On May 17, just a few weeks after Switzerland’s 50-franc note, the
first in a new series, won the coveted International Banknote Society
Banknote of the Year Award, the Swiss National Bank began issuing the
series’ 20-franc note. It is the second of six denominations in the
The theme of the new series is “The Many Facets of Switzerland.”
Each denomination depicts a typical Swiss characteristic through the
“primary elements” of a hand and a globe. The 50-franc note portrays
the country’s wealth of experiences as expressed by the wind. The
focus of the red 20-franc note is Swiss creativity as revealed by the
central motif of light.
Last minted in 1909, Indian Head cent still a
Our first monthly issue of the summer is rich with Indian Head cent
insights, along with 'State quarters' for world coin collectors — a
As the Swiss National Bank describes it, the hand on the face of
the 20-franc note holds a prism through which light is dispersed into
various colors. On the globe, the light theme is reflected in the
superimposed constellation map. Background line structures on the face
are reminiscent of a kaleidoscope’s patterns, produced by reflected light.
The scene on the back is said to be a film festival that represents
Switzerland’s creative and cultural scene. Light plays an important
role here, too. By projecting it onto a screen, a kind of second,
“artificial” world is created. A butterfly, with its scale-covered
wings that diffract light into iridescent colors, symbolizes the
diversity of colors and shapes in nature.
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At 70 by 130 millimeters, the new issue is slightly smaller than its
predecessor and has 15 anti-counterfeiting features. Five of these
were described by Thomas Wiedmer of the bank’s governing board at a
Globe test: Tilt the note from left to right and a violet arc moves
across the globe. Now hold the note in front of you and tilt it
backwards: the color of the globe changes.
Security strip test: Tilt the note from left to right. Red and green
numbers appear on four lines and the numbers on these lines move in
opposite directions. When looking directly at the note, you see a map,
in silver, of Switzerland, circular elements representing night-time
light emissions, the distances between various celestial bodies and
the earth listed in light seconds, and the number 20. When the note is
tilted backwards, the outline of Switzerland and the night-time light
emissions appear in rainbow colors. In addition, small shining Swiss
crosses are visible inside the number 20.
Cross test: Hold the note up to the light and look at the
transparent Swiss cross — it turns into the Swiss flag.
Triangle test: Below the number 20 on the back is a triangle with a
glittery security thread. Hold the note up to the light and the
security thread appears as a continuous line. The Swiss flag and the
number 20 also appear at regular intervals along the thread.
Hand test: Run your fingers over the hand, the number 20 or the
bank’s name and you can feel the raised print. If any of these three
elements are rubbed onto a piece of light-colored paper, they leave
behind traces of color. The bill is made of Durasafe — two outer
layers made of cotton paper with an inner layer of polymer.
The next denomination, the 10-franc note, will be issued on Oct. 18,
2017. The entire series is scheduled to be completed by 2019. The
current eighth series will remain legal tender until further notice