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20 Centavos 1897, Cuba

in Krause book Number: 53a
Years of issue: 15.02.1897
Signatures: El Gobernador: Francisco Cassa Rouvier
Serie: Banco Español de la Isla de Cuba
Specimen of: 15.02.1897
Material: Cotton fiber
Size (mm): 87 х 42
Printer: American Bank Note Company, New-York

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20 Centavos 1897




Blurred silhouette on paper.


20 Centavos 1897

On top is the window with the following image:

Below are two of the globe, representing the New World or America (left) and the Old World or Europe (right).

On the New World globe is the coat of arms of Havana and (near) bundle of sugar cane, as the main Cuban food product.

coatThe coat of arms of Havana (End of XIX century).

The coat of arms of Havana, Cuba, consist of three castles that represent the three original main castles which defended the city - namely, the Fuerza Castle, the Morro Castle and the Punta Castle.

The key represents that Havana was the gateway to the New World of Spanish America.

On the Old World globe is one of the varieties of the coat of arms of Spanish Kingdom.

The blazon of the Spanish coat of arms is follows:

1st and 3rd quarters - Gules, a three towered castle Or, masoned sable and ajouré azure - Kingdom of Castile.

2nd quarter - Argent, a lion rampant purpure (sometimes blazoned gules) crowned Or, langued and armed gules - Kingdom of León.

4nd quarter - Or, four pallets Gules - for the former Crown of Aragon.

enté en point - Argent, a pomegranate proper seeded gules, supported, sculpted and leafed in two leaves vert - Kingdom of Granada.

Centered (Inescutcheon) - During the brief reign of Amadeo, the royal crown was reinstated and an escutcheon of Savoy (Gules, a cross argent) was placed en surtout. There were not many Spanish arms including the escutcheon of Aosta (Argent, a cross gules within a bordure compony azure and or), the arms used by Amadeo before his accession to the throne of Spain.

Crest & Top of supporter - Or and precious stones, with eight rosettes, five visible, and eight pearls interspersed, closed at the top by eight diamonds also adorned with pearls and surmounted by a cross on a globe - Spanish Royal crown (Heraldic crown).

Near Old World globe is Caduceus, as a symbol of commerce.

The caduceus is the staff, carried by Hermes, in Greek mythology. The same staff was also borne by heralds in general, for example by Iris, the messenger of Hera. It is a short staff entwined by two serpents, sometimes surmounted by wings. In Roman iconography, it was often depicted being carried in the left hand of Mercury, the messenger of the gods, guide of the dead and protector of merchants, shepherds, gamblers, liars, and thieves.

As a symbolic object, it represents Hermes (or the Roman Mercury), and by extension trades, occupations, or undertakings associated with the god. In later Antiquity, the caduceus provided the basis for the astrological symbol representing the planet Mercury. Thus, through its use in astrology and alchemy, it has come to denote the elemental metal of the same name. It is said the wand would wake the sleeping and send the awake to sleep. If applied to the dying, their death was gentle; if applied to the dead, they returned to life.

Denominations are across all field of banknote.


20 Centavos 1897

donkey cart

Centered is the donkey or horse cart (despite all catalogues says, that this is ox cart). The cart is loaded with sugar cane.

Of Cuba’s 28,000,000 acres, about 2,000,000 are devoted to the raising of her sugar crop, which in amount is a little less than half of the entire cane-sugar product of the world. Historians differ as to when the cultivation of sugar began in Cuba, but in 1523 Philip I., King of Spain, allowed a loan of 4000 pesetas to each person who would undertake to establish a sugar plantation; and although it appears that the people of San Domingo began cane farming about this time, it is not positively known that the industry had secured much of a hold in Cuba until sixty years later. Indeed, some writers assert that the first cane farm was established in Cuba in 1595. In any event, three hundred years—or, to be exact, two hundred and ninety-nine years—later, that is, in 1894, the year before the last rebellion, during which the sugar industry was almost wiped out, 1,054,214 tons of sugar were produced, the greatest quantity ever raised in any one year in the Island.

