National Bank of Serbia
Coins and Banknotes

Personalities Featured on Dinar Banknotes in Circulation


VUK STEFANOVIC KARADZICIn the time when Vuk Karadžic was born, Serbia was ruled by the Ottoman Turks, and the efforts to preserve autochthonous culturewere conducted in the monasteries, where religious and historical books have been kept and in villages where oral traditional literature has been passed on from generation to generation. Recognizing his son’s enthusiasm for a written word, Vuk’s father enrolled him in a school in Loznica, where he spent a short amount of time due to the plague epidemic. He was not able to complete his education in the monastery Tronosa in Sremski Karlovci with the poet and monk Lukijan Musicki, or in the Belgrade Great School, due to poor health. The fact that he was literate, made him stand out from all the rest, so he has ended up among the rebels due to his abilities, and later on in the Governing Council, where he worked as a clerk and informed Europe on what was going on in Serbia

The fact that at that time in Serbia three different scripts:  Russian Slavonic,  Church Slavonic and folk or common language compelled him come up with the idea to simplify the language by establishing the rule: “Write as you speak, read as it is written”. He succeeded in his goal, getting rid of 13 unnecessary letters and introducing 6 new ones. His long work in collecting  traditional poetry resulted in the publishing of the collection “Small common folk traditional Slavic Serbian collection of poems”. In the same year, 1814 , he released the first grammar book of the Serbian language under the name “Grammar of the Serbian language written according to the speech of common people”. With his biggest work “Serbian Dictionary” of incredible value to the advancement of Serbian culture and literature, he established a basis of literary language and introduced it to the people. Thanks to his friendship with Jernej Kopitar, a lector for Slavic languages in Vienna, he met many noteworthy linguists and writers among which is the greatest German poet of that time, Goethe and the influential writer Jacob Grimm.

Vuk’s work has been rewarded with a silver medal of the Empyreal Russian Academy, in spite of the resistance to the language reform that groups of people from religious and civil circles in Serbia offered. The real acknowledgement of his achieved goal is the beginning of publishing works from famous writers in the national language, which began being used officially in schools four years after his death. He died in Vienna in 1864, and his remains have been transferred to Serbia and today they are buried in the Cathedral Church in Belgrade.

“Vuk’s Sabor”, the oldest traditional event in our area, is held annually in Trsic, Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic’s birthplace.


PETAR PETROVIC NJEGOSA Serbian writer, religious and secular leader of Montenegro. Petar Petrovic Njegos represents an extremely important and rather outstanding figure in the political and cultural history of this region.

He was born 13 November 1813 in Njegus. He was first educated in Herceg Novi and then in Cetinje. Both as a bishop and prince, Njegos immediately set to reorganize and modernize Montenegro as a State by seeking to eliminate tribal barriers, traditional customs and fiefdom mentality. He was committed to strengthening the central authority, abolished Venetian-imposed Governors and set up the Senate, comprised of the members of the most prestigious families as the highest executive power. He also introduced taxes, organized the military, police, education and judiciary system. He was working towards establishing precisely the country’s borders towards Turkey and Austria, an effort in which he succeeded partially. He was maintaining connections with Russia and traveled there twice, in addition to Vienna and Italy. He died at the age of 38 in Cetinje on 31 October 1851. According to his wishes he was buried on a nearby Mount Lovcen.

Although as a writer, poet and ruler of Montenegro he has been confined to the tragic internal circumstances that determined his personal fate and that of his people, he proved to be a greater writer and philosopher than a bishop and a prince. His literary works surpassed all temporary divisions and virtually become a literary synthesis; philosophical poem the “Light of Microcosm” (1845), the “False Tsar Stephen the Little” (1851) and especially his epic poem “Mountain Wreath” (1847) not only demonstrated the enormous linguistic potential and the power of folk art on which Njegos relied, but by its poetic spirituality and suggestive form revealed deeper roots of national and human concerns in general.


STEVAN STOJANOVIC MOKRANJAC (50 DINARS)Stevan Stojanovic Mokranjac (born 1856 in Negotin, died 1914 in Skopje) by his works contributed to the creation of the term and style of national musical art. The musical education he obtained at prestigious schools in Munich, Rome, and Leipzig enabled him to formulate his own relationship to folk music which gradually matured as he was collecting folk tunes which inspired his own compositions. By combining romanticism with budding realism in the Serbian music, he composed choir compositions called “Rukoveti” (“Song Wreaths”) where folklore and the artist’s own creations intertwine.

