezer (Siegfried) Hoofien, Chairman Advisory Council
Printers:  Thomas de la Rue, London


Cat. # 27a
black serial numbers on obverse

Cat. # 27b
red serial numbers on obverse


Common reverse

Cat.
#

Date

Varieties

Value USD

Heb.

Civil

VG

F

VF

XF

AU

Unc.

27a

5715

1955

black serial numbers; issued 4 August 1955

7.00

9.00

12.00

18.00

30.00

50.00

27b

red serial numbers; issued June 1958

10.00

12.00

18.00

28.00

45.00

80.00

Image on 10 Lirot (Bank of Israel series I) banknote:

Kfar Yehezkel in the Jezreel Valley (obverse)

The obverse of the 10 Lirot (Bank of Israel series I) banknote is dedicated to the Jezreel Valley. Fertile soil and a favorable year-round climate make the Jezreel Valley extremely suitable for a variety of agricultural activities. From whatever vantage point one looks - Mount Carmel, the Lower Galilee near Nazareth, or the Samaria mountain range - the entire Jezreel Valley landscape unfolding below is dominated by large cultivated fields, lined with cypress trees. The village depicted on the banknote is Kfar Yehezkel, a cooperative settlement founded in 1921, between Afula and Beit Shean.

Next to the Jezreel Valley landscape on the banknote's obverse is s a rendition of tulips (Tulipa).

The reverse is abstractly designed.

 

50 Lirot
Obverse:  road to Jerusalem
Reverse:  guilloches
Dominant color:  blue
Dimensions:  160 x 86 mm
Signatures:  David Horowitz, Governor Bank of Israel; Eliezer (Siegfried) Hoofien, Chairman Advisory Council
Printers:  Thomas de la Rue, London

Cat.
#

Date

Varieties

Value USD

Heb.

Civil

VG

F

VF

XF

AU

Unc.

28a

5715

1955

black serial numbers; issued 19 September 1957

60.00

70.00

90.00

120.00

180.00

300.00

28b

red serial numbers; issued May 1960

80.00

100.00

120.00

150.00

220.00

400.00

Image on 50 Lirot (Bank of Israel series I) banknote:

View along the road to Jerusalem from Sha'ar HaGai, 1953  (obverse)

The 50 Lirot (Bank of Israel series I) banknote shows on its obverse the road to Jerusalem at Sha'ar HaGai. a point on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway, 23 km from Jerusalem, where the road begins to ascend steeply into a gorge between cliffs. During the 1948 War of Independence, this area saw fierce fighting between Arab forces and Jewish convoys on the way to blockaded Jerusalem. To this day, rusted armored cars that were destroyed during the 1948 war line the route to commemorate the war. For the design of the banknote the artist used a photograph made in 1953, when Highway No. 1 (as it is called today) was still nothing more than a twisting country lane. 

Right of the image on the banknote's obverse is an oleander (Nerium oleander).

Abstractly designed guilloches are prevalent on the reverse.

 

Series II of the Lira
Walks of Life
1958 - 1960
1 Lira = 100 Agorot

The abstract patterns on the reverse of the first series, as well as their "Soviet postcard" obverse design, did not meet with public approval. When criticism mounted, a new series was prepared, illustrating different walks of Israeli life as the obverse motif and archaeological subjects as the reverse motif. The shape and size of the notes differed from those of the previous series, and the basic sketches were the work of Israeli artists. The series was put into circulation in 1959-60, and gradually replaced the previous series.

 

1/2 Lira
Obverse:  woman soldier
Reverse:  tomb of the Sanhedrin, Jerusalem
Dominant color:  green
Dimensions:  130 x 72 mm
Signatures:  David Horowitz, Governor Bank of Israel; Yitzhak Nebenzahl, Chairman Advisory Council
Printers (unverified):  Royal Joh. Enschedé, Haarlem/Netherlands

Cat.
#

Date

Varieties

Value USD

Heb.

Civil

VG

F

VF

XF

AU

Unc.

29

5718

1958

black serial numbers; issued 15 October 1959

0.70

0.80

1.00

1.50

2.50

5.50

Images on 1/2 Lira (Bank of Israel series II) banknote:

Top: three young women who modeled for this banknote (obverse)
Bottom: tombs of the Sanhedrin, Jerusalem (reverse)

The obverse of the 1/2 Lira (Bank of Israel series II) banknote shows a woman soldier holding a basket of oranges against a background of verdant fields. At least five women - not all on active military service at that time - posed for the photograph that would be used by the designers. When the banknote was released, each claimed that she is the one depicted on the banknote. However, in fact the figure that appears on the 1/2 Lira note is a composite of several photographs of several women. A close look at both the left and right images reveals that there is a distinct likeness between the head of the figure of the banknote and that of the woman in the left photograph. The posture of the body and the way the figure on the banknote holds the basket strongly resemble that of the woman in the right photograph.

The banknote's reverse depicts the Tomb of the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, a Jewish burial cave from the late Second Temple period (1st century AD). According to Jewish tradition, members of the Great Sanhedrin, then the highest institute of Jewish law, were buried here.

