header Notes Collection

50 Franken 1987, Switzerland

in Krause book Number: 56g
Years of issue: 1988
Edition: 44 000 000
Signatures: Le président du Conseil: Herr François Schaller, Un membre de la Direction générale: Herr Hans Meyer
Serie: Series VI
Specimen of: 05.11.1979
Material: Cotton fiber
Size (mm): 159 x 79
Printer: Orell Füssli, Zürich

* All pictures marked magnify are increased partially by magnifying glass, the remaining open in full size by clicking on the image.

** The word "Specimen" is present only on some of electronic pictures, in accordance with banknote images publication rules of appropriate banks.

50 Franken 1987




Konrad Gessner (Conrad Gessner).


50 Franken 1987

Konrad Gessner

The engraving on banknote based after the portrait by Swiss painter and illustrator Tobias Stimmer, made near 1564.

Conrad Gessner (Latin: Conradus Gesnerus; German: Conrad Geßner; 26 March 1516, Zürich, Swiss Confederacy – 13 December 1565, Zürich, Swiss Confederacy) was a Swiss physician, naturalist, bibliographer, and philologist. Born into a poor family in Zürich, Switzerland, his father and teachers quickly realised his talents and supported him through university, where he studied classical languages, theology and medicine. He became Zürich's City Physician, but was able to spend much of his time on collecting, research and writing. Gessner compiled monumental works on bibliography (Bibliotheca universalis 1545-1549) and zoology (Historiae animalium 1551-1558) and was working on a major botanical text at the time of his death from plague at the age of 49. He is regarded as the father of modern scientific bibliography, zoology and botany. He was frequently the first to describe a species of plant or animal in Europe, such as the tulip in 1559. A number of plants and animals have been named after him.

Gessner’s first work was a Latin-Greek Dictionary, the Lexicon Graeco-Latinum (1537), compiled during his studies in Basel. This was a revision of an original work by the Italian cleric, Varinus Phavorinus or Guarino of Favera (d. 1537), Magnum ac perutile dictionarium (1523). Over his lifetime he was able to produce some 70 publications on many different subjects.

His next major work was his unique Bibliotheca (1545), a landmark in the history of bibliography in which he set out to catalogue all the writers who had ever lived and their works. In addition to his monumental work on animal life, the Historiae animalium (1551–1558), he amassed a very large collection of notes and wood engravings of plants, but only published two botanical works in his lifetime, Historia plantarum et vires (1541) and the Catalogus plantarum (1542) in four languages. It was in the last decade of his life that he began to compile his major botanical work, Historia plantarum. Although he died prior to its completion, his work was utilised by many other authors over the next two centuries, but was finally published in 1754.

Not content with scientific works, Gessner was also active as a linguist and bibliographer, putting forth in 1555 his book entitled Mithridates. De differentiis linguarum [...], an account of about 130 known languages, with the Lord's Prayer in twenty-two languages. He also produced edited works of a number of classical authors (see Edited works), including Claudius Aelianus (1556)} and Marcus Aurelius.

A number of other works appeared after his death (posthumously), some long after (see Posthumous works). His work on insects was edited by various authors, including Thomas Penny, till Thomas Moufet brought it to publication as Insectorvm Sive Minimorum Animalivm Theatrvm (1634), finally appearing in English translation as The Theatre of Insects in Edward Topsell's History of four-footed beasts and serpants (1658).

Bibliotheca universalis (1545–1549).

In 1545, after four years of research, Gessner published his remarkable Bibliotheca universalis, an exhaustive catalogue of all known works in Latin, Greek and Hebrew, of all writers who had ever lived, with the titles of their works, and brief annotations. The work, which included his own bio-bibliography, listed some three thousand authors alphabetically, and was the first modern bibliography published since the invention of printing, Through it, Gessner became known as the "father of bibliography." In, all, about twelve thousand titles were included.

A second part, a thematic index to the work, Pandectarum sive partitionum universalium libri xxi, appeared in 1548. Although the title indicated that twenty one parts were intended, only nineteen books were included. Part 20, intended to include his medical work, was never finished and part 21, a theological encyclopaedia, was published separately in 1549.

Historiae animalium (1551–1558).

Gessner's great zoological work, Historiae animalium, is a 4,500-page encyclopedia of animals that appeared in Zürich in 4 volumes between 1551 and 1558: quadrupeds, amphibians, birds, and fishes. A fifth folio on snakes was issued in 1587. A German translation of the first 4 volumes titled Thierbůch was published in Zürich in 1563. This book was considered to be the first modern zoological work. It built a bridge between ancient, medieval and modern science.

