Jamaican banknotes are issued in denominations of $50, $100, $500, $1000 and $5000. The notes are all of the same size (145 x 68 mm). Each note has a unique watermark, namely the portrait that is featured on the particular note. The serial number appears twice on the face of each note, vertically to the left of the portrait and horizontally on the far right of the note. Each edition of the note carries the date of printing and the signature of the Governor of the Bank of Jamaica. Special symbols to aid the visually impaired appear on the front of all notes except the $1000 and $5000. Instead, these high value notes have their denomination printed in bold numerals to the bottom right hand corner. The front of each note bears the portrait of either a Jamaican national hero or a former Prime Minister, whereas local scenes and popular landmarks appear on the back.
The coat of arms was first granted to Jamaica in 1661. Designed by William Sandcroft, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, it shows a male and female Taino Indian standing on either side of the shield, which bears a red cross with five golden pineapples superimposed on it. The crest is a Jamaican crocodile surmounting the royal helmet and mantlings. The original Latin motto Indus Uterque Serviet Uni was changed to one in English, Out of Many, One People , in 1962, the year of Jamaica’s independence.
The Rt. Excellent Samuel Sharpe, National Hero
Samuel Sharpe was an educated town slave who became leader of the native Baptist church in Montego Bay, and used religious meetings to organise activities for the slaves. Sharpe expressed his concerns about events in England which affected the slaves and Jamaica, and devised a plan of passive resistance in which the slaves would refuse to work on Christmas Day of 1831 and afterwards, unless their grievances were heard and accepted by the estate owners and managers. When some of the planters heard of Sharpe’s plan, troops and warships were sent to Montego Bay and Black River. On 27 December 1831, Kensington Estate Great House, in St James, was set on fire. This signaled the start of the slave rebellion which lasted eight days and resulted in the deaths of 14 whites and more than 500 slaves. On 23 May 1832, Sam Sharpe was hanged at the parade in Montego Bay, now renamed Sam Sharpe Square.
Centre : Morning glory (Ipomoea)
Morning glory is found in the West Indies, as well as in North America, Asia and South Africa. It is a perennial climbing plant that grows up to 30 feet high. The flowers are trumpet-shaped and large, and may be pink, rose, red, white, blue or purple. They are often bi-coloured with edging, stripes or flecks, and are sometimes fragrant.
Vertical line on right and left sides of note.
Doctor’s Cave Beach, Montego Bay
The world-famous Doctor’s Cave Beach in Montego Bay, Jamaica, was originally owned by Dr. Alexander James McCathy. He and his father, who was also a physician, as well as other friends in the medical profession, had used the beach as a refreshing spa. At that time, access to the beach was through a cave. For that reason, it became widely known as the Doctor’s Cave. In 1906, Dr. McCathy donated the property to be used as a public beach.
Sir Donald Sangster
Donald Sangster was born on 26 October 1911, in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica. After graduating from Munro College, the outstanding sportsman began studies as a solicitor, but entered the field of politics before finishing his studies. After completing his studies in law, he was admitted to the Court of Judicature in August 1937. Sangster was elected a member of the House of Representatives in 1949 and the following year became Minister of Social Welfare under the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). In that same year, Sangster became the party’s first Deputy Leader and in 1953 was appointed Minister of Finance. When Jamaica became independent in 1962, Donald Sangster was again named Minister of Finance. In 1964, when Sir Alexander Bustamante, the then Prime Minister fell ill, Donald Sangster was asked to act in that position. He eventually led his party to win the general elections and in February 1967, became Prime Minister. Sangster’s tenure as Prime Minister was, however, short-lived as he passed away two months later, on 11 April. During his political career, Sir Donald made considerable contributions to the Commonwealth, race relations and the principles of parliamentary government.
Centre: Map of Jamaica & Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia)
The Jacaranda family, native to South America, consists of more than fifty species, of which the J. mimosifolia is the most widely planted and admired. This deciduous tree grows very fast and likes fertile, sunny areas. It does not thrive well in heavy wet soils. The Jacaranda produces vivid lilac/purple-blue clusters of trumpet-shaped blossoms, which appear in the summer. The ferny leaves of the tree are reminiscent of those of the mimosa, thus its botanical name.
Two vertical lines on right side of note.
Dunn’s River Falls
Dunn’s River Falls are found on Dunn’s River in Jamaica. They are about 1 mile from the town of Ocho Rios, on the northern coastline of Jamaica. The falls, believed to be the only waterfall in the world, which forms the mouth of a river, are 200 metres high. There are a series of cataracts and several plateaux, which people can climb. Dunn’s River Falls is one of Jamaica’s most popular tourist attractions.