 

1 Lira
Obverse:  fisherman
Reverse:  floor mosaic from ancient synagogue in Isfiya on Mount Carmel
Dominant color:  blue
Dimensions:  135 x 75 mm
Signatures:  David Horowitz, Governor Bank of Israel; Yitzhak Nebenzahl, Chairman Advisory Council
Printers (unverified):  Royal Joh. Enschedé, Haarlem/Netherlands


Common obverse


Cat. # 30a
black serial numbers on reverse


Cat. # 30b
red serial numbers on reverse


Cat. # 30c
brown serial numbers on reverse

Cat.
#

Date

Varieties

Value USD

Heb.

Civil

VG

F

VF

XF

AU

Unc.

30a

5718

1958

black serial numbers;; issued 15 October 1959

0.50

0.60

0.80

1.20

2.00

4.00

30b

red serial numbers; issued June 1964

0.50

0.60

0.80

1.20

2.00

4.00

30c

brown serial numbers; issued 1966

0.40

0.50

0.70

1.00

1.50

2.50

Images on 1 Lira (Bank of Israel series II) banknote:

Top:  three photographs of the same man who modeled for this banknote (obverse)
Bottom: incomplete floor mosaic found in Isfiya, Mount Carmel, in 1930 (reverse)

A fisherman carrying his gear is the subject of the 1 Lira (Bank of Israel series II) banknote. In contrast to the 1/2 Lira banknote of the same series, the designers sufficed with several photographs of the same person. Apparently they chose the middle image, turned some 30º to the left, as the basis for the figure that appears on the banknote. The photo session was held in Michmoret on the Mediterranean coast (not in Eilat as commonly believed). The only places where mountains (almost) reach the shore in Israel are Haifa (Cape Carmel), to the south of Eilat, at several spots around the Sea of Galilee, and at Rosh Hanikra in the far north. The small fishing boats in the foreground would fit well into a Sea of Galilee scene, but the ocean-going passenger vessel in the background dispels that possibility. Haifa is out of contention too, as the area around Cape Carmel was already heavily urbanized in the 1950s when the banknote was designed. It is therefore understood that the designers had no specific geographical location in mind when drawing the background for the obverse of the 1 Lira banknote.

The exact location of the image on the reverse is well known, though. In 1930, by sheer chance, a small fragment of an ancient mosaic floor was discovered in a street in the village of Isfiya on Mount Carmel. In 1933 further excavations were conducted, exposing more of the same mosaic, which turned out to be part of the floor of a synagogue built in the 6th century AD. The designers of the banknote completed the image, which reads "Shalom al Yisrael" (Peace to Israel).

 

5 Lirot
Obverse:  laborer
Reverse:  "Roaring Lion" Seal of Shema, servant of King Jeroboam II (8th century BC)
Dominant color:  brown
Dimensions:  140 x 78 mm
Signatures:  David Horowitz, Governor Bank of Israel; Yitzhak Nebenzahl, Chairman Advisory Council
Printers (unverified):  Thomas de la Rue, London

Cat.
#

Date

Varieties

Value USD

Heb.

Civil

VG

F

VF

XF

AU

Unc.

31

5718

1958

black serial numbers; issued 15 October 1959

0.60

0.70

1.00

1.50

2.50

5.00

Images on 5 Lirot (Bank of Israel series II) banknote:

Top: three men whose images formed the basis of the subject of this banknote (obverse)
Bottom: the famous "Shema" seal from Megiddo, unearthed in 1903  (obverse)

For the obverse of the 5 Lirot (Bank of Israel series II) banknote, the figure of a laborer holding a sledgehammer with industrial structures in the background was chosen as the main subject. Several men were photographed. Three pictures were combined to create the figure on the banknote.

The origin and whereabouts of the the seal depicted on the banknote's reverse remain one of the greatest mysteries of Holy Land archaeology since 1903, when it was discovered at Megiddo by Gottlieb Schumacher, a German railway engineer (the Dera'a to Haifa branch line of the Hejaz railway was built under his management) cum archaeologist, born in a Templar community in Haifa. The seal shows in great detail the King of Beasts, and is inscribed with the words "Shema Servant of Jeroboam". As two kings with the same name, Jeroboam I and Jeroboam II, ruled the northern Kingdom of Israel, it is believed that Shema was a high official of King Jeroboam II (8th Century BC). Shortly after its discovery, Schumacher presented the seal as a gift to the Ottoman sultan Abdul Hamid II. Since then the "Seal of Shema" has mysteriously vanished, never to be seen again. A plaster copy was made prior to its handover to the sultan, preserving this beautiful piece of Biblical history for posterity.

 

10 Lirot
Obverse:  scientist
Reverse:  Dead Sea Scrolls, Israel Museum
Dominant color:  purple
Dimensions:  150 x 82 mm
Signatures:  David Horowitz, Governor Bank of Israel; Yitzhak Nebenzahl, Chairman Advisory Council
Printers (unverified):  Thomas de la Rue, London


Common obverse


Cat. # 32a
black serial numbers on reverse


Cat. # 32b
red serial numbers on reverse


Cat. # 32c
blue serial numbers on reverse


Cat. # 32d
brown serial numbers on reverse

Cat.
#

Date

Varieties

Value USD

Heb.

