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Swiss banknotes - made by Orell Fussli Security Printing Ltd

The current series of Swiss banknotes
The notes in the current series were put into circulation between 1995 and 1998.

Banknotes in circulation
In 2003 the Swiss National Bank (SNB) put 120 million new notes with a nominal value of CHF 8.6 billion into circulation. At the same time it destroyed 115.2 damaged or recalled notes with a total nominal value of CHF 9 billion.

In 2007 there was an average of 291 million notes in circulation (approx. 39 billion CHF).

The number of notes per denomination was as follows:

Number of notes per denomination (Source SNB 2007)

CHF/ Number

1000 / 21'561'665
200 / 29'565'267
100 / 76'196'582
50 / 35'944'076
20 / 66'436'980
10 / 61'974'691

Total: 291'978'762

Average life of a banknote (Source SNB 2003)
The average life of a banknote varies depending on its size. Larger notes tend to have a greater life expectancy than small ones. Among Swiss banknotes, the 20-franc note has the shortest life of just over a year, closely followed by the 50-franc note with 1.5 years. The 10-franc note has an average lifespan of 2 years, and the 100-franc note survives for just over 2 years. 200-franc notes last for almost 3 years, and 1000-franc notes for more than 6 years.

Money can be beautiful, but it has to be secure
Swiss banknotes traditionally have to meet the highest standards of security, artistic design and functionality. This means that like a map they represent a fascinating symbiosis of aesthetics and sophisticated technology.

Three types of challenge have to be met when designing a series of banknotes.

Firstly, the note has to fulfil the security requirements. When in use, its security features should make it easy to recognize, and make forgeries easy to identify. These features thus have to be of a high standard. They must be difficult to forge. Owing to the rapid development of reproduction technology, it is essential to keep introducing new security features and if necessary to "re-arm" the notes with new security features during their time in circulation, which tends to be a period of more than 15 years.

Secondly, the banknotes have to fulfil the practical requirements of an item that is in daily use. They have to be easy to handle and easy to distinguish from one another. They must also be able to stand up to wear and tear and be available in practical denominations.

Thirdly, banknotes have to satisfy high aesthetic demands. They are a "visiting card" for their country and represent that country’s achievements, values, stability and vision for the future. Banknote designers thus face the challenge of creatively combining artistic value with the requirements of everyday use and high security.