In Historiae animalium Gessner combines data from old sources, such as the Old Testament, Aristotle, Pliny, folklore, and medieval bestiaries, adding his own observations. He created a new, comprehensive description of the Animal Kingdom. This was the first attempt by anyone to describe many animals accurately. The book unlike many works of its time was illustrated with hand-colored woodcuts drawn from personal observations by Gessner and his colleagues.

Even though he sought to distinguish observed facts from myths and popular errors and was known for his accurate depiction of many animals in Historiae animalium, he also included many fictional animals such as the Unicorn and the Basilisk, which he had only heard about from medieval bestiaries. But when Gessner doubted the accuracy of the opinions he relayed in his own writings, or the validity of the illustrations he included, he clearly said so. Besides any plant or animal's potential advantage to people, Gessner was interested in learning about them because of the moral lessons they could teach and the divine truths they might tell. He went into as much detail about some unreal animals as he did about real ones. Later in 1556 he also combined real and fictional creatures in his edition of the works of Claudius Aelianus.

Historiae animalium includes sketches for many well-known animals, and some fictional ones, including unicorns and mermaids. He accomplished many of his works in a large part due to the web of acquaintances he established with leading naturalists throughout Europe, who included John Caius, English court physician to the Tudors and second founder of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. Not only did they send him their ideas, but also sent him plants, animals and gems. He returned the favor — and kept helpful specimens coming — by naming plants after correspondents and friends.

Historia plantarum (unfinished).

Over his lifetime, Gessner amassed a considerable collection of plants and seeds and made extensive notes and wood engravings. In the last decade of his life he began to compile his major botanical work, Historia plantarum. although he died prior to its publication his materials were utilised by many subsequent authors for the next two hundred years, these included some 1,500 engravings of plants and their important flowers and seeds, most of which were original. The scale and scientific rigour of these were unusual for the time, and Gessner was a skilled artist, producing detailed drawings of specific plant parts that illustrated their characteristics, with extensive marginal notation discussing their growth form and habitation. Finally, the work was published in 1754.

There was extreme religious tension at the time Historiae animalium came out. Under Pope Paul IV the Pauline Index felt that the religious convictions of an author contaminated all his writings. Since Gessner was Protestant his works were included into this Index of prohibited books. Even though religious tensions were high, Gessner maintained friendships on both sides of the Catholic-Protestant divide. In fact, Catholic booksellers in Venice protested the Inquisition's blanket ban on Gessner's books, and some of his work was eventually allowed after it had been "cleaned" of its doctrinal errors.

wild beast SU

Centered is the mythical wild beast Su from the New World, portrayed by Gessner as the frontispiece of one of the volumes of his "Animal History" ("Historiae animalium").

Also, on background, are text from "Historiae animalium".

""Well, there is confusion, no order!" Exclaimed the naturalists, leafing through the heavy volumes written almost in the time of the ancient Greeks and later rewritten or reprinted by medieval monks. "If only a hint of order!" They spent so much time on this drugging that eyes would be enough to bring order - any and all.

The search for order lasted for many years, and everyone took part in them: botanists, zoologists, doctors, monks, and philosophers. They also acted in disarray, and went in a closed formation. And yet the order persistently was not given in hands. The reason is simple: you can not restore order, without knowing what and how to direct it.

The sixteenth century - the century of Copernicus and Giordano Bruno, Luther and Loyola - had just begun when one of the future seekers of order was born in Zurich. His parents were poor and soon died. He was brought up by his uncle, also a poor man and little educated. It seemed that he could leave the boy, except for a small artisan?

No, he did not want to be an artisan. He was not attracted by the beautiful clothes of a soldier, the clinking of spurs and the military glory of the victor. He did not dream about wealth and did not set himself the goal of a bag of heavy gold coins. Half-starved, dressed in a worn dress, he refused, and from the profession that promised him a peaceful life and a hearty dinner, even if consisting of one dish - a rich soup. The poor man, he was carried away by the sciences. What did the young man promise this love? Not one year of hunger strike and hard work, and the reward is not so full and quiet life. The young man did not get scared: he knew what he wanted, and if his steps were not always firm, if sometimes he was sick from exhaustion, he nevertheless stubbornly and stubbornly went ahead. He would crawl if he could not go!

And he achieved his goal - he graduated from the university and was awarded the title of professor of the Greek language.

This professor was only twenty-one years old, and his name was Konrad Gessner.