Civil

VG

F

VF

XF

AU

Unc.

32a

5718

1958

black serial numbers; issued 15 October 1959

1.00

1.20

1.80

3.50

6.00

12.00

32b

red serial numbers; issued January 1967

1.50

1.80

2.50

4.50

8.00

22.00

32c

blue serial numbers; issued April 1967

1.80

2.20

3.00

5.50

10.00

25.00

32d

brown serial numbers; issued September 1969

0.80

1.00

1.30

2.20

4.00

8.00

Images on 10 Lirot (Bank of Israel series II) banknote:

From left to right:
The unidentified model photographed for the design of this banknote (obverse)
The jars in which the Dead Sea Scrolls were housed, Israel Museum, Jerusalem (obverse)
Section of a Dead Sea Scroll from Qumran near the Dead Sea, on display in the Shrine of the Book, Israel Museum (reverse)

The obverse of the 10 Lirot (Bank of Israel series II) banknote shows a figure of a scientist at work in a well-equipped laboratory. In real life, one single gentleman posed for the photograph that formed the basis for the figure on the banknote, not in a lab, but against a dark sheet or blanket in the background.

The banknote's reverse shows a segment of one of the Dead Sea Scrolls found in eleven caves at Qumran on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea between 1947 and 1979, and now housed in the Shrine of the Book on the campus of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The Dead Sea Scrolls are handwritten and date from a period between the 3rd century BC and 68 AD. The fragment depicted here is a segment from the Book of Isaiah, dating back to the 1st century BC. Also pictured are two jars in which the Dead Sea Scrolls were typically stored and preserved during two millennia.

 

50 Lirot
Obverse:  boy and girl pioneers
Reverse:  candelabrum from ancient synagogue at Maon-Nirim in the Negev
Dominant color:  brown
Dimensions:  178 x 93 mm
Signatures:  David Horowitz, Governor Bank of Israel; Yitzhak Nebenzahl, Chairman Advisory Council
Printers (unverified):  Royal Joh. Enschedé, Haarlem/Netherlands


Common obverse


Cat. # 33a
black serial numbers on reverse


Cat. # 33b
red serial numbers on reverse


Cat. # 33c
blue serial numbers on reverse


Cat. # 33d
green serial numbers on reverse


Cat. # 33e
brown serial numbers on reverse

Cat.
#

Date

Varieties

Value USD

Heb.

Civil

VG

F

VF

XF

AU

Unc.

33a

5720

1960

black serial numbers; issued 9 December 1960

3.50

4.50

8.00

12.00

20.00

40.00

33b

red serial numbers; issued February 1965

5.00

6.50

10.00

17.00

30.00

60.00

33c

blue serial numbers; issued December 1966

3.00

3.50

5.50

10.00

17.00

35.00

33d

green serial numbers; issued May 1967

2.50

3.00

5.00

7.50

13.00

25.00

33e

brown serial numbers; issued September 1969

2.50

3.00

5.00

7.50

13.00

25.00

Images on 50 Lirot (Bank of Israel series II) banknote:
 
Left: the two young persons who modeled for the design of this banknote (obverse)
Right: Part of synagogue floor mosaic in Maon near Kibbutz Nirimn, discovered in 1957 (reverse)

Pioneer youths are the subject of the obverse of the 50 Lirot (Bank of Israel series II) banknote. The two young people chosen were friends of an employee of Shamir Bros., designers of the banknote, and their likenesses grace the obverse, against the background of an agricultural settlement in the Negev.

The reverse shows a mosaic from the 6th century AD, part of a synagogue floor at Maon near Kibbutz Nirim in the Besor region, north of the Negev. The mosaic was discovered in 1957, during road construction works, and includes a Menorah (seven-branched candelabrum).

 

Series III of the Lira
Jewish and Israeli Personalities
1968

In the mid-1960s the ½ Lira and 1 Lira banknotes of Series II had been replaced by coins, and soon thereafter the need arose for a higher-denomination note of 100 Lirot. Therefore, a new series featuring portraits of prominent personalities in the history of the Jewish people, was introduced as from early 1969, Series II of the Lira.

 

5 Lirot
Obverse:  Albert Einstein
Reverse:  nuclear reactor at Nahal Soreq
Dominant color:  green
Dimensions:  150 x 75 mm
Signatures:  David Horowitz, Governor Bank of Israel; Yehuda Chorin, Chairman Advisory Council
Printers (unverified):  Royal Joh. Enschedé, Haarlem/Netherlands


Common obverse


Cat. # 34a
black serial numbers on reverse


Cat. # 34b
red serial numbers on reverse

Cat.
#

Date

Varieties

Value USD

Heb.

Civil

VG

F

VF

XF

AU

Unc.