Although it made so early a start in the history of American agriculture, the sugar industry in Cuba languished for two hundred years, the annual output during that time being only about 28,000 tons. A quarter of a century later it reached 75,000 tons; the middle of the nineteenth century saw it at 250,000 tons, and in 1894 it passed the million mark, with an impetus that would have sent it on the first quarter in the second million by the end of the century, if the wretched mismanagement and criminal culpability of Spain had not brought on the rebellion.

With millions of acres of the richest and best cane land on the globe, yet untouched by the plough, with a climate unsurpassed for the growth and development of sugar cane, and with a prestige for Cuban sugar second to none in the markets of the world, the future of Cuba’s sugar presents a possibility of wealth surpassing the richness of the gold and silver which came to Columbus in the marvellous tales of the interior of the magnificent Island which he had discovered.

Recurring to the effect of the rebellion of 1895-1898 on the sugar industry, it is appalling to contemplate the dreadful decrease in a country’s chief source of wealth and income to the government, as well as to the individual. In 1894, the output was 1,054,214 tons, and the following year, under the first touch of war and its alarms, the crop dropped off 50,000 tons, though it remained still above the million. This was the second year in Cuban sugar history that the million mark was passed. In 1896, the war was raging all over the Island, and with the Spaniards on one side, taking men and cattle, and the insurgents on the other, burning cane and buildings and stealing stock, the sugar planter was utterly obliterated in some sections, and so badly crippled in others that the output reached only 225,221 tons, the lowest figure known in fifty years. Nor was this astounding decrease a matter of gradual accomplishment, permitting the country, the business, and the people to accommodate themselves to the changed conditions, but it happened almost in a night, and an income from sugar of $80,000,000 a year dwindled on the instant to $16,000,000, a loss of $64,000,000 at once as the result of Spanish mismanagement.

As a cane-sugar-producing country, nature has made Cuba superior to any competitor which may appear; but all sugar does not come from cane, and since 1840, when the first record of beet sugar appeared, with 50,000 tons for the year’s output for the world, as against 1,100,000 tons of cane sugar, about 200,000 tons of which was raised in Cuba, the sugar growers of the Island have had their only dangerous rival. Beginning with the small production of 50,000 tons in 1840, principally grown in France, the beet-sugar production increased rapidly in Europe, reaching 200,000 tons in 1850; 400,000 tons in 1860; 900,000 tons in 1870; 1,860,000 tons in 1880; and in 1894 going to 3,841,000 tons. Cane sugar in the meantime only increased from 1,100,000 to 2,960,000 metric tons. Cuba in 1895 produced only 100,000 tons less than the world’s entire output of all kinds of sugar in 1840. The total output of beet and cane sugars in 1893-1894 was 6,801,000 metric tons. The United States in 1894 produced 272,838 tons of cane sugar, 20,219 tons of beet sugar, 394 tons of sorghum sugar, and 3408 tons of maple sugar.

With the growth of sugar production in Cuba have come newer and better methods; and whereas in 1825 the largest plantations rarely exceeded 1500 acres in extent, producing only 350 tons per year, with a total value of land, buildings, machinery, stock, and slaves, of, say, $500,000, with aggregate revenue of, say, $60,000, and expenses of $30,000, leaving a profit of $30,000,—in these later times there are plantations of 25,000 acres, representing an investment of $2,000,000 with an annual revenue of $1,000,000, expenses, say, of $800,000, leaving a profit of $200,000 per year. Contrasting the earlier figures with these later estimates, a profit of ten per cent. is shown in 1894 as against six per cent. in 1825.

In 1840, it is estimated there were 1710 sugar plantations in Cuba; while in 1894 there were 1100. Sugar farms are upland soils, the cane requires to be planted only once in seven years, and no fertilizers are required. Many of the planters in later years are very enterprising, and the machinery they use is the best in the world. The outfitting of one central, or grinding plant, with a capacity of 1000 tons a day, costs $500,000. Houses and stores for the accommodation of the employes are provided; there are locomotives and cars for the miles of railway for bringing the cane to the mill from all parts of the plantations; as many as 2000 labourers are employed; 1000 cattle for work and beef are to be found on this place; and the colonia is conducted upon the most economic, advantageous, and improved lines. This is a model colonia; but all Cuban colonias are not models. (Robert P. Porter. Industrial Cuba).

Denominations are across all field of banknote.