He got familiar to the choir singing as a boy performing in a church choir. He later studied choir singing and became a serious composer of spiritual music. As an artist, he demonstrated originality in the following works: Ode to the Mother of God, Cherubic Hymn, We praise thee, God and especially in Liturgy F-Minor.

According to his contemporaries, the attitude of this artist to the society in which he lived in was often to the detriment of his work. He was a teacher in the First Belgrade Gymnasium and taught choir singing at the Divinity College. He also wrote his first folklore studies. He is a founder of musical science in our country and contributed to the establishment of the First String Quartet and the Belgrade Singing Society, whose conductor he was. He shall be remembered as a founder, professor and principal of the first music school in Serbia.

In memory of Stevan Stojanovic Mokranjac, his native Negotin every year hosts traditional musical event called “Days of Mokranjac”.


NIKOLA TESLA (100 DINARS)Nikola Tesla is considered as one of the extraordinary people who have directed humanity’s path to the future with the greatness of their creative thought and overall achievements. Most people are able to say at least something about the scientific work of this genius creator, scientist, researcher, engineer and visionary of Serbian heritage whose works have changed the world and significantly contributed to the advancement and speedy progress of humanity.

Nikola Tesla was born on 10 July 1856 in Smiljan, Lika, the border area of what was then Austro-Hungary. His expressed interest in technical sciences from his earliest youth has brought him to study natural sciences in Graz, and afterwards in Prague. He worked as an engineer in Budapest, and later on in Edison’s company in Paris and New York. Already in 1885 Tesla established his own company, and from 1887 to 1890 he reported his most notable patents from the areas of multi-phase alternate currents, generators and engines. Shortly after, a collaboration with Westinghouse followed, resulting in financing the construction of the first electric power plant using multi-phase alternate current on the Niagara Falls. Tesla has remained loyal to his research up until his death on 7 January 1943 in New York.

Tesla’s works, and most of all discoveries of induction engine and multi-phase system of alternate currents, which have uncovered wide range of possibilities for production, transfer and use of electric energy, remain today as cornerstones for the development of temporary civilization and their creator is considered as one of the greatest inventors. The scientific public has granted him his greatest acknowledgement when they decided that the measuring unit for magnetic induction get the name ‘tesla’. That is how Tesla was added among the names of the great scientists like Volt, Amper, Faraday, Herz, Kelvin and others.

Often perceived as a man out of his time or a man for all time, Tesla discovered and presented people with energy and power that they have not been exposed to until then. The words of the American researcher Armstrong speak best of Tesla’s scientific contribution: “I believe that the world will wait long time for a progress and imagination equal to Tesla’s”.

Tesla’s estate has been moved to Belgrade and is being kept at the Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade. It has been entered in the UNESCO register “Memory of the World” and thus became a part of the world cultural heritage.


 NADEZDA PETROVIC (200 DINARS) Nadezda Petrovic is certainly one of the most important figures in the Serbian art at the beginning of the 20th century. Although a huge body of her work represents the highest peaks in the Serbian and Yugoslav art, her paintings were unappreciated and even challenged at the time she lived in. This is a burden that she had to endure for introducing elements of modernism in the Serbian art. Maybe because she was painting at the time when impressionism was the prevalent style, in her lifetime she was considered as belonging to it. It was only since her first retrospective exhibition in 1938, that her works were labeled as expressionism or rather fauvism which resolutely shifted plastic expression from academism to impressionism and further from impressionism to artistic styles of later-day epochs.

She was born in Cacak on 12 October 1873 and brought up in a family that appreciated art. Even as a pupil of the Girls’ High School she took classes in the studio run by Djordje Krstic and later joined the Serbian School of Drawing and Painting with Kiril Kutlik. She continued her education in Munich with Anton Azbe and Julius Ekster where she mastered tempera technical skill, the medium in which her first vivid color landscapes were made.

Upon return to Serbia in 1904, she participated in the preparations for the first Yugoslav exhibition where she presented her first painting - “Harvest”. She is the founder and the first secretary of the “Circle of Serbian Sisters”, one of the founders of the Society of Serbian Artists, “Lada” and of the “First Serbian Colony”. She found inspiration for her work traveling across Serbia which resulted in paintings: “Resnik”, “Girls from Sicevo”, “Boatmen at the Sava” and “Old Belgrade Cemetery”. She wrote the first art reviews in Serbia and essays on exhibitions of contemporary European art. Two years spent in Paris will leave a trace on her palette while thematically in this phase she focused on Boulogne Forest and Notre Dame Cathedral.

