August 4th, 2005

I miss the pre-euro national currency notes.

I know there are practical reasons, but three and a half years after the changeover I find myself nostalgic for some of the old notes. It isn't just the variety of designs, but the subjects. Even the obscure ones were a view into the nation's view of itself.

The euro notes were specifically designed to be generic. Quoting

"One note had to be redesigned when it proved in fact to be a real bridge. And not from Europe, but from India."

Even the name was carefully chosen not to offend. And more or less, the European Central Bank succeeded. But the result looks a bit like toy money.

I don't mean this as a criticism of the designer, Robert Kalina of the Oesterreichische Nationalbank. He did as good a job as possible within the existing political constraints, which were many and must have made his job a frustrating exercise.

But look at some of the notes they replaced:
Of course, there are fewer note denominations than there are euro member countries, and you can't have people from some countries on the notes and leave out some other countries, so they just decided the wouldn't have anyone.

Still, one of my favorite notes doesn't even have a person on it, so that objection doesn't arise. It's just got a big sunflower.

The old notes had national distinctiveness and character. The new ones are bland.

But that's progress, I guess. And international political compromise.

[Edit: shows some of the designs that weren't chosen.]
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