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Swiss Franc

The franc (German: Franken, French and Romansh: franc, Italian: franco; code: C
HF) is the currency and legal tender of Switzerland and Liechtenstein; it is also
legal tender in the Italian exclave Campione d'Italia. Although not formally legal
tender in the German exclaveBüsingen (the sole legal currency is the euro), it is
widely used on a day-to-day basis. The Swiss National Bank issues banknotes and
the federal Swiss mint issues coins.

The Swiss franc is the

only version of
the franc still issued in
Europe. The smaller
denomination, a
hundredth of a franc, is a Rappen (Rp.) in German, centime (c.) in
French, centesimo (ct.) in Italian, and rap (rp.) in Romansh. The ISO code of the
currency used by banks and financial institutions is CHF, although "Fr." is used by
most businesses and advertisers; some use SFr.; the Latinate "CHF" denotes
Confoederatio Helvetica franc, because Latin is used as the neutral language
representing the country given its tetralingual populace.


(Before the Helvetic Republic)

Before 1798, about 75 entities were making coins in Switzerland, including the
25 cantons and half-cantons, 16 cities, and abbeys, resulting in about 860 different
coins in circulation, with different values, denominations and monetary systems.

(Franc of the Helvetic Republic, 1798- 1803)

In 1798, the Helvetic Republic introduced a currency based on the Berne thaler,
subdivided into 10 batzen or 100 rappen. The Swiss franc was equal to 6¾ grams
pure silver or 1½ French francs.
This franc was issued until the end of the Helvetic Republic in 1803, but served as
the model for the currencies of several cantons in the re-formed Swiss Confederacy.

(Franc of the Swiss confederation, 1850-)

Although 22 cantons and half-cantons issued coins between 1803 and 1850, less
than 15% of the money in circulation in Switzerland in 1850 was locally produced,
with the rest being foreign, mainly brought back by mercenaries. In addition, some
private banks also started issuing the first banknotes, so that in total, at least 8000
different coins and notes were in circulation at that time, making the monetary
system extremely complicated.

In order to solve this problem, the new Swiss Federal Constitution of 1848 specified
that the Federal Government would be the only entity allowed to make money in
Switzerland. This was followed two years later by the first Federal Coinage Act,
passed by the Federal Assembly on 7 May 1850, which introduced the franc as the
monetary unit of Switzerland. The franc was introduced at par with the French
franc. It replaced the different currencies of the Swiss cantons, some of which had
been using a franc (divided into 10 batzen and 100 rappen) which was worth
1½ French franc.

In 1865, France, Belgium, Italy, and Switzerland formed the Latin Monetary Union,
wherein they agreed to value their national currencies to a standard of 4.5 grams of
silver or 0.290322 grams of gold. Even after the monetary union faded away in the
1920s and officially ended in 1927, the Swiss franc remained on that standard until
1936, when it suffered its sole devaluation, on 27 September during the Great
Depression. The currency was devalued by 30% following the devaluations of
the British pound, U.S. dollar and French franc. In 1945, Switzerland joined
the Bretton Woods system and pegged the franc to the U.S. dollar at a rate of $1 =
4.30521 francs (equivalent to 1 franc = 0.206418 grams of gold). This was changed
to $1 = 4.375 francs (1 franc = 0.203125 grams of gold) in 1949.

The Swiss franc has historically been considered a safe haven currency with
virtually zero inflation and a legal requirement that a minimum of 40% be backed
by gold reserves. However, this link to gold, which dates from the 1920s, was
terminated on 1 May 2000 following a referendum. By March 2005, following a gold
selling program, the Swiss National Bank held 1,290 tonnes of gold in reserves
which equated to 20% of its assets.

(Coins of the Helvetic Republic)

Between 1798 and 1803, billon coins were issued in denominations of 1 rappen, ½
batzen, and 1 batzen. Silver coins were issued for 5, 10, 20 and 40 batzen, with the
40 batzen coin also issued with the denomination given as 4 franken. Gold 16 and
32 franc coins were issued in 1800.