She returned to Serbia with the start of the Balkan wars and served as a nurse in the Supreme Command. This is when she painted her last works. “The Tents of the Valjevo Hospital” was made as she was battling a disease that took many lives during the war. She died on 3 April 1915.

Art Gallery – Nadezda Petrovic – Cacak, established in 1961, regularly organizes a Memorial of Nadezda Petrovic, a painters’ bi-annual event and from time to time other exhibitions as well.


JOVAN CVIJIC (500 DINARS)Jovan Cvijic is one of our most prominent scientists. A versatile figure, he was primarily geo-morphologist and founder of anthropological geography. In addition, he was studying natural, historical, social, economic and even ethno-psychological processes and phenomena.

He was born on 12 October 1865 in Loznica. His interest in scientific work started back at the Great School of Belgrade and continued throughout his professorship in the Second Belgrade Gymnasium. He studied physical geography and geology in Vienna, specializing in the karst in Serbia, Istria and Adriatic. As a result, he published many scientific works and doctoral dissertation “The Karst” published in our language as well. In March 1893, he became regular professor at the Great School teaching physical geography and ethnology. He founded Geographical Institute in which the Serbian Geographic Society started to function in 1910. He was a rector of the University of Belgrade twice. During the First World War he lived in Switzerland and then in France where he was invited to teach at the Sorbonne. After the war, he returned to the country and resumed his work at the university. He died on 16 January 1927 in Belgrade. He bequeathed his property to the “Serbian Geographic Society” whose president he was.

In his thirty year-long and intensive scientific work, he published many major works. The most important one is “The Balkan Peninsula” published in Paris in 1918 (“La Peninsule Balkanique”) emphasizing human role in geography especially in terms of migrations, economy and settlements. In 1895 he became an associate member of the Serbian Royal Academy of Science and its president in 1921, the position he will hold until the end of his life. He was an honorary member of many geographical, biological and other societies around the world and an honorary doctor at the Sorbonne and the Prague University. As an internationally recognized scientist he received many prestigious awards for his work.

“Every effort was made to appropriately recognize the work of this important scientist. It is placed in the hands of our people to learn more of the magnitude of Cvijic’s spirit and his observer’s gift so that we can learn from our great son how to be good observers ourselves”, wrote Jovan Erdeljanovic in a preface to the book “The Balkan Peninsula”.

In the family home of Jovan Cvijic in Belgrade, which was proclaimed a monument of culture in 1963, there is a memorial museum, with photographs, geographic maps, notebooks and books collected jointly by the Museum of Jadro and the Museum of the City of Belgrade.


DJORDJE VAJFERT (1,000 DINARS) A famous industrialist of his time, ore explorer and mine founder, a renowned and successful banker, donor and art collector, Djordje Vajfert is an unavoidable figure in the business life of Serbia in the end of the 19th century and first decades of the 20th century.

He was born on 15 June 1850 in Pancevo into a famous beer-brewing family. His ancestors came to Pancevo from Germany with the armies of Eugenio of Savoy. He completed Advanced Brewery School in Bavaria. At a rather young age, he took over his father’s brewery in today’s Topcider section of Belgrade and upgraded it to the first steam-powered brewery which is operating to the present day. His adventurous spirit led him to invest all the profit in the exploration and exploitation of ore deposits in Serbia. He was the owner of several mines, a brown coal mine near Kostolac, copper mine in Bor, a mercury mine on Mt. Avala. Thanks to his mining and exploration effort, he is considered the founder of modern mining industry in Serbia.

As the most famous Governor of the National Bank, Djordje Vajfert was also the one with the longest mandate and the one who made the greatest contribution to this institution. He was its Governor twice, from 1890-1902 and from 1912-1926 when he was appointed an honorary governor for life. Since the very beginning at the helm of the National Bank of Serbia he managed to maintain the value of dinar and facilitate loan deals in Serbia. In the First World War, he was managing Serbian central bank from Marseilles, preserved this institution as well as its basic functions and most of its assets. After the war, he helped to transform the National Bank of Serbia into the bank of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and to replace crowns into dinars.

