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Physics on the money

New Swiss banknotes to feature imagery inspired by physics


The Swiss National Bank today released the first of a new series of banknotes, along with tantalising hints of the rest in the series. Among the images released are artistic impressions of particle detectors and collisions. “It is great to see physics making its way onto a banknote to be issued by one of our Host States,” said CERN Director for International Relations, Charlotte Warakaulle.  “It’s a sign of the vital role physics plays in modern society. We are honoured and highly appreciative of the attention paid to science by Switzerland.”

The 50 Franc note issued today is the first of the ninth series of Swiss banknotes, and the first new design since the eighth series was issued in 1995. The remaining denominations will be issued progressively over the coming years. Each note depicts an object related to the relevant key motif. The key motifs of the six notes, which can be seen here, are time, light, wind, water, matter and language. 

Swiss banknotes have a fascinating history. In the19th century, the individual Cantons had the right to print their own notes, and it was not until 1881 that this right was transferred exclusively to the Swiss National Bank. The first series of Swiss banknotes was issued in 1907, with subsequent series being issued in 1911, 1918, 1956, 1976 and 1995. Two reserve series were produced in the 1930s and 1980s, but never circulated.

The ninth series has been designed by Manuela Pfrunder based on the theme, “The many facets of Switzerland”.