(Coins of the Swiss Confederation)

In 1850, coins were introduced in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, and 20 centimes

and ½, 1, 2, and 5 francs, with the 1 and 2 centimes struck in bronze, the 5, 10,
and 20 centimes in billon, and the franc denominations in .900 fine silver. Between
1860 and 1863, .800 fine silver was used, before the standard used in France of .
835 fineness was adopted for all silver coins except the 5 francs (which remained .
900 fineness) in 1875. In 1879, billon was replaced by cupro-nickel in the 5 and 10
centimes and by nickel in the 20 centimes.

Both world wars only had a small effect on the Swiss coinage, with brass and zinc
coins temporarily being issued. In 1931, the size of the 5 franc coin was reduced
from 25 grams to 15, with the silver content reduced to .835 fineness. The next
year, nickel replaced cupro-nickel in the 5 and 10 centimes.

In the late 1960s, due to their linkage to the devaluing U.S. dollar, the prices of
internationally traded commodities rose significantly. A silver coin's material value
exceeded its monetary value, and many were being sent abroad for melting, which
prompted the federal government to make this practice illegal. The statute was of
little effect, and the melting of francs only subsided when the collectible value of
the remaining francs again exceeded their material value.
The 1 centime coin was still produced until 2006, albeit in ever decreasing
quantities, but it did not play any great role in the monetary economy in the fourth
quarter of the twentieth century (circa 1975 to 2000). People and groups who could
justify the use of 1 centime coins for monetary purposes could obtain them at face
value; any other user (such as collectors) had to pay an additional 4 centimes per
coin to cover the production costs, which had exceeded the actual face value of the
coin for many years. The coin fell into disuse in the late 1970s and early 1980s but
was only officially fully withdrawn from circulation and declared to be no longer
legal tender as of 1 January 2007. The long-forgotten 2 centime coin, not minted
since 1974, was demonetized January 1st, 1978.

The 5 centime coin remains in use, in circulation and still legal tender for the time
being notwithstanding the production cost of 11 centimes per coin. One of the main
reasons why the Confederation cannot discontinue this coin is that it is still used in
the pricing of goods and services, particularly the 85 centime second class stamp.
The Swiss Post is looking into the possibility of a price rise or the elimination of the
second class service, which could ultimately pave the way for the elimination of the
5 centime coin therewith.

The designs of the coins have changed very little since 1879. Among the notable
changes were new designs for the 5 franc coins in 1888, 1922, 1924 (minor) and
1931 (mostly just a size reduction). A new design for the bronze coins was used
from 1948. Coins depicting a ring of stars (such as the 1 franc coin seen beside this
paragraph) were modified from 22 stars to 23 stars in 1983; since the stars
represent the Swiss cantons, it was updated to represent the 1979 expansion of the
Swiss federation, when Jura seceded from the Canton of Bern and became the 23rd

The 10 centime coins from 1879 onwards (except the years 1918-19 and 1932-39)
have the same composition, size and design until now (2009) and are still legal
tender and are found in circulation.

All Swiss coins are language-neutral (at least with respect to Switzerland's four
national languages), featuring only numerals, the abbreviation "Fr." for franc, and
the Latin phrases "Helvetia", "Confœderatio Helvetica" (depending on the
denomination) or the inscription "Libertas" (roman goddess of liberty) on the small
coins. The name of the artist is present on the coins with the standing Helvetia an
the herder.

