It’s the dream of anyone who is exploring an old house: finding wads of banknotes stuffed away in hiding places. That’s exactly what happened to Toño Piñeiro when he was restoring a property he had purchased in his native Sober, a municipality in Galicia’s Lugo province. But there was a sting in the tail: more than half of the pesetas he dug out, contained in Nesquik bottles, are all but worthless today.
Piñeiro, who lives in Valencia and works in construction, has located some nine million pesetas in the house he has been restoring over recent years in the northwestern Spanish region. The banknotes were distributed around the house and stuffed inside six different bottles. That amount of Spain’s former currency would be worth around €54,000 today.
The first two of the finds were, according to local newspaper El Progreso, a cause for celebration for Piñeiro, given that at the time the currency could still be exchanged for euros. But in July 2021, the Bank of Spain’s deadline for handing over any pesetas that people still had squirrelled away expired. Piñeiro has little recourse but to keep the money as a souvenir.
According to Piñeiro, some €24,000 in pesetas will not be able to be exchanged, and he will have to hope that collectors will be willing to fork out for the old notes if he is to make some money from his discovery.
Bank of Spain figures estimate that Spaniards failed to exchange €1.6 billion worth of peseta notes and coins before the deadline last year. The currency was phased out after the introduction of euro banknotes and coins on January 1, 2002. The dual circulation period, when both could be used in the country’s economy, came to an end on February 28 of the same year, meaning that there was a 20-year period to cash in the currency.
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