Gessner did not stay in the chair of the Greek language. But during those five years that he was carried away with Greek and other books and manuscripts, the young scientist compiled a complete catalog of all classical Greek, Roman, Jewish and other manuscripts. In the first years of his life, the scientist was affected by the propensity to compose descriptions, lists, catalogs. But the detailed inventory is the right way to order.

Gessner was soon bored with studying the dead-classics. In 1541, we see a twenty-five-year-old scientist already a doctor and naturalist. If earlier he made lists of ancient manuscripts, now he began to put animals and plants known to the science of those times into order. True, he did not have much time to do this: he lived only forty-nine years.

Health Gessner could not boast: years of hunger strike greatly undermined him. Yet in the search for plants naturalist traveled all the Alps, Northern Italy, France, traveled to the Adriatic Sea, to the Rhine. During these travels, he carried with him not only herbarium files and botanical tins; not just banks for animals. There have always been several books with him, and every time in a new language. So he learned between the French, English, Italian and even some Oriental languages. And if you take into account his native German, as well as Latin, Greek and Hebrew, which he studied at the university, it is not surprising that Gessner could read almost any book of those times.

He collected the plants not in order to fill them with the collector's folders. He was equally dear and small grass-mutant (bird's buckwheat), which trampled passers-by on green streets, and high-altitude handsome Edelweiss. He did not chase after rarities, as collectors do, but tried to get them: he needed everything.

Gessner collected material for extensive work to restore order in the plant world.

And as soon as the material accumulated, the work began to boil.

"A seed and a flower!" - Gessner proclaimed and began to work under this motto. You can not judge by appearance, a seed and a flower - that's the basis.

Do not think that under the foundation he understood the true relationship. No, evolution, origin, history of ancestors - this was not thought about then. And for a basis it was accepted not kinship, and simply external similarity in a structure. However, Gessner was interested in one thing: to find a reliable method for putting things in order, to find the best way to classify.

Looking over and examining the dried plants, he soon became convinced that, no matter how good and full of herbarium, he was far from living plants. Then Gesner built a small botanical garden. Of course, the city authorities of Zurich did not give him a penny for this business, and, of course, they constantly boasted of Gesner's garden.

- Have you seen the botanical garden of Gesner? .. - they asked foreign immigrants. - No? What are you, what are you! This is a wonderful garden, and Gesner himself ...

Gesner paid all the expenses for the garden, he even had to take and spend money to treat the guests sent to him by the city authorities. He also paid a salary to his assistant, who made drawings of plants and animals for him.

The garden flourished, the folders with herbaria and drawings became more and more. But you can not assemble everything at once: in a few years the whole world will not go around. For months Gesner had to wait until he was sent a grass or leaf, dried flower or drawing from there, because of distant seas. The work was standing, but Gesner could not sit idle. Then he took up the animals.

Knowledge of languages ​​helped him in this difficult work. He quickly figured out the descriptions of Pliny, reviewed the zoological works of Aristotle, and then began to study the writings of medieval naturalists and monks-scientists. He reread piles of books and manuscripts, collected a lot of information through his friends-scientists and acquaintances. Much of it embarrassed him, but he was not a very big skeptic and quickly agreed with the narrator if he did not get too far over the edge.

"I swear to confirm the truthfulness of the Heraldus's information," solemnly one of the Zurich priests told Gesner and, for greater effect, raised his hand to the ceiling when our scholar doubted the veracity of the tales of the Heraldus.

Historiae animalium Historiae animalium

And this Heraldus told the pre-work things. He described a special "Bernakel Goose". This goose allegedly grew on the wreckage of pine, worn by sea waves, and had originally the appearance of droplets of resin. Then the goose was attached by a beak to a tree and allocated, for the sake of safety, a firm shell. Surrounded by it, he lived calmly and carefree.

Time passed, and the goose received plumage, fell from its wreckage into the water, began to swim. One day he waved his wings and flew away.

"I myself saw more than a thousand such creatures, both prisoners in the shell and already developed, sitting on a piece of bark, they do not carry eggs and do not incubate them, one can not find their nests in any corner of the globe," the Geraldus concluded wonderful goose.

Gesner never saw a goose appear from a piece of wood, but - how to know? The whole world will not go round, you will not see everything with your own eyes, but the priest swore. Gesner could not not believe the oath of the one who held the keys of paradise in his hands ...

The basis of the fairy tale about the Bernakelian goose was a small barnacle sea crustacean - a sea duck. By its appearance, this crustaceus is a bit like the contour of a bird, or rather, the picture of it, made by a child, who hardly knows how to hold a pencil in his hand. "Geese" are small wild goose-goose. They appeared during flight to the north (or from the north) by huge flocks, but no one knew where and how they reproduced, did not see them with goslings. Thus was born a fairy tale. It contradicted the Bible, but the monks were not embarrassed. Another thing was important: birds that were born so miraculously can not be considered as ordinary geese. A simple goose is a fast-moving goose, Bernakel is lean, you can eat it even on such days when a monk does not rely on meat.