In addition to these general circulation coins, numerous series of commemorative

coins have been issued, as well as silver and gold coins. These coins are no more
legal tender, but can be exchanged for face value at post offices, and at national
and cantonal banks. Their material or collector's value equals or exceeds their face

(10 Centimes) (1 Franc)

Overview of current Swiss coins

Diameter Thickness Weight

Value Composition Remarks
(mm) (mm) (g)

Aluminium Made in Cupronickel or

5 centimes 17.15 1.25 1.8
bronze pure Nickel until 1980

10 Made in current minting

19.15 1.45 3 Cupronickel
centimes since 1879

21.05 1.65 4 Cupronickel
1/2 franc
(50 18.20 1.25 2.2 Cupronickel In silver until 1967

1 franc 23.20 1.55 4.4 Cupronickel In silver until 1967

2 francs 27.40 2.15 8.8 Cupronickel In silver until 1967

In silver until 1967 and

5 francs 31.45 2.35 13.2 Cupronickel
in 1969


In 1907, the Swiss National Bank took over the issuance of banknotes from the
cantons and various banks. It introduced denominations of 50, 100, 500 and 1000
francs. 20 franc notes were introduced in 1911, followed by 5 franc notes in 1913.
In 1914, the Federal Treasury issued paper money in denominations of 5, 10 and
20 francs. These notes were issued in three different versions: French, German and
Italian. The State Loan Bank also issued 25 franc notes that year. In 1952, the
National Bank ceased issuing 5 franc notes but introduced 10 franc notes in 1955.
In 1996, 200 franc notes were introduced whilst the 500 franc note was

Eight series of banknotes have been printed by the National Bank, six of which have
been released for use by the general public. The sixth series from 1976, designed
by Ernst and Ursula Hiestand, depicted persons from the world of science. It has
been recalled and replaced and will lose any value on 1 May 2020. As of 2006, a
large number of notes from this series have not yet been exchanged, even though
they have not been legal tender for more than 5 years; for example, the value of
those 500 franc banknotes still in circulation represents 167.4 million Swiss francs.
The seventh series was printed in 1984, but kept as a "reserve series", ready to be
used if, for example, wide counterfeiting of the current series suddenly happened.
When the Swiss National Bank decided to develop new security features and to
abandon the concept of a reserve series, the details of the seventh series were
released and the printed notes were destroyed.

The current, eighth series of banknotes was designed by Jörg Zintzmeyer around
the theme of the arts and released starting in 1995. In addition to a new design,
this series was different from the previous one on several counts. Probably the
most important difference from a practical point of view was that the seldom-used
500 franc note was replaced by a new 200 franc note; this new note has indeed
proved more successful than the old 500 franc note. The base colours of the new
notes were kept similar to the old ones, except that the 20 franc note was changed
from blue to red to prevent a frequent confusion with the 100 franc note, and that
the 10 franc note was changed from red to yellow. The size of the notes was
changed as well, with all notes from the 8th series having the same height
(74 mm), while the widths were changed as well, still increasing with the value of
the notes. The new series contains many more security features than the previous
one; many (but not all) of them are now visibly displayed and have been widely
advertised, in contrast with the previous series for which most of the features were
kept secret.

All banknotes are quadrilingual, displaying all information in the four national
languages. The banknotes depicting a Germanophone display German and
Romansch on the same side as his picture, whereas banknotes depicting a
Francophone or an Italophone display French and Italian on the same side as his

When the 5th series lost its validity at the end of April 2000, the banknotes that
had not been exchanged represented a total value of 244.3 million Swiss francs; in
accordance with Swiss law, this amount was transferred to the Swiss Fund for
Emergency Losses in the case of non-insurable natural disasters.

In February 2005, a competition was announced for the design of the 9th series,
planned to be released around 2010 on the theme Switzerland open to the world.
The results were announced in November 2005, but the selected design drew
widespread criticisms from the population.

8th (Current) series of Swiss banknotes

Value Dimensions Main Colour Obverse Date of issue

10 francs 126 × 74 mm Yellow Le Corbusier 8 April 1997

20 francs 137 × 74 mm Red Arthur Honegger 1 October 1996

50 francs 148 × 74 mm Green Sophie Taeuber-Arp 3 October 1995

100 francs 159 × 74 mm Blue Alberto Giacometti 1 October 1998

1000 francs 181 × 74 mm Purple Jacob Burckhardt 1 April 1998

Eighth Series 
Eighth Series 
Ninth Series 

In 2005, the Swiss National Bank held a competition to determine the design
of the next series of banknotes. The competition was won by Manuel Krebs, but his
designs were met with sufficient opposition from the general public as to discourage
the bank from going forward with them. As a result, the ninth series of Swiss franc
banknotes will be based on designs by second place finalist Manuela Pfrunder and is
scheduled to be issued in 2010.
Previous Series

