increasing size, increasing value

Bankers and money is one of the typical stereotypes of Switzerland – especially when living in Zurich. At a closer look, the Swiss money is quite special indeed. It somehow happened last week that we were paid back a (for us) larger amount of money in cash and therefore we had the chance to look at notes that are usually (to my regret) rather rare in our wallets. Mind you, I am just speaking about our own wallets. Generally, you won’t have any problems at all if you want to pay with big notes – at Karsten’s work even the sandwich trolley has change when you pay with a 100 franc note for a 2 franc sandwich. A situation that would not be imaginable in Germany because every kiosk vender would think you are a little cuckoo if you give him a 100 Euro note for a chocolate bar. In Switzerland, it’s a basic prerequisite (the ability to change big notes, not being cuckoo!). So far, it only happened once that I saw a notice in a shop refusing big notes: in a small bookshop where it said on the counter “Unfortunately, we don’t accept 1000 (Note of the author: one thousand!!) CHF notes. We apologise for the inconvenience.”


The Swiss notes are remarkably bright and colorful and are among the most forgery-proofed notes in the world. The smallest one, the 10 franc note, shows Le Corbusier, a famous architect (whose buildings are, by the way, listed as World Heritage). As we encountered last week, the 200 CHF note displays Ramuz, a famous Swiss writer. On every note, the value is written in the four official languages of Switzerland: German, French, Italian and Romansh. The most remarkable fact, though, is that the Swiss notes are increasing in size (more specific: length) proportionally to their value. They lengthen by exactly 11 millimeters. The 10 CHF note is 126 mm long. The 20 CHF note is 137 mm long. The 200 CHF note is already 170 mm long. And the 1000 CHF note is impressive 181 mm long.

And here lies the fundamental problem. My wallet is simply not big enough for 1000 franc notes…

About erdhummel

Familial entropy - that's an insight into our current life which has been fundamentally changed last summer when our daughter was born. Having studied in Cottbus, Germany, and worked/studied in Edinburgh, Scotland, we momentarily live in a small town in Switzerland where Karsten is trying to save the environment and Freddie is trying to save our sanity. Since there is not much time for elaborate, long emails while doing that, we thought a blog might be a good option to smuggle ourselves into the lifes of our friends.
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1 Response to increasing size, increasing value

  1. eingehirner says:

    Having change for 100 CHF notes is indeed a prerequisite in a country where every ATM refuses to provide you with anything less in worth ­čśë Which is, like you say, the main reason why I bought a new wallet once we came to Switzerland. You need one with three foldable parts, most two-part wallets are simply not large enough to store even the “small” 100CHF notes…

    I also find it interesting that Switzerland completely omits 1Rp and 2Rp coins and leads a constant discussion about whether to abolish 5Rp coins as well. Quite different to Germany where one gets the impression that the whole economy is based upon “X,99 EUR” prices…

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