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20 francs

Switzerland 20 CHF obv Switzerland 20 CHF rev

General information

Flag of Switzerland Switzerland


20.00 francs



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  • 163 mm (series 2)[1]
  • 143 mm (series 3)[2]
  • 155 mm (series 5)[3]
  • 148 mm (series 6, 7)[4][5]
  • 137 mm (series 8)[6]
Click to

  • 95 mm (series 2)[1]
  • 143 mm (series 3)[2]
  • 85 mm (series 5)[3]
  • 70 mm (series 6, 7)[4][5]
  • 74 mm (series 8)[6]
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The 20 franc banknote was first issued by Switzerland in 1914 as a part of its second series of notes. Since then, new issues have been introduced in 1956, 1979, and recently in 1996. Today the notes are still found in circulation, equaling 20 francs. During 2012, new notes designed by Manuela Pfrunder are expected to be issued.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]


First note[]

CHF20 2 front horizontal CHF20 2 back horizontal
Obverse Reverse

The first 20 franc banknote began issue during 1914 as a part of Switzerland's second series of banknotes. They measured 163 millimeters in width by 95 millimeters in height. These notes were designed by S. Balzer, an employee of Orell Füssli, which had printed the notes. On the obverse, which was mainly light blue in color, the head of Helvetia used on the Vreneli coins was shown. Displayed on its reverse, which was predominantly purple in color, was the value with ornaments and a rosette. These notes were recalled on December 31, 1935 and declared worthless on January 1, 1956.[1]

Notes of the third series[]

20 franc notes 3

The notes of series three. Only the bottom note was issued.

During 1918, the third series of banknotes was introduced as war money so Switzerland would be prepared if it were invaded during World War I by its neighbors. No 20 franc notes were issued during the war. Eventually, three note designs were created, which were all blue in color, but had different dimensions.[2]

The first note design, which was kept as a reserve issue, was 141 millimeters in width by 88 millimeters in height, being slightly smaller than both of the other 20 franc designs of its series. Displayed on its obverse was a portrait of a woman from Fribourg, which was made by Pietro Chiesa, while its reverse showed the value of the note with ornaments and a rosette, similar to the first 20 franc note.[2]

The second note design, which was also kept as a reserve issue, measured 143 millimeters in width by 86 millimeters in height. Though it was mainly blue, parts of the note were also colored red. On its obverse was an image of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, while its reverse showed the Swiss cross circled by text.[2]

The third design, which was the only one of the three notes to be issued, had measured 143 millimeters by 86 millimeters, being the same size as the second design. Displayed on the partially red obverse was an image of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, with its reverse showing the Swiss cross and value. It was designed by Felix Maria Diogg and Traugott Willi, who had likely based the design off of the preceding reserve issue. These banknotes were issued from 1930 to 1956 and were officially declared worthless as of January 4, 1976.[2]

Fifth series[]

CHF20 5 front horizontal CHF20 5 back horizontal
Obverse Reverse

In 1956, Switzerland's fifth series of notes was introduced, which introduced a new 20 franc note on March 29. Like the notes before it, the fifth series 20 franc banknote was mainly colored blue. The dimensions of the banknote were 155 millimeters in width by 85 millimeters in height. It was designed by Swiss artist, Hermann Eidenbenz. Depicted on the obverse was General Guillaume Henri Dufour. On the reverse, a thistle was displayed. These notes were issued up until January 5, 1980 and were officially declared worthless on January 5, 2000.[3]

Sixth series[]

Swiss 20 franc note 1978 obverse Swiss 20 franc note 1978 reverse
Obverse Reverse

A year before the recall of the fifth series 20 franc note, a new banknote was printed as a part of the sixth series. Once again, it was predominantly colored blue. It measured 148 millimeters in width by 70 millimeters in height. The note was designed by Swiss designers, Ernst and Ursula Hiestand. On the obverse, an image of Swiss scientist, Horace-Bénédict de Saussure was displayed. Shown on the reverse was a mountain range with alpinists and an ammonite. Unlike the banknotes before it, this new 20 franc note had used vertical orientation on its reverse, while the obverse stayed in the original horizontal orientation. They were recalled in 2000 and will be officially worthless in 2020.[4]

Reserve series[]

CHF20 7 front horizontal CHF20 7 back horizontal
Obverse Reverse

In 1984, the Swiss National Bank printed the seventh series, which would have been issued if the notes of the previous series became widely counterfeited. However, this time never occurred. Like all of its precedents, the banknote was colored blue. It retained the dimensions of the sixth series note, with a width of 148 millimeters and a height of 70 millimeters. The note was designed by Roger and Elisabeth Pfund. On the obverse, once again, was an image of Horace-Bénédict de Saussure along with quartz crystals and hornblende. Displayed on its reverse was a hygrometer, a view of the Chamonix valley and Mont Blanc massif, and the expedition to the Tacul glacier. The details of this banknote were eventually released to the public, but the notes themselves were destroyed.[5]

Current note[]

The current 20 franc banknote (pictured above) was first issued in 1996. For the first time, the 20 franc banknote was colored red in, order to avoid confusion with the similarly colored 100 franc note. It has measurements of 137 millimeters by 74 millimeters. Along with all the notes of the eighth series, the new 20 franc banknote was designed by Jörg Zintzmeyer. Instead of printing another reserve series if the new notes became highly counterfeited, security features were added to make this deed more difficult. Displayed on the obverse is Swiss composer, Arthur Honegger. On the reverse is Pacific 231, one of Honegger's works, and an instrument.[6]

Future note[]

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After the Swiss National Bank held a competition to determine the appearance of the upcoming ninth series, they decided to use the designs made by first-place winner, Manuel Krebs. His design for the note featured a cell on the obverse and a drawing of the circulatory system on the reverse. However, after being revealed to the public, the designs were criticized, which resulted in the designs of the second-place winner, Manuela Pfrunder to be used for the new series. On her design for the 20 franc note, Swiss winter sports were depicted on the obverse, while a butterfly was shown on the reverse. These notes are expected to be released in 2012.[7]


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