These are 10 of the most beautiful bank notes in the world

The International Bank Note Society (IBNS) has announced the winner of its its prestigious “Bank Note of the Year Award” for 2017.

With over 170 new bank notes released worldwide during 2017, almost a third were of sufficiently new design to be eligible for nomination.

In the closest vote ever, according to the IBNS, the Swiss 10 Franc polymer/hybrid note narrowly edged out runners-up from the Royal Bank of Scotland (£10 with female scientist), Canada ($10 with 4 politicians and regions), Fiji (unique $7 featuring their first Olympic gold medal and rugby “7’s” team), Norway (100 Kroner Viking long ship), and Djibouti (40 Franc whale shark).

This is the fourth consecutive hybrid/polymer note to win the coveted IBNS Bank Note of the Year Award.

South Africa

South Africa could also feature in next year’s list with the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) recently announcing that it would be releasing a set of commemorative notes based on the life on Nelson Mandela.

“The South African Reserve Bank will this year launch a set of commemorative South African bank notes in honour of what would have been Nelson Mandela’s centenary. These notes will cover all denominations – R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200,” the state bank said in February.

In addition, the South African Mint, a subsidiary of the SARB, will issue a new R5 circulation coin celebrating Mandela’s birth centenary.

“The existing Mandela series of bank notes as well as the existing R5 coin in circulation will remain legal tender and will continue to be issued. This means that the new commemorative bank notes and coin will circulate alongside the existing bank notes and coin,” said the central bank.

The SARB said that it expects the commemorative bank notes and coins to be introduced into circulation from 18 July, what would have been Mandela’s 100th birthday.

You can find this year’s IBNS winner and complete list of nominees here. Alternatively you can find some of the most eye-catching nominees below.


Winner (Switzerland)

Front: depicting music and time

Reverse: depicting Swiss railways and watch movements.


Nominee (Canada)

Front: features an Assomption sash underprint pattern; the SPARK arch found in the Memorial Chamber on Parliament Hill; John Alexander Macdonald, George-Étienne Cartier, Agnes Campbell Macphail, James Gladstone Akay-na-muka; and a sylized maple leaf

Reverse: features Capilano Lake and Lions/Twin Sisters mountains (Western Canada); wheat field outside Regina, Saskatchewan (Prairie provinces); Kipawa River and trees of Canadian Shield in Parc national d’Opémican (Central Canada); rocky coast of Cape Bonavista (Eastern Canada); and the northern lights above Wood Buffalo national park (Northern Canada) 


Nominee (Scotland)

Front: features flowers; bank logo in SPARK Orbital; exerpt from Somerville’s “The Connection of the Physical Sciences;” beach of Somerville’s hometown, Burntisland; mathematician and astronomer Mary Somerville.

Reverse: botanicals used in dyeing; two otters; and an excerpt from Norman MacCaig’s poem, “Moorings


Nominee (Norway)

Front: features Norwegian text; an Atlantic puffin head with fish in beak; and a Gokstad Viking ship.

Reverse: features Norwegian text and a cargo ship.


Nominee (Gibraltar)

Front: features Queen Elizabeth II;a crenellated castle tower as a registration device; and a coat of arms of castle with key.

Reverse: features a crenellated castle tower and Sir Joshua Hassan.


Nominee (Mexico)

Front: features president Venustiano Carranza, and chairman of Congress, Luis Manuel Rojas, sworn in before the Constituent Assembly after amending the Constitution.

Reverse: congressmen swearing to observe and enforce the Mexican Constitution.


Nominee (Australia)

Front: features a Bramble Wattle (Acacia victoriae); a sulphur-crested cockatoo; microprinting of lines from Paterson’s ‘The Man From Snowy River’; a fountain pen nib; a windmill; writer AB “Banjo” Paterson wearing hat; and a horseman holding whip and reigns.

Reverse: features a pen nib, a woman and man standing outside rustic house in bushland; microprinting of lines from Paterson’s poem ‘No Foe Shall Gather Our Harvest’; Mary Gilmore from 1957 painting by William Dobell; and Mary Gilmore with papers at desk.


Nominee (Fiji)

Front: depicts the Fijian flag; Olympic coach Ben Ryan sitting on Sigatoka Sand Dunes; Olympic captain Osea Kolinisau running with ball; gold medal and RBF logo in OVI; the coat of arms.

Reverse: Fiji Rugby 7s Gold Olympians with Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama and team officials; domodomo; and a bank logo.


Nominee (Djibouti)

Front: shows Arabic and French text; a whale shark swimming among coral, starfish, sea shells, and a seahorse.

Reverse: shows Arabic and French text; Jubilé logo; gantry cranes and container ships; port; and an outline map of Djibouti.


Nominee (Maldives)

Front: features an underprint of traditional drum (boduberu) designs; fish decoration; standing man playing traditional drum for dancing crowd; two men playing football (soccer).

Reverse: depicts a seashell.


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