SPENT: CURRENT-CY: (Ottoman) Empire State of Mind


In honor of my recent trip to Istanbul, I found it appropriate to do a little currency brief on the Türk lirası currently in circulation by the Turkish government. My first question upon leaving the exchange office- Why is Atatürk the only political figure on the currency? What’s going on here? These beautiful notes were intriguing and upon return, I still want to know more.

First, a little history Mustafa Kemal Atatürk,
To Turkey, Atatürk (military officer, prime minister, president) rescued them after the fall of the Ottoman Empire from invading Ally forces and after political turmoil helped to establish the Turkish Republic in 1923. What this meant for the area was a sweeping modernization that secularized the nation from a formerly Islamic rule. This included acts such as banning the veiling for women. A new Turkish alphabet was also introduced based on Latin lettering that diminished the importance of Arabic outside of religious texts. He sought to establish a high level of modern education for men and women in Turkey and additionally gender equality.

His legacy is memorialized by the naming of many public institutions, and of course, on all Türk lirası.The Türk lirası and notes feature different portraits of Atatürk, and have since their inception in the early 1920s. The only other political figure to appear on Turkish currency was İsmet İnönü, the second President of Turkey. These bank notes were only distributed between 1937 to 1942. In case you didn’t notice- the lirası are stunning pieces of design work! The bold palette and monochromatic schemes on each note work beautifully separate or together in a collection. Counterfeit production happens relatively often in in Turkey- I was handed a couple dud coins myself, which I unfortunately realized when trying to purchase tickets for their tram. The notes feature a line of security holograms, emblems, and watermarks up the right hand side of both sides of the note. The star from the Turkish flag is present throughout the entire composition, which connects the design to the lira coin shown below also:


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