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It seems fitting that Switzerland has a theme for its newest bank notes. Gone are the serious-looking, allegedly famous men. And in are a series of notes titled “The many facets of Switzerland.” For the ninth time in our monetary history, Switzerland’s bank notes are being replaced.

Up until now only the 50, 20 and 10 franc notes have been replaced. Check your wallet. If you have any of these bills, take them out and look at the hand, globe, background and fine print. Can you figure out the themes?

New Swiss Bills

The CHF 50 note was the first to be released. The new bill was stunning with its bright colors. However, it got off to a bumpy start when ink began wearing off as the bills were folded. But once that problem was handled, the old fifties were off the street within two weeks.

The motif is wind. Dandelion seeds are blowing and arrows depicting air currents and the earth’s predominant winds are illustrated. The bottom security strip, barely legible with the naked eye, lists all the 4,000 meter Swiss peaks. On the back, you see a para-glider in the Alps with lines depicting altitude. Now hold it up to light and see what else is visible. Then close your eyes and gently touch the bill, sliding your fingers around.

Twenty franc billNow look at the CHF 20. Light is this bill’s motif. You see a large prism with light shining through. The background consists of small prisms and the globe is surrounded by our constellations. The bottom security strip shows Switzerland’s nighttime, light footprint from outer space and a list of the distances in light seconds between celestial bodies.  On the back are butterflies whose wings in nature are covered with thousands of scales reflecting light in different colors, a movie screen (where-on light is shown for entertainment) and the iris of our eye which regulates the amount of light we see.

Ten franc billThe CHF 10 bill is slowly being replaced. My son believes this is because unlike the other bills, you can’t retrieve CHF10 from the cash machine. Consequently, old ten francers continue to be passed around from hand to hand.

The ten franc note’s motif is time. There’s a music conductor, small clocks in the background, the Earth’s time zones and in the lower security strip the Swiss train network and a list of our longest tunnels. On the back are Switzerland’s famous watch parts, lines depicting the train network and a large tunnel.

These most recent and technologically advanced monetary notes contain dozens of impressive security features. The following 7 minute video explains all of these fine details from looking with ultraviolet and infrared lights to raised wrinkles and lots of Swiss flags. Alternatively the SNB designed a fun interactive app called Swiss Banknotes for both Android and Apple devices. Both are worth your time to download and look at.


Wind, Light and Time have been appropriately illustrated. What do you expect the themes to be for the CHF 100, CHF 200 and CHF 1,000 notes?

We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland. If you would like to learn more about our activities and excursions, visit our website at http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/