34a

5728

1968

black serial numbers; issued 13 January 1972

0.70

0.80

1.20

2.00

3.50

8.00

34b

red serial numbers; issued March 1974

0.70

0.80

1.00

1.50

2.50

7.00

Images on 5 Lirot (Bank of Israel series III) banknote:

Left: Albert Einstein (obverse)
Right: The nuclear research reactor at Nahal Soreq, 1960 (reverse)

On the obverse of the 5 Lirot (Bank of Israel series III) banknote appears Albert Einstein (1879-1955), the German-born theoretical physicist, universally recognized as one of the greatest scientists of all time. He is best known for his theory of relativity and specifically mass-energy equivalence, E = mc2. Einstein received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect." Einstein's many contributions to physics include his special theory of relativity, which reconciled mechanics with electromagnetism, and his general theory of relativity, which extended the principle of relativity to non-uniform motion, creating a new theory of gravitation. His other contributions include relativistic cosmology, capillary action, critical opalescence, classical problems of statistical mechanics and their application to quantum theory, an explanation of the Brownian movement of molecules, atomic transition probabilities, the quantum theory of a monatomic gas, thermal properties of light with low radiation density (which laid the foundation for the photon theory), a theory of radiation including stimulated emission, the conception of a unified field theory, and the geometrization of physics. Time Magazine named him "Person of the 20th Century" in 1999. Einstein was a Zionist and served on the Board of Governors of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In his will, Einstein bequeathed literary rights to his writings, as well as the royalties from use of his image, to the Hebrew University, where many of his original documents are held in the Albert Einstein Archives. In 1952, after the death of Chaim Weizmann, Israel's first president, Einstein was asked to be the nation's second president, an offer he declined.

Albert Einstein's contributions to nuclear science are reflected on the banknote's reverse, which depicts the nuclear research reactor at Nahal Soreq.

 

10 Lirot
Obverse:  Chaim Nachman Bialik
Reverse:  Bialik House, Tel Aviv
Dominant color:  yellow-ivory
Dimensions:  160 x 80 mm
Signatures:  David Horowitz, Governor Bank of Israel; Yehuda Chorin, Chairman Advisory Council
Printers (unverified):  Royal Joh. Enschedé, Haarlem/Netherlands


Common obverse


Cat. # 35a
black serial numbers on reverse


Cat. # 35b
green serial numbers on reverse


Cat. # 35c
blue serial numbers on reverse

Cat.
#

Date

Varieties

Value USD

Heb.

Civil

VG

F

VF

XF

AU

Unc.

35a

5728

1968

black serial numbers; issued 6 August 1970

0.80

0.90

1.10

1.60

2.50

5.00

35b

green serial numbers; issued 6 August 1970

0.80

0.90

1.10

1.60

2.50

5.00

35c

blue serial numbers; issued March 1971

0.80

0.90

1.10

1.60

2.50

5.00

Images on 10 Lirot (Bank of Israel series III)  banknote:

Top left: Chaim Nachman Bialik (obverse)
Top middle: Bialik House in Tel Aviv, on an early 1940s photograph (obverse)
Top right: Bialik House today (reverse)
Bottom: First passage from "To a Bird", Bialik's first and most famous poem

The 10 Lirot (Bank of Israel series III) depicts on its obverse Chaim Nachman Bialik (1873-1934), one of the pioneers of modern Hebrew poetry and recognized as Israel's national poet. Born and educated in the Ukraine, he published his first Hebrew poem, "El Hatzipor" (To the Bird) in 1892, expresing his longing for Zion. The next two decades are considered Bialik's "golden period", when he attained literary fame. During that period Bialik wrote his epic poem "City of Slaughter", a powerful statement of anguish at the situation of the Jews after the Kishinev pogroms of 1903. In the early 1900s  he co-founded a Hebrew publishing house, Moriah, in Odessa, which issued Hebrew classics and school literature. He translated into Hebrew various European works, such as Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Schiller's Wilhelm Tell, Cervantes' Don Quixote, and Heine's poems; and from Yiddish S. Ansky's The Dybbuk. He published Sefer Ha Aggadah (1908-1911, The Book of Legends), a three-volume edition of the folk tales and proverbs scattered throughout the Talmud, selecting hundreds of texts and arranging them thematically. The Book of Legends was immediately recognized as a masterwork and has been reprinted numerous times. Bialik also edited the poems of the medieval poet and philosopher Ibn Gabirol and began a modern commentary on the Mishna, the oral law. He additionally added several commentaries on the Talmud. After closure of the Moriah publishing house by the Soviet authorities in 1923, Bialik moved to Berlin, where together with several friends he founded the Dvir publishing house. In 1924 he relocated with his publishing house to Tel Aviv, devoting himself to cultural activities and public affairs. Bialik was immediately recognized as a celebrated literary figure. He delivered the address that marked the opening of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and was a member of its Board of Governors, and in 1927 he became head of the Hebrew Writers Union, a position he retained for the remainder of his life. In 1933 his 60th birthday was celebrated with festivities by the entire Jewish community of Palestine, and all the schoolchildren of Tel Aviv were taken to meet him and pay their respects. After his death in 1934, the street on which he lived was renamed Bialik Street, and his house at No. 22 is now a beautifully restored museum. By writing his works in Hebrew, Bialik contributed significantly to the revival of the Hebrew language, which before his days existed primarily as an ancient, scholarly and religious tongue. His influence is felt deeply in all modern Hebrew literature. Bialik's poems have been translated into at least 30 languages, and set to music as popular songs. These poems, and the songs based on them, have become an essential part of the education and culture of modern Israel.