The Rt. Excellent Nanny of the Maroons
National heroine, Nanny, stands out in history as the only female among Jamaica’s national heroes. She was a leader of the Maroons at the beginning of the 18th century and was known by both her people and the British settlers as an outstanding military leader. She became a symbol of unity and strength for her people during times of crisis and was particularly important to them in the fierce fight with the British during the First Maroon War from 1720 to 1739. Nanny (or ‘Granny Nanny’, as she was affectionately known) is said to have been a small, wiry woman with piercing eyes. Her influence over the Maroons was so strong that it seemed to be supernatural. Like the heroes of the pre-independence era, Nanny too met her untimely death at the instigation of the English some time around 1734. However, the spirit of Nanny of the Maroons remains today as a symbol of that indomitable desire that will never yield to captivity.
Hibiscus is a tropical flower of great and universally admired beauty. Although native to Asia, Australia, the South Pacific and Hawaii, it can be found in almost every island in the Caribbean. In Jamaica, it is often referred to as ‘shoe black’, because the crushed flower was often used as black shoe polish. Hibiscus is a favourite fence shrub all over the island.
Two small circles on right side of note.
Old Map of Jamaica highlighting Port Royal
Originally known as Cayo de Carena, Port Royal was the most important city in Jamaica in the latter half of the 17th century. It was the haven for pirates such as Sir Henry Morgan, as well as being the island’s chief trading centre for sugar, slaves and raw materials. Port Royal, which came to be known as the ‘richest and wickedest city in the world’, was destroyed by a massive earthquake, which plunged half of the city beneath the sea, on 07 June 1692. In the 18th century, Port Royal was also an important naval station. Today, it is one of the island’s tourist attractions, and is noted for its sidewalk ‘fish and bammy’ restaurants.
The Honourable Michael Norman Manley, O.M. O.C.C. LL.D. (Hon.)
Michael Manley was the son of National Hero, Norman Washington Manley and the late Edna Manley, artist and sculptress. He was born in Jamaica on 10 December 1924 and received his early education at Jamaica College. After graduating from the London School of Economics, Manley returned to Jamaica and became actively involved in the trade union movement. In 1952, he entered politics and was elected to the National Executive Council of the People’s National Party (PNP). Manley became President of the PNP in 1969 and won three general elections in 1972, 1976 and 1989. During his tenure as Prime Minister, he instituted social and economic reforms such as the National Housing Trust, Maternity Leave and Minimum Wage Laws, Bastardy Act, Labour Relations & Industrial Disputes Act and the National Literacy Programme. He contributed much towards obtaining equal opportunities for women at the workplace and women’s rights in general. Internationally, Manley was regarded as an advocate for greater parity of Third World countries in international affairs and was instrumental in gaining acceptance of the New World Economic Order. He was the recipient of several honorary degrees from various universities across the world. Michael Manley voluntarily resigned as Prime Minister of Jamaica and President of the PNP in 1992. He died on 06 March 1997. more>>
Centre: Swallow-tailed butterflies (papilio homerus fabricius)
The giant swallow-tailed butterfly is an endangered butterfly found only in Jamaica. With an average wingspan of 15cm (6 in.), it is considered to be the largest of the true swallow-tailed species in the world and the largest butterfly in the Americas.
When Jamaica became independent in 1962, the decision was taken to construct an official residence for the Prime Minister. Two competitions were launched – one to select a design and the other to select a name for the new building. Architects Lloyd A. Shearer and Marvin D. Goodman won the design competition which carried a prize of ₤200. Construction was carried out between July 1963 and August 1964 by contractors McGregor & Levy Ltd. Of the hundreds of entries, 74 suggested that the building be named ‘Jamaica House’. Jamaica House is located at Hope Road, Kingston and is used, today, mainly as offices of the Prime Minister.
Rt. Honourable Hugh Lawson Shearer ON, PC, OJ, LLD (Hon) (May 18, 1923- July 5, 2004)
Mr. Hugh Shearer was prime minister of Jamaica during the period April 11, 1967 to March 2, 1972. He was born in the village of Martha Brae near Falmouth Trelawny and attended the Falmouth Primary School and St. Simon’s College in Kingston. He entered representational politics in 1947 (KSAC) and served as Member of Parliament for West Kingston, 1955-59, and later for South Eastern Clarendon, 1967-93. He also served as Senator in the intervening years.
Mr. Shearer was an outstanding Trade Unionist and was appointed Assistant General Secretary of the Bustamante Industrial Trades Union (BITU) in 1947, its Island Supervisor in 1953, Vice-President in 1969 and President-General in 1977. He was elected Chairman of the Joint Trade Unions Research Centre in 1992. Two national honours were conferred on him during his lifetime: The Order of Jamaica in 1990 and The Order of the Nation in 2002.
Centre: Jamaican Nightingale (Minus polyglotto).
The back of the note features the blossoms of the Frangipani (Plumeria rubra) and an aerial view of Highway 2000.