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Guardian of the Gran Charco, A War Against All Odds: 1 Guaraní (Paraguay, 1963)-Article

Updated: Mar 14, 2022

This Paraguayan banknote represents the 1st denomination (2nd Variant) of the Guaraní (Series 1963). The Guaraní currency is unique to Paraguay, it receives it's name from the native Guaraní people. It was adopted on 5 October 1943, replacing the Paraguayan Peso. The exchange rate was set at 100 Peso to 1 Guaraní.

From the period of 1960 to 1985, the Guaraní was pegged to the US Dollar. The rate was an unusual 126 Guaraní to 1 US Dollar. Currencies are often pegged, by rates divisible by units of 5s and 10s. Or occasional at par (1:1), in which both are equal in value. Since de-pegging inflation has continued to steadily rise, on a yearly basis.


The observe depicts a soldier, from the Chaco War (1932–1935). The nearby title simply reads, the (trans.) "Paraguayan Soldier". He wields a machete and a Model 1909 Argentine Mauser rifle. The machete was used to cut through brush of the arid Gran Chaco. While the rifle were covertly supplied to, battle the Bolivians. Notably the "Paraguayan Soldier" continues to appear on Guaraní notes.

Above the note's header reads, the (trans.) "Central Bank of Paraguay". The subtext below is read together with the center text. It translates to "The Central Bank of Paraguay recognizes this note for-One Guaraní". Further below are a pair of signatures, representing the Bank Manager (left) and President (right).

Between these signatures and the note's footer, is a long notification. It translates to "This banknote has legal tender and unlimited payment status across the territory of the republic (Decree-law number 18, of 25 March 1952)". The footer lists the note's printer as, "Thomas De La Rue & Company, Limited". Which is a world renowned security printer, based in London (UK).

Moving to the note's left, is the Paraguay Coat of Arms (1842-1990 version). It rests on a pair of overlapping guilloché backing. Below it is one of the note's dual serial numbers (A8682034), the second is below the Paraguay Soldier.

The note's border uses a typical guilloché design. Each of it's corners features a number "1", representing the note's beforementioned Five Guaraní value. The sides read "Un" (One) in vertical text. Notably some modern Guaraní notes continue to use this design. Usually note's are based older designs, which have been modernized.

Additionally this note's utilizes ultraviolet (UV) sensitive ink. Exposing the note to UV light cause the note to glow deep blue. The beforementioned security thread will glow a lighter shade, making it easier to spot. It aligns with part of a ring of ten number "1"s, they grow florescent yellow. Old age has caused some of the numbers to loose their glow.

The notes surface feature some blue iridescent fibers.


The reverse features an illustration of the Palacio Legislativo (Legislative Palace), in Asunción. The building depicted currently serves as the façade for the modern legislative building. Since it's completion by Jesuits missionaries in 1596, it has served numerous purposes. Which include a seminary, an army barracks, and as a military school. Since 1972, it has also served as a museum.

Above the note's header reads, the (trans.) "Central Bank of Paraguay". While below list the note's "One Guarani" value. Which is reinforced by a pair large number "1", flanking the Legislative Palace. They lay on decorative guilloché backings, one light (left) and dark (right). Additional numbers "1"s can be seen on the note's corners.

Just as the observe, the footer reads "Thomas De La Rue & Company, Limited".

The Chaco War

A Paraguayan Soldier depicted on the 1 Guaraní (1963).
Paraguayan Soldier

The Chaco War was conflict fought between Paraguay and Bolivar, from 1932-1935. It began on 15 June 1932, with a Bolivian capture and burning of Fort Carlos Antonio López, at Pitiantutá Lake. Despite orders by Bolivian President Daniel Salamanca (1869-1935), to avoid provocations in the Gran Chaco. Which was recently found to contain oil deposits.

The Gran Chaco is an arid region of robust trees, shrubs, and grasslands. For this the war is also known as the La Guerra de la Sed ("The War of Thirst"). Troops on both sides often carried machetes, to cut through the dense brush. The conflict was also among deadliest in 20th Century South America. Leading to the near economic collapse of two of the continents poorest nations.

In an ironic twist, Paraguay gained nearly 2/3rd of the disputed territory after the war. Despite the Bolivian Army being larger and better armed. Employing imported British Vickers 6-ton light tanks, aircraft and German MP-28 submachine guns. With support from German military advisors.

Paraguay overcame this, by clandestine arms shipments and improvising. Leading to the Paraguayan Army using a mix of equipment. Although copies of the Mauser Model 1909 and the carumbe'i (little turtle) were locally produced. French military advisors originally intended to supply Potez 25 biplanes. Although one plane was lost after falling overboard, during shipping.

The French advisors trained indigenous Quechua and Aymara, providing Paraguay an advantage. As they were accustomed to the environment and require minimal supplies. They were often used for scouting and attacking Bolivian supply lines. Additionally Paraguay had a superior rail network, thus often avoiding similar supply issues.

A ceasefire was finally negotiated 10 June 1935. By then the conflict was seen as senseless, costing Paraguay 3% and Bolivia 2% of their populations. Unfortunately it took 77 years to discover commercially viable oil and natural gas fields, in the Gran Chaco. The war end lead to the overthrow of Bolivian President Salamanca. Who was originally trying to avoid war with Paraguay.

Ultraviolet Gallery


Additional Notes

  • This note's dimensions are 157 x 67 mm or 6.18 x 2.64 in, wider than a US Dollar.

  • The preferable method to preserve this note are large protective sleeves, cut to size.

  • Using top-opening sleeves (standard size) will leave a small part of the note uncovered.

  • 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 last Céntimo coins were issued in 1953, raising inflation lead to their retirement.

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