The banknote's reverse shows Chaim Nachman Bialik's house in Tel Aviv.

 

50 Lirot
Obverse:  Chaim Weizmann
Reverse:  Knesset building in Jerusalem
Dominant color:  brown-red
Dimensions:  170 x 85 mm
Signatures:  David Horowitz, Governor Bank of Israel; Yehuda Chorin, Chairman Advisory Council
Printers (unverified):  Royal Joh. Enschedé, Haarlem/Netherlands


Common obverse


Cat. # 36a
black serial numbers on reverse


Cat. # 36b
blue serial numbers on reverse

Cat.
#

Date

Varieties

Value USD

Heb.

Civil

VG

F

VF

XF

AU

Unc.

36a

5728

1968

black serial numbers; issued 13 January 1972

0.80

1.00

1.50

2.50

4.00

8.00

36b

blue serial numbers; issued October 1976

0.80

1.00

1.50

2.50

4.00

8.00

Images on 50 Lirot (Bank of Israel series III) banknote:

Left: Chaim Weizmann (obverse)
Right: Knesset building as it looks today (reverse)

The 50 Lirot (Bank of Israel series III) banknote shows an effigy of Chaim Weizmann (1874-1952), chemist, Zionist leader, president of the World Zionist Organization and the first president of Israel from 1949 until his death in 1952. Weizmann is noted for major chemical inventions which helped the British war effort in World War I. These, and his close relations with British Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur Balfour, are considered crucial reasons for the issuance of the Balfour Declaration of 1917, in which "...His Majesty's Government views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people..." Weizmann founded the scientific research institute in Rehovot, later renamed the Weizmann Institute of Science. Both Chaim Weizmann and his wife Vera are buried on the grounds of the Weizmann Institute.

On the banknote's obverse appears the portrait of Chaim Weizmann.

The reverse depicts the Knesset building in Jerusalem. The Knesset is Israel's 120-member unicameral parliament.

 

100 Lirot
Obverse:  Theodor Herzl
Reverse: emblem of the State of Israel, surrounded by emblems of the Twelve Tribes
Dominant color:  blue
Dimensions:  180 x 90 mm
Signatures:  David Horowitz, Governor Bank of Israel; Yehuda Chorin, Chairman Advisory Council
Printers (unverified):  Royal Joh. Enschedé, Haarlem/Netherlands


Common obverse


Cat. # 37a
black serial numbers on reverse, large 3.5 mm digits


Cat. # 37b
red serial numbers on reverse


Cat. # 37c
black serial numbers on reverse, small 2.8 mm digits


Cat. # 37d
brown serial numbers on reverse

Difference between black numbers on reverse of cat. # 37a & # 37c:


Cat. # 37a : large 3.5 mm digits, with prefix
Cat. # 37c : small 2.8 mm digits, without prefix

Cat.
#

Date

Varieties

Value USD

Heb.

Civil

VG

F

VF

XF

AU

Unc.

37a

5728

1968

black serial numbers, large 3.5 mm digits; issued 27 February 1969

2.00

3.00

4.50

7.00

14.00

30.00

37b

red serial numbers; issued March 1971

2.50

3.50

5.00

9.00

18.00

45.00

37c

black serial numbers, small 2.8 mm digits; issued 27 February 1969

1.50

2.00

3.50

5.50

10.00

22.00

37d

brown serial numbers; issued March 1974

1.50

2.00

3.50

5.50

10.00

22.00

Images on 100 Lirot (Bank of Israel series III) banknote:

Top left: Theodor Herzl (obverse)
Top right: Emblems of the twelve sons of Jacob, known as the Twelve Tribes of Israel (reverse)
Bottom: The Menorah, emblem of the State of Israel (reverse), and the original design in the Arch of Titus, Rome