Swiss Banknotes

1st series of Swiss banknotes

Value Dimensions Main Color Description Date of

Obverse Reverse issue withdrawal lapse

50 166 × 103
Green/Yellow Helvetia Ornaments
francs mm

100 183 × 116

20 June 1907
Blue Helvetia Ornaments

1 July 1925

1 July 1945
francs mm

500 199 × 126

Green Helvetia Ornaments
francs mm

1000 215 × 132

Purple Helvetia Ornaments
francs mm

First Series 
First Series 
2nd series of Swiss banknotes

Description Date of
Value Dimensions Main Color
Obverse Reverse issue withdrawal lapse

5 148 × 70 3 August 1 May

Brown/Green William Tell Ornaments 1 May 1980
francs mm 1914 2000

10 135 × 82 Woman
Brown/Yellow Ornaments — — —
francs mm from Neuchâtel

31 1
20 163 × 95 31 July
Blue/purple Vreneli Ornaments December January
francs mm 1914
1935 1956

22 1
50 165 × 106 1 October
Green Woman's head Woodcutter December October
francs mm 1958
1911 1978

16 1
100 181 × 115 1 October
Dark blue Woman's head Reaper September October
francs mm 1958
1911 1978

24 1
500 200 × 125 1 October
Red/Brown Woman's head Embroideres December October
francs mm 1958
1912 1978

16 1
1000 216 × 131 1 October
Purple/Orange Woman's head Foundry September October
francs mm 1958
1911 1978

Second Series 
Second Series 
4th series of Swiss banknotes

Main Date of
Value Dimensions
Color issue
Obverse Reverse

50 francs 167 × 96 mm Green Woman's head Bull

Never issued (reserve series)

100 francs 190 × 106 mm Blue Ornaments
from Haslital

500 francs 210 × 116 mm Brown-red Woman's head Chemistry

228 × 125 mm Purple Woman's head Turbine

*The fourth series of Swiss banknotes was printed in 1938 as a reserve series and
was never issued.

Fourth Series 
Fourth Series 
5th series of Swiss banknotes

Description Date of
Value Dimensions Designer
Obverse Reverse issue withdrawal lapse

10 137 × 75 Red- Gottfried Bennet 1 October

francs mm brown Keller blossoms 1956
20 155 × 85 Guillaume- 29 March
Blue Thistle
francs mm Henri Dufour 1956

50 173 × 95 Apple 14 June

Green Head of a girl
francs mm harvest 1957
1 May
1 May 1980
100 191 × 105 Dark 14 June
Head of a boy St Martin
francs mm blue 1957
500 210 × 115 Brown- Head of a Fountain of 14 June
francs mm red woman Youth 1957

1000 228 × 125 Head of Danse 14 June

francs mm woman Macabre 1957

Fifth Series 
Fifth Series 
6th series of Swiss banknotes
Description Date of
Value Dimensions
Obverse Reverse issue

Water turbine, the solar

10 137 × 66 Leonhard system and a scheme of
Red November
francs mm Euler propagation of rays of light
passing through lenses

20 148 × 70 Mountain range, a group of 4 April
Blue Bénédict de
francs mm alpinists and the Ammonshorn 1979

50 159 × 74 Conrad 4 October

Green Eagle owl, primula, stars
francs mm Gessner 1978

Upper part of the dome-tower

100 170 × 78 Dark Francesco 4 October
as well as the floor plan of the
francs mm blue Borromini 1976
churchSant'Ivo alla Sapienza

Muscular figure of a human

500 181 × 82 Albrecht von body, graph of respiration and 4 April
francs mm Haller the circulation of the blood, 1977
and a purple orchis

