​2½ Guilder Note, 1949

I haven’t found figures on how many 2½ guilder banknotes dated 1949 that De Nederlandsche Bank produced, but it must have been a lot. I know that because, at least as of Sunday, one was for sale on eBay for $1.30, plus 50 cents shipping. A valuable collector’s item, it’s not. Suits me.

The one for sale looks roughly in the same slightly worn condition as the one I have, which is on permanent loan from my mother. It’s a smallish note, 4½ inches by 2⅜ inches. My parents picked it up during their time in Europe in the mid-1950s.

The one to have, at least according to valuations on eBay, is the 1939 Dutch East Indies 25 guilders with Javanese dancers. Someone wants $400 for one of those.

I like the fact that its denomination is ​2½ guilders, not a quantity you see often, though for a long time the United States issued ​2½ dollar gold coins, the Quarter Eagle. Twee en een halvee gulden is also fun to say, though I probably don’t sound Dutch when I do.

If I’ve done my research correctly, a guilder was worth about a U.S. quarter in the mid-50s, valuing this note at 62 cents or so. Not as trifling a sum then as now  — its purchasing power was probably over $5 in current money — but not that much either.

Also of note on the obverse: Uitgegeven krachtens k.b. van 4 Februari 1943 en van 18 Mei 1945. My stab at a translation: issued by virtue of royal decree, February 4, 1943 and May 18, 1945. The Dutch government was in exile in the UK on that first date, including the famously strong-willed Queen Wilhelmina. I know that, anticipating an Allied victory, new Dutch currency was produced starting in 1943. Made in the United States as it happens, as the designs more than hints at.

The 1949 reserve has a Spirographic sort of design.

Queen Juliana appears on the 1949 note, new to the job since her mother abdicated the year before. Juliana was still on some of the coins in circulation when I visited the Netherlands in 1983, though she had abdicated three years earlier in favor of Beatrix, who stayed on as queen until 2014, past the time when guilders ceased to be money. I wonder if the Dutch miss their guilders.

Time for A Time for Gifts

Bitter cold today, and it’s only going to get bitterer. Maybe minus 15 F. by Wednesday, after another round of snow. At times like that, icy little puffs push through the cracks in your house to remind you that the chilly world is indifferent to your fate, you who came from subtropical climes but were headstrong about migrating toward the pole.

My reading material at the turn of the year is A Time for Gifts (1977), in which Patrick Leigh Fermor, who died in 2011 at 96, recounts part of his walk as a very young man from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople in the winter of 1933-34. A remarkable story, well told, and reminds just about everyone else (such as me) that their travels are pallid indeed compared with his.

It features a lot of interesting detail: “I pestered Fritz Spengel, the son of my hosts, with questions about student life: songs, drinking ritual, and above all, duelling, which wasn’t duelling at all of course, but ritual scarification. Those dashing scars were school ties that could never be taken off, the emblem and seal of a ten-years’ cult of the humanities. With a sabre from the wall, Fritz demonstrated the stance and the grip and described how the participants were gauntleted, gorgeted and goggled until every exposed vein and artery, and every inch of irreplaceable tissue, were upholstered from harm… and the blades clashed by numbers until the razor-sharp tips sliced gashes deep enough, tended with rubbed-in salt, to last a lifetime.”

And musings: “The Thirty Years War, the worst of them all, was becoming an obsession with me: a lurid, ruinous, doomed conflict of briefs and dynasties, helpless and hopeless, with principals shifting the whole time, and a constant shuffle and re-deal of the main actors. For, apart from the events – the defenestrations and pitched battles and historic sieges, the slaughter and famine and plague – astrological portents and the rumour of cannibalism and witchcraft flitted about in the shadows. The polyglot captains of the ruffian multi-lingual hosts hold our gaze willy-nilly with their grave eyes and their Velasquez moustaches and populate half the picture galleries in Europe…”

Huis Tem Bosch ’93

We now have a 2015 calendar produced by Nishi-Nippon Railroad Co. Ltd., which I believe Yuriko got for free, and it’s a high-quality bit of work. It’s has a travel theme, and as with a lot of calendars – or magazines or other pictorial works — the photography’s of extreme high quality. Looking at the pictures, you can easily imagine that you’ll never see anything so grand in person, but then again, everything I see with my eyes is higher quality than any photography; it’s just that we’re so used to seeing with our eyes that we don’t appreciate it.

Anyway, the subject is Kyushu – the coast off Nichinan City, plum groves in Kitakyushu, barley fields in Saga Prefecture, Ogi City cherry blossoms and more. It reminds me of how little I saw of Kyushu: mainly Nagasaki and the curious Japanese theme park known as Huis Tem Bosch.

The theme? The Netherlands. Wiki puts it this way, and I can confirm the description, at least as of December 1993 when we went: “The park features many Dutch-style buildings such as hotels, villas, theatres, museums, shops and restaurants, along with canals, windmills, amusement rides, and a park planted in seasonal flowers.”

Parades, too.

HuisTemBosch 1993Since we were there in December, a fellow dressed as Father Christmas posed for pictures with visitors. I guess that would be Sinterklaas. I think he really was a Dutchman, but in any case he was blotto.