The 100 Lirot (Bank of Israel series III) banknote is dedicated to Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), founder of the modern Zionist movement and visionary of Israel. Theodor (Hebrew: Binyamin Ze'ev) Herzl was born in Budapest in 1860. After his move to Vienna he became a writer, playwright and journalist, working as the Paris correspondent of the influential liberal Vienna newspaper Neue Freie Presse. Having encountered anti-Semitism from an early age, one single anti-Semitic outrage would shape his life and the fate of the Jews in the twentieth century, the Dreyfus affair. Witnessing mobs shouting "Death to the Jews" in Paris, the cradle of the French Revolution, he came to the conclusion that the Jewish problem is not a social issue, that anti-Semitism is a stable and immutable factor in human society which assimilation cannot solve, and that the only way out of this impasse is the transformation of all Jews worldwide into one nation with a Jewish state of its own. Herzl's ideas were met with enthusiasm by the Jewish masses, especially in Eastern Europe, and the result was the convening of the First Zionist Congress in Basle, Switzerland, on August 29-31, 1897, where the "Basle Program" of the Zionist Movement was adopted, declaring that "Zionism seeks to establish a home for the Jewish people in Palestine...". At the Congress the World Zionist Organization was established as the political arm of the Jewish people, and Herzl was elected its first president. Herzl convened six Zionist Congresses between 1897 and 1902. It was here that the tools for Zionist activism were forged: the Jewish Colonial Trust and the Jewish National Fund. After the First Zionist Congress, the movement met yearly at an international Zionist Congress. Herzl tried to gain acceptance from the great powers. In 1898 he traveled to the Land of Israel to meet with Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and to Constantinople (Istanbul) to meet with the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II, without success. Thereafter he turned to Great Britain, where he was offered a Jewish autonomous region in Kenya (erroneously referred to as Uganda). At the Sixth Zionist Congress (1903), Herzl proposed the British Uganda Program as a temporary refuge for Jews in immediate danger. While he made it clear that this program would not affect the ultimate aim of Zionism, a Jewish entity in the Land of Israel, the proposal aroused a storm at the Congress and nearly led to a split in the Zionist movement. The Uganda Program was finally rejected by the Zionist movement at the Seventh Zionist Congress in 1905. Herzl died in Vienna in 1904, of pneumonia and a weak heart overworked by his incessant efforts on behalf of Zionism. By then the movement had found its place on the world political map. In May 1948 Theodor Herzl's vision became reality with the establishment of the State of Israel, and in 1949 his remains were reinterred on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.

The obverse of the banknote shows the effigy of Theodor Herzl.

Its reverse depicts Israel's State emblem, a Menorah (seven-armed candelabrum) modeled after the Menorah shown on the Arch of Titus, Rome. Around the State emblem are the emblems of the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

 

Series IV of the Lira
Jewish and Israeli Personalities
1973 - 1975

To save on production costs and permit automatic sorting of banknotes, a new series - Series IV of the Lira - with a standard width of 76 mm was issued as from early 1975. The obverse of these notes also featured portraits of outstanding personalities, while the motif selected for the back was the gates of the Old City of Jerusalem. Another innovation was the printing of dots in intaglio to enable the blind to identify the denomination of the notes. A 500 Lirot note was first issued in this series, which was put into circulation in 1975-78. On the obverse bars of binary codes were imprinted in invisible ink, for the purpose of automatic detection.

 

5 Lirot
Obverse:  Henrietta Szold
Reverse:  Lions' Gate, Jerusalem
Dominant color:  brown
Dimensions:  128 x 76 mm
Signatures:  Moshe Sanbar, Governor Bank of Israel; David Horowitz, Chairman Advisory Council
Printers (unverified):  Royal Joh. Enschedé, Haarlem/Netherlands
Date of issue:  11 March 1976

Cat.
#

Date

Varieties

Value USD

Heb.

Civil

VG

F

VF

XF

AU

Unc.

38ZZ

5733

1973

 

0.40

0.40

0.50

0.70

1.00

1.80

Images on 5 Lirot (Bank of Israel series IV) banknote:

From left to right:

Henrietta Szold  (obverse)
Hadassah hospital and nursing school, Jerusalem (obverse)
Right: Lions' Gate, Old City of Jerusalem (reverse)

On the 5 Lirot (Bank of Israel series IV) banknote appears the effigy of Henrietta Szold (1860-1945), Zionist leader, founder and first president of the Hadassah Women's Organization in 1912. In 1934 she co-founded Youth Aliya.
Behind the portrait of Henrietta Szold on the banknote's obverse is the Hadassah hospital and nursing school on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem.

On the reverse appears the Lions' Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem.

 

10 Lirot

Obverse:  Moses Montefiore
Reverse:  Jaffa Gate, Jerusalem
Dominant color:  purple
Dimensions:  135 x 76 mm
Signatures:  Moshe Sanbar, Governor Bank of Israel; David Horowitz, Chairman Advisory Council
Printers (unverified):  Royal Joh. Enschedé, Haarlem/Netherlands
Date of issue:  30 January 1975

Cat.
#

Date

Varieties

Value USD

Heb.

Civil

VG

F

VF

XF

AU

Unc.