He used to be rich and poor during his lifetime but never separated from his people. He was a great philanthropist and donor. He built churches in Pancevo, the Women’s Hospital in Belgrade, many schools, infirmaries, workers’ quarters and gave real estate to charity. A generous benefactor to cultural and humanitarian institutions, he left a large collection of paintings to the Museum of Belgrade and a valuable numismatic collection of 14,000 coins to the Belgrade University.

He died in 1937 in Belgrade, at the age of 87. Although there were richer people in Serbia than Vajfert hardly any of them could match his entrepreneurial spirit capable of making money and investing it in new businesses.


MILUTIN MILANKOVIC (2,000 DINARS) Milutin Milanković ultimately gained worldwide prominence in 1976, after results confirming the accuracy of his calculations were published. The number of scientific papers applying his theory of interpretation of climate changes in the Earth’s geological history has been growing ever since and Milanković became one of the most cited scientists.

Milutin Milanković (born in 1879 in Dalj, the then Austrian empire, died in Belgrade in 1958), a civil engineer, academic, professor at the Belgrade University, Vice-President of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, the scientist who explained the occurrence of ice ages in mathematical terms, the creator of the new methodology in climatology, the author of the most precise astronomical calendar was recognised as one of the great names in the 20th century science. The first Serb to earn a PhD in technical sciences (in Vienna in 1903), when invited by the Serbian Government in 1909, Milanković, like many other Serbian intellectuals scattered around the world, motivated by deep patriotism, gave up a highly remunerative civil engineering job in Vienna and came to Belgrade to teach applied mechanics at the University.

This scientific genius, whom NASA ranked among the ten most important Earth scientists, summed up all his endeavours in the capital work “Canon of Insolation of the Earth and the Ice-Age Problem”. His astronomical theory of Earth climate changes that is being confirmed today across all meridians clarified the mystery of ice ages on our planet. The term “Milanković’s cycles” recognized in today’s science refers to the great idea of cosmic harmony to which Milankovic was full-heartedly dedicated. Some of the toponyms on the Moon and Mars bear his name, as well as the climatology and meteorology award of the European Geophysical Society, established in 1993. 

The 130th anniversary of the birth of this great scientist was marked in 2009. The fact that UNESCO included this jubilee in its anniversary list is yet another confirmation of the significance of Milanković’s work. In contrast to the increasing references to Milanković’s work in scientific debates around the world, he was almost forgotten in Serbia and remains insufficiently known among general public even today. By featuring Milutin Milanković’s portrait on the 2000 dinar banknote, one of the series of banknotes currently in circulation, the National Bank of Serbia, in its best practice, wishes to draw the attention of the general public to the importance of Milutin Milanković, one of the world’s leading astronomers and climatologists.  


SLOBODAN JOVANOVIC (5,000 DINARS) The works of Slobodan Jovanovic left an indelible trace in the Serbian science and culture. According to their size and nature, they are multi-disciplinary and encompass law, history, politics, sociology and literature. Constitutional law was in the focus of his scientific work while his major historic works were dealing with political, constitutional and diplomatic development of Serbia in the second half of the 19th century.

He was born on 3 December 1869 in Novi Sad. He was educated and matured in the last two decades of the 19th century at a time of national romanticism and trust in the enlightenment, science and progress which largely impacted his work. He graduated law in Geneva and continued legal studies in Paris. Slobodan Jovanovic was teaching constitutional law at the Law School for 43 years. He was also a rector of the Belgrade University, a full member of the Serbian Academy of Science and its president in the period from 1928-1931. At the Paris peace conference in 1919, he was a member of the Yugoslav delegation. In 1936, he was elected President of the Serbian Cultural Club. From 1942 - 1943 Slobodan Jovanovic was Prime Minister of the Yugoslav Government in exile which is why he was tried in absence in 1946. He was stripped of his citizenship and his property was confiscated. Since 1941, he has lived in London and died there on 12 December 1958, in an imposed exile.

He was extremely active throughout his life. His major works include: “On the Sovereignty”; “Fundamentals of the State legal theory”, “English Parliamentarism”; “History of Political Doctrines”; “Political and legal debates”; “Constitutional Law of the Kingdom of Serbia”. He was an honorary or associate member of many foreign scientific and literary institutions. Slobodan Jovanovic is one of our most outstanding politicians and statesmen of the 20th century - a historian, writer, philosopher, diplomat and our most distinguished legal theorist.

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