Rubén Darío, Father Of Modernismo: 500 Cordobas (Nicaragua, 1985)-Article

Updated: Mar 13

This Nicaraguan banknote represents the 5th denomination of the First Cordoba (Series 1985). The Series 1985 was preceded by Series E, F, and G notes. The first which was introduced in 1979, after the FSLN (Sandinistas) overthrew the Somoza regime. These post-Somoza notes features a less classical modernist design, although continued to use color coding.

Some notes of the 1985 First Cordoba were reissued as the Second Córdoba Overprint. These notes feature stamps, which revalue the note's original face value. The circulated alongside regular Second Córdoba notes, which lacked overprinted stamps.


The observe features a portrait of renowned Nicaraguan poet Reuben Dario (1867-1916), founder of the Spanish-American “modernismo” (modernism) literary movement. To the lower left of the portrait, is the title "Reuben Dario". A watermark of Dario appears opposite of the portrait. A watermark of Augusto Sandino appears opposite of the portrait.

The note's header reads the (trans.) "Central Bank of Nicaragua", it rests above intricate "tiled" patterns. Below the word "Banco" is the note's serial number "FB 3925977". Notably this header serial number is the first of a dual-serial. The second serial number being located on the note's footer, on the lower right.

Moving towards the note's center, its Spanish text reads (trans), "500 Five Hundred Cordobas". It rests on a decorative guilloché patterns. Notably this denomination was not reissued as a the Second Córdoba Overprint note. Those notes feature a overprinted stamp, at their center. Which begins slightly above this note's "1985" print date.

Additional number "500"s can be seen on the note's corners, resting on decorative guilloché backings.

Notes reissued as Second Córdoba Overprints have these numbers are stamped over. This opposed to the notes of the First Córdoba Overprint, which features "BCN" stamps instead.

Moving to the footer, there are 2 separate signatures. They are the (trans.) "Central Bank President" and the "Minister of Finance". If one closely inspects the footer they will notice microprint. In addition to the footer "cloth" pattern, is the underprint's "stucco" pattern. The watermark area also features microprint, in the form of angled lines.

While not present on this note, this note was printed by Thomas De La Rue, London. As most First Cordoba notes, with the exception of Series 1985. Feature the text "Thomas De La Rue And Company Limited", at their lower left. While this text has been simply omitted from the Series 1985 notes, the overall design remains the same.

When unmarked, De La Rue notes of the era can be recognized by some key visual features. Such as dual serial numbers, similar text layouts, false textured underprints, and seamless color transitions. The later requires a degree of skill, beyond the level of most counterfeiters. More often then not, this can be used for general identification. Such examples being the 1973 South Vietnamese 500 Dong.


The reverse depicts a classroom of adult students, learning Spanish grammar. The title below reads, (trans.) "National Literacy Campaign". Reducing illiteracy particularly in rural Nicaragua, was goal of the FSLN government. The first literacy campaign took place from 3 March-23 August 1980. It took inspiration from the earlier Cuban National Literacy Campaign (1960-1961).

Just as observe the header reads the "Central Bank of Nicaragua". Below is a pair of patterns, similar to the observe. These complementary patterns form the note's registration element. Each side has a unprinted negative and printed positive. When placed over bright light, each side's positive fill these gaps, completing the light puzzle effect.

The reminder of note's feature some additional features. The cotton plant to the far left, represents cash crops. Which the protesting peasant farmers grow on the land of wealthy landowners. Below them is the text (trans.) "Five Hundred Cordobas". Which is repeated the number "5000"s at the notes center-right and corners. All which lay on various styles of decorative backings.


Additional Notes

  • This note size is 155 x 74 mm or 6.10 x 2.56 in, slightly thinner than a US Dollar.

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

  • The First Cordoba ISO 4217 code was NIO, it uses C$ as its official symbol.

  • The Second Cordoba was the only Cordoba variant to use a different ISO code.

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