39

5733

1973

 

0.30

0.30

0.40

0.60

0.90

1.80

Images on 10 Lirot (Bank of Israel series IV) banknote:

Top left: Sir Moses Montefiore (obverse)
Top Right: Montefiore Windmill, Jerusalem (obverse)
Bottom: Panoramic view of Jaffa Gate and Tower of David, Jerusalem (reverse)

The 10 Lirot (Bank of Israel series IV) banknote depicts Sir Moses Chaim Montefiore, one of the most famous British Jews in the 19th century. Born in 1784 in Livorno, Italy, Montefiore was a financier, stockbroker and banker, but primarily a philanthropist. Jewish philanthropy and the Holy Land were at the center of Montefiore's interests. He traveled to Palestine seven times, first in 1827, and made his last trip at the age of 91. Montefiore donated large sums of money to promote industry, education and health. He left an indelible mark on the Jerusalem landscape with the windmill in Yemin Moshe, named after him, which was the first Jewish neighborhood built outside the Old City walls. These activities were part of a broader program to enable the Jews of Palestine to become self-supporting in anticipation of the establishment of a Jewish homeland. In addition to the windmill (to provide cheap flour to poor Jews), he built a printing press and textile factory, and helped to finance several agricultural colonies. He also attempted to acquire land for Jewish cultivation, but was hampered by Ottoman restrictions on land sale to non-Muslims. Following an outbreak of cholera in 1861 due to overcrowding, Montefiore built Mishkenot Sha'ananim outside the Old City.  A major source of information about the Jewish community in Palestine during the 19th century is a sequence of five censuses commissioned by Montefiore, attempting to list every Jew individually, together with some biographical and social information. In 1839, during his second visit to Eretz Israel, Montefiore first raised the subject of connecting Jaffa and Jerusalem by rail, a project which he actively propagated during his fifth trip in 1857. The railway project was finally postponed until the late 1880s, because of disinterest by the Ottoman rulers. Although Montefiore only spent a few days in Jerusalem, the 1827 visit changed his life, when he resolved to live a life of piety and Jewish observance. Sir Moses Montefiore died in 1885 at the age of 100.

The obverse of the banknote shows in the background the Montefiore windmill against the ramparts of the Old City of Jerusalem.

On the reverse appear the Jaffa Gate and David's Tower.

 

50 Lirot

Obverse:  Chaim Weizmann
Reverse:  Damascus Gate, Jerusalem
Dominant color:  green
Dimensions:  141 x 76 mm
Signatures:  Moshe Sanbar, Governor Bank of Israel; David Horowitz, Chairman Advisory Council
Printers (unverified):  Royal Joh. Enschedé, Haarlem/Netherlands
Date of issue:  26 January 1978

Cat.
#

Date

Varieties

Value USD

Heb.

Civil

VG

F

VF

XF

AU

Unc.

40

5733

1973

 

0.50

0.50

0.70

1.00

1.50

3.00

Images on 50 Lirot (Bank of Israel series IV) banknote:

Left: Dr. Chaim Weizmann (obverse)
Middle: Library of the Weizmann Institute, Rehovot (obverse)
Right: Damascus Gate, Jerusalem; early 20th century photograph (reverse)

The 50 Lirot (Bank of Israel series IV) banknote shows an effigy of Chaim Weizmann (1874-1952), chemist, Zionist leader, president of the World Zionist Organization and the first president of Israel from 1949 until his death in 1952. Weizmann is noted for major chemical inventions which helped the British war effort in World War I. These, and his close relations with British Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur Balfour, are considered crucial reasons for the issuance of the Balfour Declaration of 1917, in which "...His Majesty's Government views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people..." Weizmann founded the scientific research institute in Rehovot, later renamed the Weizmann Institute of Science. Both Chaim Weizmann and his wife Vera are buried on the grounds of the Weizmann Institute.

On the banknote's reverse, behind the portrait of Chaim Weizmann, appears the central library building of the Weizmann Institute.

The reverse depicts the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem.

 

100 Lirot

Obverse:  Theodor Herzl
Reverse:  Zion Gate
Dominant color:  blue
Dimensions:  147 x 76 mm
Signatures:  Moshe Sanbar, Governor Bank of Israel; David Horowitz, Chairman Advisory Council
Printers (unverified):  National Bank of Belgium, Brussels
Date of issue:  14 March 1975

Cat.
#

Date

Varieties

Value USD

Heb.

Civil

VG

F

VF

XF

AU

Unc.

41

5733

1973

 

0.60

0.60

0.70

1.00

1.50

3.00

Images on 100 Lirot (Bank of Israel series IV) banknote:

Top left: Theodor Herzl, late 1890s photograph (obverse)
Top right: Zion Gate, Jerusalem (reverse)
Bottom: Entrance gate to Mount Herzl, Jerusalem (obverse)

