Israel Banknotes and Coins

Israel Banknotes

Pound System
1927-1945 Issue

500 Mils    1 Palestine Pound    5 Palestine Pounds    10 Palestine Pounds    
50 Palestine Pounds    100 Palestine Pounds 

Palestine Pound System
ND (1948-1951) "Pound" Issue
Banknotes and coins are not only means of payment, they are also a symbol of sovereignty. When the Fathers of the Yishuv were engaged in establishing the new state, one of the matters they had to deal with was its currency. As the name of the new state had not been decided, the question arose as to what would be printed on the banknotes.
The banknotes could not be printed in this country as the British Mandate had not yet expired, and also for lack of the required technical expertise. At the same time it was clear that no reputable foreign firm would print money for a nonexistent state. After considerable effort, Mr. S. Hoofien, then Chairman of the Board of the Anglo-Palestine Bank, persuaded the American Banknote Company of New York to print the banknotes.
To obviate the need for State Department approval for printing banknotes of a foreign country, the notes as ordered gave no indication of their being legal tender. (The legend "Legal tender for payment of any amount" was subsequently overprinted). In addition, the company stipulated that its name should not appear on the notes.
The design of the banknotes was based on different combinations of guilloches in the company's stock, some of which were used for printing banknotes for China! When the banknotes were ordered, no one yet knew what the name of the new state would be, let alone its currency. It was therefore decided to print "Palestine Pound" on the notes, the currency of the mandate.

The banknotes reached this country secretly in July 1948. On August 17 the government passed a law declaring the notes legal tender, and they were put into circulation on the following day.​

500 Mils    1 Palestine Pound    5 Palestine Pounds    10 Palestine Pounds   
 50 Palestine Pounds

Israel Pound System
ND (1952) Issue
On May 1, 1951 all the assets and liabilities of the Anglo Palestine Bank were transferred to a new company called Bank Leumi le-Israel B.M., and it therefore became necessary to issue a new series of banknotes. These were almost identical to the Anglo-Palestine Bank series, except that the colour of some of the notes was different. The name of the currency was the "Israeli Pound".

The new money was introduced in June 1952, along with a 10 percent compulsory loan levied on cash holdings and current accounts. ​

500 Prutah    1 Israel Pound    5 Israel Pounds    10 Israel Pounds   
 50 Israel Pounds

First Series of the Pound
Lira System
1955 "Lira" Issue
On the initiative of its first Governor, David Horowitz, and with the assistance of a special committee headed by Mr. S. Hoofien, a new series of banknotes was prepared; this, within the authority vested in the Bank by the Bank of Israel Law.
The committee chose Israeli landscapes 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 August-October 1955. The fifth was issued in 1957. ​

500 Prutah    1 Lira    5 Lirot    10 Lirot    50 Lirot

Second Series of the Pound
1958-1960 Issue
The abstract patterns of the first series did not meet with public approval. When criticism mounted, the Governor decided to issue a new series, and appointed a public committee to plan the notes. The committee selected drawings of people illustrating different walks of Israeli life (a pioneer-woman soldier, fisherman, scientist, etc.) as the principal motif and archaeological subjects as the secondary motif.
The form and size of the notes differed from those of the previous series. The basic sketches were the work of Israeli artists. The series was put into circulation in 1959-60, and gradually replaced the previous series.

From this series onwards, the banknotes of Israel are printed in several state or state-controlled banknote printing works in Europe.​

1/2 Lira    1 Lira    5 Lirot    10 Lirot    50 Lirot

Third Series of the Israeli Pound
1968 Issue
When the need arose for a new, higher-denomination note, a IL 100 note, bearing the portrait of Theodor Herzl, was introduced in February 1969. This was also the first note in a new series, which was designed by foreign graphic artists, who based their work on material and information supplied by the bank. The notes featured the portraits of prominent personalities in the history of the Jewish people.

The other notes in this series were put into circulation in 1970-1972.​

5 Lirot      10 Lirot      50 Lirot      100 Lirot

Fourth Series of the Israeli Pound
1973-1975 Issue
To save on production costs and permit automatic sorting of banknotes, the Bank of Israel issued a new series with a standard width of 76 mm. The face of these notes, too, bore 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 IL 500 note was first issued in this series, which was put into circulation in 1975-78.
On the back of the notes, bars of binary codes were imprinted in invisible ink, for the purpose of automatic detection.

Starting with this series, the Arabic caligraphy is inscribed by Yousuf Wahba.

5 Lirot      10 Lirot      50 Lirot      100 Lirot      500 Lirot

Sheqel Series
Currency reform 1980, 10 Lirot = 1 Sheqel.
On June 4, 1969 the Knesset passed a law providing for the sheqel to become the currency of Israel at a date to be determined on the recommendation of the Governor of the Bank of Israel. In November 1977 conditions were considered ripe for implementing this law, and in May 1978 Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Finance Minister Simcha Erlich approved the Governor's proposal to introduce a series of sheqel banknotes identical to the Israeli pound notes except for the denominations, which were to be determined by dropping one zero from the denominations of the pound series.
The notes were prepared in the same colour and size and with the same portraits as the pound series in order to make it easier for the public to become familiar with the new denominations.
The preparations were conducted in complete secrecy over a period of more than two years. On February 22, 1980 the sheqel was declared legal tender, and the first notes went into circulation on February 24, 1980.
This was the largest series of banknotes in the history of the State of Israel. Initially there were four denominations (1,5, 10 and 50 sheqalim), but as inflation accelerated, another five were added between 1981 and 1985 - 100, 500, 1,000, 5,000 and 10,000 sheqalim.

Beginning with the IS 500 denomination, the banknotes were printed in distinct colours and standard size (76x138 mm), thus achieving a considerable economy in production costs. A new security device - a look-through - was incorporated, while special signs for the blind continued to be printed in various geometrical forms.​
500 Sheqalim     1000 Sheqalim     5000 Sheqalim     10000 Sheqalim

First Series of the New Sheqel
On September 4, 1985 the new sheqel, equal to 1,000 old sheqalim, became the currency of Israel. The dropping of three zeros from the old sheqel denominations was intended to simplify money calculations and to facilitate cash payments and financial recording. The name "sheqel" was retained so as not to deviate from the original intention of the legislator as embodied in the Sheqel Currency Law, 5729-1969, viz., to preserve the ancient name of Israel's coinage.
The first series included a new denomination - NIS 50. Later on a NIS 100 banknote was introduced, and in 1986, for the first time since the establishment of the state, an intermediate denomination (NIS 20) was issued.
The new sheqel series continues the trend of perpetuating the memory of prominent personages in Jewish history. The colours and other characteristics of the first banknotes are similar to those of the old sheqel series. The NIS 20, NIS 50, NIS 100 and NIS 200 notes were printed in distinct colours different from the previous ones in order to facilitate their identification by the public.​

1 New Sheqel    5 New Sheqalim    10 New Sheqalim    20 New Sheqalim    

50 New Sheqalim    100 New Sheqalim    200 New Sheqalim

Second Series of the New Sheqel
The second series includes improved security features against forgery. The new banknotes share similar design elements and all have uniform security features. The personages on the second series of NIS notes are those who featured on the same denominations of the first NIS series. The notes are designed vertically, and all denominations are uniform in size: 138 mm x 71 mm. The second series was designed by Naomi Rosner and Meir Eshel.​

Israel Coins