Sharks, otters, and a man playing rugby: These are the 6 most beautiful bank notes in the world right now

A sheet of the Bank of Canada's latest $10 note, one of the IBNS' runners-up.

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A sheet of the Bank of Canada’s latest $10 note, one of the IBNS’ runners-up.
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Bank of Canada

For most of us, bank notes are simply a means of buying the goods and services we need to get through life. For others, however, the style and composition of bank notes is a serious matter.

There’s even a global organisation, the International Bank Note Society, dedicated to cataloging and critiquing the world’s notes.

Every year, the IBNS holds a global competition to find the best bank note released in the last 12 months, with surprisingly fierce competition for the coveted title of “Bank Note of the Year”

The results of the 2017 awards were announced on Friday, with the IBNS describing the competition this year as the “closest vote ever,” despite over 170 new designs of bank notes being released around the world last year.

Switzerland’s new 10 franc note took home the prize, meaning a Swiss note won for a second consecutive year, while a further five notes were classed as runners-up. Take a look at the top notes below.


Runner-up: Norway’s 100 Kroner note

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Norges Bank

The new 100 kroner note (equivalent to roughly $13) celebrates the seafaring heritage of Norway, including an image of the Gokstad ship, the largest preserved viking ship in the country.

“As Norwegians we carry with us a long and rich history of surviving along the coast and out at sea to fish, trade and transport goods – from Saga Age merchants to today’s international shipping companies,” Norges Bank, which issues the notes, said at the time of its release.

On the reverse of the note, is an image of a container ship, paying tribute to the shipping industry, an important driver of the Norwegian economy.


Runner-up: Djibouti’s 40 Franc note

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International Bank Note Society

Djibouti, a tiny nation on the Horn of Africa, has a population of less than one million.

The country’s newest bank note, however, is a worldbeater, paying tribute to the country’s heritage and wildlife. The front features an image of a whale shark swimming in a coral reef, while the back focuses on Djibouti’s shipping industry, a thriving business thanks to the nation’s geographically important location on one of the world’s busiest shipping routes.

40 Djibouti francs is equivalent to around $0.20.


Runner-up: Fiji’s $7 Note

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International Bank Note Society

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International Bank Note Society

$7 dollar may seem like an odd denomination, and it is, because this note was created by Fijian authorities to mark the first ever Olympic gold medal won by the country, in the sport of Rugby Sevens.

The note’s front features Olympic captain Osea Kolinisau and coach Ben Ryan, while the back has an image of the whole Olympic squad with Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama.


Runner-up: Canada’s $10 note

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Bank of Canada

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Bank of Canada

Released to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the creation of the Canadian Confederation, Canada’s new $10 features images of some of the country’s greatest figures.

That includes Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister, Sir George-Étienne Cartier, the “father of Canadian federalism,” and Agnes Macphail, the first woman elected to Canadian parliament.

“This bank note is intended to captivate our imagination and instill pride in what we, as a nation, have accomplished,” Stephen Poloz, the governor of the Bank of Canada said at the time of the note’s release.

“It celebrates the natural beauty and majesty of our land and some of the important parliamentarians who helped shape our great country.”

It is printed on a sophisticated polymer material making it more difficult to counterfeit.


Runner-up: The Royal Bank of Scotland’s Scottish £10 note

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International Bank Note Society

Scottish money may be legal tender across the whole of the United Kingdom, but Scots get their own bank notes, made from a similar material to the highly sophisticated new English notes released by the Bank of England.

The way Scottish money is printed is unusual, with several banks printing their own notes.

The note nominated as an IBNS runner-up was printed by the Royal Bank of Scotland, and features Mary Somerville, a scientist and the first female member of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The note’s reverse features a pair of otters and an extract from the poem ‘Moorings’ by Norman MacCraig.


Winner: Switzerland’s 10 Franc note

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International Bank Note Society

For a second consecutive year, Switzerland takes home the crown of the world’s best bank note, with its 10 franc note ($10). Last year, note of the year was won by Switzerland’s 50 franc note.

The note, part of the “first new design the Swiss National Bank has released in 20 years,” includes images of “human hands conducting an orchestra with a globe showing time zones and the punctual Swiss rail system.”

According to the IBNS, it also includes “the latest in technological security standards,” and is “the fourth consecutive hybrid / polymer note to win the coveted IBNS Bank Note of the Year Award.”