The 100 Lirot (Bank of Israel series IV) banknote is dedicated to Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), founder of the modern Zionist movement and visionary of Israel. Theodor (Hebrew: Binyamin Ze'ev) Herzl was born in Budapest in 1860. After his move to Vienna he became a writer, playwright and journalist, working as the Paris correspondent of the influential liberal Vienna newspaper Neue Freie Presse. Having encountered anti-Semitism from an early age, one single anti-Semitic outrage would shape his life and the fate of the Jews in the twentieth century, the Dreyfus affair. Witnessing mobs shouting "Death to the Jews" in Paris, the cradle of the French Revolution, he came to the conclusion that the Jewish problem is not a social issue, that anti-Semitism is a stable and immutable factor in human society which assimilation cannot solve, and that the only way out of this impasse is the transformation of all Jews worldwide into one nation with a Jewish state of its own. Herzl's ideas were met with enthusiasm by the Jewish masses, especially in Eastern Europe, and the result was the convening of the First Zionist Congress in Basle, Switzerland, on August 29-31, 1897, where the "Basle Program" of the Zionist Movement was adopted, declaring that "Zionism seeks to establish a home for the Jewish people in Palestine...". At the Congress the World Zionist Organization was established as the political arm of the Jewish people, and Herzl was elected its first president. Herzl convened six Zionist Congresses between 1897 and 1902. It was here that the tools for Zionist activism were forged: the Jewish Colonial Trust and the Jewish National Fund. After the First Zionist Congress, the movement met yearly at an international Zionist Congress. Herzl tried to gain acceptance from the great powers. In 1898 he traveled to the Land of Israel to meet with Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and to Constantinople (Istanbul) to meet with the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II, without success. Thereafter he turned to Great Britain, where he was offered a Jewish autonomous region in Kenya (erroneously referred to as Uganda). At the Sixth Zionist Congress (1903), Herzl proposed the British Uganda Program as a temporary refuge for Jews in immediate danger. While he made it clear that this program would not affect the ultimate aim of Zionism, a Jewish entity in the Land of Israel, the proposal aroused a storm at the Congress and nearly led to a split in the Zionist movement. The Uganda Program was finally rejected by the Zionist movement at the Seventh Zionist Congress in 1905. Herzl died in Vienna in 1904, of pneumonia and a weak heart overworked by his incessant efforts on behalf of Zionism. By then the movement had found its place on the world political map. In May 1948 Theodor Herzl's vision became reality with the establishment of the State of Israel, and in 1949 his remains were reinterred on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.

The obverse of the banknote shows the effigy of Theodor Herzl with the entrance gate to Mount Herzl in the background.

Its reverse depicts the Zion Gate of Jerusalem.

 

500 Lirot

Obverse:  David Ben-Gurion
Reverse:  Golden Gate, Jerusalem
Dominant color:  ivory-brown
Dimensions:  153 x 76 mm
Signatures:  Moshe Sanbar, Governor Bank of Israel; David Horowitz, Chairman Advisory Council
Printers (unverified):  Royal Joh. Enschedé, Haarlem/Netherlands
Date of issue:  26 May 1977

Cat.
#

Date

Varieties

Value USD

Heb.

Civil

VG

F

VF

XF

AU

Unc.

42

5735

1975

 

5.00

5.00

7.00

12.00

20.00

40.00

Images on 500 Lirot banknote:

Top left: David Ben-Gurion (obverse)
Top right: Golden Gate, Jerusalem (reverse)
Bottom: Ben-Gurion Library, Sde Boker (obverse)

The 500 Lirot banknote is dedicated to David Ben-Gurion (1886-1973), Israel's first prime minister from 1948 until 1963 (except an almost two-year long retirement in 1954-55). Ben-Gurion is regarded as the architect, founder and prime builder of the State of Israel. David Ben-Gurion was born in Plonsk, Poland in 1886 as David Gruen. Prior to his emigration to the Land of Israel in 1906, he had already been an active Zionist in his native Poland. Immediately upon his arrival he became one of the main leaders of the fledgling Yishuv (the Jewish community in Palestine), was instrumental in the creation of the first agricultural settlements, and the establishment of the self-defense group "Hashomer" (The Watchman). In 1910 he officially adopted the name Ben-Gurion (lion cub). Deported by the Ottoman authorities, he traveled on behalf of the Zionist cause to New York, where he met and married Paula Monbesz. Back in Eretz Israel, Ben-Gurion was a founder of the trade unions, in particular the national federation, the Histadrut, which he dominated from the early 1920s. He also served as its chairman, and from 1935 headed the World Zionist Organization and Jewish Agency. Having led the struggle to establish the State of Israel in May 1948,  Ben-Gurion became prime minister and defense minister. As premier, he oversaw the establishment of the state's institutions. He presided over various national projects aimed at the rapid development of the country and its population, such as absorbing massive waves of immigrants, rapid industrialization including a partially self-supporting national defense industry, construction of the national water carrier, rural development projects, and the establishment of new towns. In particular, he called for pioneering settlement in outlying areas, especially in the Negev. In late 1953, Ben-Gurion left the government and retired to Kibbutz Sde Boker in the Negev, returning to political life 1955. Despite bitter opposition, Ben-Gurion supported the establishment of relations with West Germany and the Reparations Agreement, which gave a boost to Israel's development in many fields. In 1963 Ben-Gurion resigned, but remained politically active. After a split with his Mapai party (which soon thereafter became a dominant part of the present-day Labor Party), and a later attempt to re-enter politics independently, Ben-Gurion retired from political life in 1970 and returned to Sde Boker, where he died in 1973. TIME Magazine ranks David Ben-Gurion as one of the "twenty leaders who helped to define the political and social fabric of our times".
The banknote's obverse shows Ben-Gurion with the library at Kibbutz Sde Boker in the background, against a backdrop of Negev desert landscape.

On the reverse is the Golden Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem.

 

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