1000 192 × 86 Auguste Three ants and a cross-section 4 April

francs mm Forel of an anthill 1978

Sixth Series 
Sixth Series 
7th series of Swiss banknotes
Value Dimensions
Obverse Reverse

Leonhard Euler; development Gamma function; table for the

10 Red-
137 × 66 mm of the polyhedron, calculation of numbers; diagram of
francs brown
the bridges of Königsberg the Solar System

Hair hygrometer, view of the valley

Horace-Bénédict de
20 of Chamonix and the Mont
148 × 70 mm Blue Saussure;quartz
francs Blanc massif; expedition to
crystals; Hornblende beam
the Tacul glacier

Golden Eagle (based on

a woodcut from Gessner's Historiae
Conrad Gessner; branch of
50 animalium); "Metamorphosis of
159 × 74 mm Green adwarf cherry tree; foliage of
francs animals"; Latin text from the
the bush
Historiae Animalium referring to
the seven-headed hydra

Francesco Borromini; Raising of the lantern and the spire

100 Dark architectural motif from of Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza; floor
170 × 78 mm
francs blue the Basilica of St. John plan of San Carlo alle Quattro
Lateran Fontane; dove and olive branch

18th century anatomy plate; x-

Albrecht von
500 ray of the human thorax;
181 × 82 mm Brown Haller;hexagonalstructure of
francs mountains, referring to his poem
the cell; cell tissue
"The Alps"

Head, skeleton and fossil of

1000 Louis Agassiz; structure of
192 × 86 mm Purple a perch; structure of the scales of
francs the surface of a shellfish
a perch; ammonite

*A seventh series of Swiss banknotes has been designed and printed in 1984, in
parallel with the sixth series, but was never released. It formed the reserve series,
to be released, for example, if the current series would suddenly become widely
counterfeited. At first, almost no information was released on the series for security
reasons, except for small fragments. However, after the eighth series was released,
it was decided to improve the security features of the current series rather than
develop a new reserve series. The details of the seventh series were later released,
while the actual banknotes were destroyed.. The designers were Roger
Pfund and Elisabeth Pfund. They had originally won the competition for the design
of the sixth series, but since the Swiss National Bank decided to use the design by
Ernst and Ursula Hiestand instead, the Pfunds were charged with the design of the
reserve series.

Seventh Series 
Seventh Series 


Personal Thoughts

Whew. Finally done!  I got

tired copying all those pictures. They
sure got interesting money history. Anyway, while I was in the middle of the
project, I suddenly got confused of which country should I have used in this
project—Switzerland or Mexico? Hmm. I can’t seem to make up my mind, so
I just continued searching for the currency history of Switzerland. (Hopefully
its right, but if not, I’m willing to do one again for the sake of knowing and
for the sake of higher grades!)  And there you have it! ;) Btw, I just got
the entrance examination results from DLSU- Manila and I’m really happy
that I made it! I thought it was going to be my first major disappointment
this year 2010. 

Upon searching the net, I found out the history of money itself. Of
course, before money came, people exchanged goods for other goods which
we know as the barter system. Then, Ancient China and Africa used cowry
shells like they were coins. From what I can recall, it is called commodity
money. I also learned that a “shekel” was an ancient unit of currency, and
at the same time it is also a unit of weight. Then people began to use coins
and eventually used paper bills. Oh yeah, paper bills (cash) are called fiat
money. And the latest money today, credit money like cheques and
electronic transfers. (http://currency-history.blogspot.com/) Ok, now let’s go
on with what I’ve learned about Swiss Franc. Hmm. Swiss Franc is denoted
from CHF or Confoederatio Helvetica Franc. A Swiss Franc is equal to
0.96609 USD, which is also equal to P44.5759. Also, some of its previous
series weren’t issued.

And now, its time to thank people! I thank God, first of all, for blessing
me with knowledge and guiding me in my works. I thank Sir John for
allowing us to explore different things and nurturing our minds. I thank
Partner (Margaret) for informing us about the project early. 

“Information is the oxygen of modern age.”

–Former US President, Ronald Reagan

Maeh Lorenz