Paper Money

Switzerland releases redesigned 20-franc note

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 ninth series. 

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. 

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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 news conference: 

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 

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