Not long ago, many Icelanders had hopes of joining the European Union, but steps to this end have all but halted and Iceland continues to hold on to its currency known as the ‘kronur’ or crown. Here is a little who’s who of famous Icelanders featured on Icelandic bank notes.
The 500 Kronur Note – Jon Sigurðsson (1811 -1879)
The red 500 kronur note pictures Jón Sigurðsson, the leader of the 19th century Icelandic independence movement, who is celebrated as the ‘President of the Icelanders’ even before the country achieved independence from Denmark. He is regarded as a national hero and the Icelandic nation chose his birthday, June 17th, as their national day. Tributes to Jón Sigurðsson’s life include a museum in his honour at his birthplace in the Westfjords, and a statue of him at Austurvöllur, Reykjavik, across from the Icelandic parliament building.
The 1000 Kronur Note – Brynjolfur Sveinsson (1605 – 1675)
Brynjólfur Sveinsson served as a Lutheran bishop at the Cathedral of Skalhólt, located in the south of Iceland between Selfoss and Geysir. He was a collector of precious old Icelandic manuscripts, such as the sagas, and is also known for his poetry and hymns.
The 2000 Kronur Note – Johannes Kjarval (1885 – 1972)
The 2000 kronur note is rare, although it was put into circulation in 1995. On the front of the note, the popular and prolific Icelandic artist, Jóhannes Kjarval is pictured. He developed his own personal style of painting by mixing many styles on one canvas. He is known for his abstract landscapes and lavascapes and two of his best known works, ‘Yearning for Flight’ and ‘The Woman and the Flowers’ are immortalized on the back of the 2000 kronur note.
The 5000 Kronur Note – Ragnheiður Jonsdottir (1646 – 1715)
Ragnheiður Jónsdóttir was the daughter of the famous Icelandic Roman Catholic priest, Jón Arason. Married consecutively to two Lutheran Bishops at Hólar, Ragnheiðar was highly regarded in her time. She was a famous seamstress as well as a teacher of the craft. She was chosen to be on the 5000 kronur note as a noteworthy woman who made large contributions to Icelandic society in historical times.
The 10.000 Kronur Note – Jonas Hallgrimsson (1807 – 1845)
The image of Jónas Hallgrímsson, author, naturalist and poet, graces the cover the Iceland’s 10,000kr note. Jónas was active in the Icelandic independence movement and is widely regarded as the most influential Icelandic poet in modern times. He is best known for his poems about Iceland and its people. The back of this note depicts the Golden Plover, the herald of spring in Iceland. While this note carries the highest denomination, its value at present day market rates is only about 65 euros.
So there they are, the 5 bank notes in Icelandic currency. Which note do you use most during your travels in Iceland?
You can also visit the Icelandic Numismatic Museum located inside the Central Bank of Iceland. Free entrance between 13.30 and 15.30, Monday through Friday.
Central Bank of Iceland
Einholt 4, 105 Reykjavík
Tel.: (+354) 569 9962, (+354) 569 9964
Fax: (+354) 569 9609
e-mail: [email protected]
Translated and adapted from the French, ‘Qui sont ces célébrités sur les billets Islandais?’ by Delphine Briois