A Historical Guide to the New Argentine Peso Bills

The Argentine peso
The Argentine peso | © Freejpg.com.ar/Flickr
Sorcha O'Higgins

Over the past few years, Argentina’s peso bills have undergone a transformation. Not only have the old bills been given a makeover, but a number of new bills of higher denominations have been released, a godsend for those whose 50AR$ bills are tattered and torn because of inflation. It’s also good news as it means that now there is a bill worth more than $5USD (the highest bill before the new release converts at just under $6USD). Here is our guide to the new family of Argentine peso bills.

$5 peso bill

Worth: $0.28USD approx

Front – Gracing the front of the new $5 pesos bill is José de San Martín (1778 – 1850). San Martin was an Argentine general who is also known by the grandiose nickname of the “Liberator of Argentine, Chile and Peru”. After leaving Argentina at the young age of seven to study in Spain, he returned to South America in 1812 and was the main leader of the fight for Argentina’s independence from Spain. After successfully securing the independence of the southern region of Argentina, San Martin served as the “Protector of Peru”.

Back – The back of the bill shows San Martin with an entourage of other renowned freedom fighters of the era: José Gervasio Artigas, a Uruguayan general nicknamed “the father of Uruguyan nationhood”, Simón Bolívar, the famous Venezuelan who was responsible in large part for many of the South American countries declaring independence from Spanish rule, gaining him the name “The Liberator”, and Bernardo O’Higgins, a Chilean military commander who freed Chile from Spanish rule.

$10 peso bill

Worth: $0.57USD approx

Front – The front of the $10 peso bill is adorned with the visage of Manuel Belgrano (1770 – 1820), a prominent Argentine lawyer, politician, economist and military leader who is credited not only with aiding Argentina in their fight for independence, but he also claims the glory of having created the Argentine flag.

Back – Seeing as Belgrano was the one who designed the flag, it comes as no surprise to see it blowing in all its splendour on the back of the note. As well as the flag, the reverse face also has the figures of Juana Azurduy, a badass female Bolivian military leader whose statue replaced that of Christopher Columbus outside the presidential palace, the Casa Rosada, in Buenos Aires – a move instigated by former president Cristina Kirchner in conjunction with Bolivian president Evo Morales; and the image of Pedro Ríos, a young man who fought for Belgrano in the war of independence, and died in battle banging a drum for the troops, an act which earned him the name “Tamborcito de Tacuarí”, or “the little drummer of Tacuarí”.

The old 10 peso bill

$50 peso bill

Worth: $2.87USD approx

Front – The front face of the bill depicts the archipelago of the Islas Malvinas, or what would be known as the Falkland Islands in other parts of the world. This collection of islands located in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Tierra del Fuego are claimed by Argentina as Argentine territory, but the islands themselves are governed by the UK. The archipelago was the site of the 1982 Falklands War, which lasted for 10 weeks after Argentina invaded the islands to stake their claim. The war and the current status of the islands is still very controversial in Argentina, and many war veterans feel they were abandoned by the Argentine state after fighting to uphold Argentine territory.

Back – On the back of the note we have Antonio Rivero, a gaucho from Uruguay who murdered five settlers in the town of Port Luis in the Malvinas in 1833. Rivero had been brought to work as a gaucho on the islands but was exposed to oppressive working conditions, resulting in a revolt in the part of the workers to set out to kill the landlords they were working for. The Malvinian seagull can also be seen on the note, as well as the Darwin Cemetery and the General Belgrano Crossing, symbols of the Argentine people who gave their lives in the conflict.

The new 50 peso bill

$100 peso bill

Worth: $5.7USD approx

Front – Argentina’s most beloved daughter Eva Peron graces the front of the $100 peso bill. The original version of this new bill had to be redesigned with greater security provision, such as the watermark, because it was subject to counterfeiting upon its release.

Back – On the back of the bill is an image of the “Ara Pacis Augustae”, or the “altar of peace”, a Roman sculpture which was created to honor the return of Augustus to Rome after three years in Hispania and Gaul, and is supposed to represent prosperity and peace.

The new 100 peso bill

$200 peso bill

Worth: $11.47USD approx

Front – The $200 peso bill was the first bill to be released in the new family of Argentine currency that includes the $500 peso bill and the $1000 peso bill, due to be released soon. This new family of bills honours Argentina’s native flora and fauna and marks a move away from the traditional images of war heroes and liberators. The front of the bill features an image of the Southern Right Whale, which was chosen to represent the Argentine Atlantic, and was listed as a National Natural Monument in 1984. Every year, more than 4,000 whales come to mate off the coast of Puerto Madryn in Chubut, Patagonia. The bill caused controversy when it was released as the whale was drawn upside down, and the bill had to be re-issued.

Back – Another homage to Argentina’s natural landscapes, the back of the bill depicts the habitat of the Southern Right Whale in Patagonia.

The new 200 peso bill

$500 peso bill

Worth: $28.7USD approx

Front – The second in the new family of bills celebrating Argentina’s nature, the $500 peso bill features the jaguar and some pink flowers. The jaguar is the biggest cat in the Americas and can be found in the jungles of Misiones, as well as the scrublands of Salta and Jujuy in northern Argentina.

Back – Similarly to the reverse of the $200 peso bill, the opposite side of the $500 note features the natural habitat of the jaguar, the Argentine jungle.

The new 500 peso bill

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