Chico Té And An Immoral Past: 500 Pesos (Guinea Bissau, 1990)-Article

Updated: Apr 7

This Guinea-Bissauan banknote represents the 3rd denomination of the Guinea-Bissau Peso (Series 1990). The now obsolete Peso circulated from 1975 to 1997, replacing the colonial Portuguese Guinean Escudo at par (1:1). The Peso circulated in 3 separate series, issued in 1975, 1983, and 1990. The final 2 series share a similar design, although differ in their color-coding.

In 1997, the Guinea-Bissau Peso was replaced by the West African CFA Franc. The exchange rate was 65 Peso to 1 Franc. While the Franc has since remained the currency of Guinea-Bissau Peso. In 2019, a CFA Franc replacement called the Eco was proposed. (This note will be reviewed reverse first)


The reverse features an illustration depicting the notorious Atlantic Slave Trade. A line of West African slaves can seen being gathered, to be shipped across the Atlantic Ocean. To be used as farm and plantation labor in the Americas. Over the horizon a pair high-sailed ships can be seen.

The header reads, the (trans.) "Central Bank of Guinea-Bissau. On the corners are number "500"s representing the note's face value. Below the lower-left of the scene, is the text (trans.) "Five Hundred Pesos", repeating the note's 500 Peso value. Nearby is a counterfeit warning, it reads (trans.) "The law punishes the counterfeiter".

Moving toward the lower-left, is a "blue flame". This flame is the positive of the note's registration element. This positive completes a negative on the note's observe, by backlighting the note with bright light. Four additional "sawtooth" elements can be seen along the note's sides. This "sawtooth" elements are paired with unprinted sections on the observe.

Notably exposing the reverse to ultraviolet (UV) light, cause it to glow blue. Doing so will also expose a hidden security thread. The security thread aligns with the letter "B", in the word "Bissau" (header). It shines florescent yellow making it fairly recognizable.


The observe features 1st Prime Minister Francisco Mendes (1939-1978), also known as Chico Té. He abandon university to join the PAIGC revolution, becoming a commissar (political officer). After PAIGC's victory against Portugal, in 1974. Chico Té became Prime Minister, leading a four year program of national reconciliation. On 7 July 1978, he died in a suspicious car crash.

The header reads, the (trans.) "Central Bank of Guinea-Bissau". Below is the note's tapered serial number (CC375971) and "Five Hundred Pesos" face value. Below the word "Quinhentos" is the note's "1 March 1990" print date. Followed by a pair of signatures, representing the Bank Governor and Vice Governor. The footer lists the printer as "Thomas De La Rue Company, Limited".

Moving to the left is an illustration of a pair of wooden idols. At the far left is a sequence of five number "500"s. The underprint below them features micro text, it repeats "BANCO CENTRAL DA GUINE-BISSAU", in sequence.

An additional number "500" can be be seen at the upper-right corner. While below is the Guinea-Bissau Coat of Arms. The beforementioned "flame" registration element can be seen above it. Just as the far left, the underprint repeats (trans.) "Central Bank of Guinea-Bissau" in sequence.

Notably UV light will cause the note to glow blue. The center of the note (with exception of light blue a zigzag) will glow florescent yellow. The serial number has it's own UV sensitive ink and can be made out. Exposure and age may cause the number to fade, making it easier to spot.

Ultraviolet Gallery

Guinea-Bissau Peso Gallery

(Gallery contains all banknotes of the 1990 Guinea-Bissau Peso)


Additional Notes

  • This note's dimensions are 132 x 65 mm or 5.20 x 2.56 in, smaller than a US Dollar.

  • The preferable method to preserve this note are standard size protective sleeves.

  • The Paraguayan Guaraní ISO code is PGY, it uses as its official symbol.

  • In theory, the Guaraní is subdivided into 100 Céntimos, modern coins are in Guaraní values.

  • The CFA is a French institution which provides monetary services for France's former African colonies, via the French treasury.

  • The West African CFA Franc is the currency of 8 nations: Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo.

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