Guilders and Kingfishers

For whatever reason, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the old Dutch guilders (their economic currency prior to the introduction of the Euro in the early part of this decade)… and also about kingfishers.  These recurring themes have come up several different times in random conversations over the past week or two.  There was something in my head that told me the two things (guilders and kingfishers) were somehow connected.  So I started hunting around my desk and around the internet to research these topics…

One of the things that struck me was the reminder of how beautiful Dutch money used to be.

50 Gulden

Maybe the guilder notes were very plain and ordinary to Dutch people back in the day — but I remember visiting Amsterdam in the spring of 2001 and being simply awed by the aesthetic elegance of Dutch bank notes.  Clorful, varied, and they displayed that classic sense of Dutch design.  Don’t you think that 50 guilder note (above) was especially beautiful?  I have, in fact, heard that Dutch people sometimes miss the wondeful old guilders — and even though I never actually lived here while they were in circulation, I kind of miss them, too…

But what I was really looking for was the guilder / kingfisher connection.  And some of my internet research led me to believe that it was the 10 guilder note which might complete the loop.  It’s sometimes called the IJsvogel note, and while IJsvogel means literally, "ice bird" it also seems to basically be the Dutch word for kingfisher…

10 Gulden

But then I was rifling through my personal collection of a few of the various currencies that I’ve accumulated throughout the years in my various travels, and I was finally able to place the kingfisher that I had in my mind…

But it was not on any of the Dutch currency.

It was, coincidentally, on a note of similar value and similar coloring.  But it was actually the Canadian five dollar bill on which the kingfisher illustration which I’d been envisioning appeared (as you can see below).

5 Canadian Dollars

But then, I saw my own 10 guilder note that I’ve also kept throughout the years — and as I examined it more closely, I saw that it did indeed include the word "IJsvogel" towards the bottom of the note, just below a big white space and just above the words "TIEN GULDEN" (TEN GUILDERS).  So I held up the note to the light, and — Voila!  A Kingfisher on the Dutch 10 guilder note!!!

10 Gulden Kingfisher

I honestly don’t know if I had noticed the kingfisher watermark several years ago and then just kept it in the back of my mind, subconsciously — or if it was just dumb luck that these two lines of thinking came together.  But somehow, it felt very satisfying to be able to put the two together.

Kingfishers are cool.  Dutch guilders are (were) cool.  And kingfishers and Dutch guilders together, well, that’s just super-duper-cool.

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