Monks ate "lean goose", clearly violating the prohibitions of the church. The end was that the pope issued a decree: the goose, the Bernakeli goose, was declared a fast food. So the geese for the second time entered the history of Rome: the first time they saved the city, the second time - nearly killed the souls of monks, who regaled fasting "lean goose".

The tale lived for a long time, but the true story of the sea ducks was unknown even longer. Only in the XIX century was made a discovery: the sea duck was a crustacean.

Historiae animalium

Not one Gessner got into a mess with this story. A certain Dyure who lived a little later than Guesner in 1605 asserted that from the fruit fallen from the tree to the ground, birds can turn out, and from the same fruits in the water the fish will appear. He even gave a drawing, in which he very conscientiously portrayed the gradual transformation of fruits into birds and fishes.

"Dure acknowledged the volatility of the living," some would object. - Let him be naive, let his "transformations" be rude, but still ...

Alas! This is not the variability that scientists talk about and write about. These are fabulous transformations that differ from the swan princess only in that there is little beauty in them. However, fairy tales are tenacious: some of them can be heard today.

Gesner was not always trusting. He knew how deftly create all sorts of sea monsters, and not everything he had heard was placed in his notes.

Historiae animalium

"The apothecaries and other vagabonds (he said so!) give the body of skates a different appearance, depending on the desire... I saw we have one tramp who showed such a ramp in the guise of a basilisk." Here is what Gessner said in his book about some monsters.

Historiae animalium

He also exposed the famous Venetian dragon, known as the "Leoneus" and thundered throughout Europe. It was a rare dragon: a twisted tail, two mighty ones, six paws clawed with fingers, seven long necks and seven heads. The dragon was estimated at six thousand ducats, and, as they say, it was bought by the French king himself.

Turning over the copies from the manuscripts of the Greeks and Romans, looking through the monastic tracts, studying the drawings and skins of beasts, collecting all kinds of stories of fishermen and seafarers, reading the notes and diaries of travelers and examining the curiosities and buffoons, Gesner quickly moved forward in his work. And now his book has come to an end.

This was the first large book on zoology. In its four parts, everything that was known at that time about animals was collected. It was not yet "order", but a hint at it: the material was collected, and the classification in those days was afraid to think. And yet Gesner described separately the fish, separately the birds, and so all in turn.

Manatees, whales, dolphins and other fish-like creatures caused him a lot of trouble. They were very strange in appearance, and some of them even resembled a man: the authors and artists put a lot of effort into it. So there were descriptions of "sea monks" and "sea bishops", "sea devils", nereids, mermaids and other sea monsters. They were filled with books about nature, published at the dawn of printing. Gesner not only described many of these fabulous animals, but also gave their drawings. These drawings were the subject of lengthy meetings and disputes with the artist.

Historiae animalium

"It's covered with scales, which means it's a fish," insisted Gessner.

"What kind of fish is that, when he has a human head?" - the artist doubted, looking at the old drawing. "And the gills are not visible to him."

"No hands, the body is covered with scales." These are signs of fish. And as for the gills, then, maybe they just are not shown in the picture, - the scientist disagreed.

Gesner did not see a living "sea monk," nor did he see his drug or stuffed animals. He studied it only on a bad drawing, and from here - endless disputes with the artist, who did not know the rules of classification, and therefore easier to look at things.

Yet the "sea monk" found himself in the section of fish. Of course, Gessner was wrong: it would be more correct to take this monster to mammals, for the fabulous Nereids were later female manatees. Undoubtedly, the "sea monk" was some kind of marine mammal, turned into tales of seafarers into a mysterious "sea monk".

Historiae animalium

The appearance of Gessner's books was a great event in science. Finally, scientists have received "zoology." "Marine monks" did not embarrass anyone: almost everyone believed in their existence.

Gesner collected all the information about animals that accumulated over two thousand years. In his work were not only descriptions of animals, their distribution, lifestyle, habits. From Gesner's books one could learn about edible and poisonous animals, animals - heroes of fairy tales, fables and sayings. In those days, science did not yet know the rules of the scientific name of animals, scientists from different countries called the same animal in different ways, often in their own way. Gesner collected all these names: from his books you could find out what is called, for example, a squirrel or forty in one country or another, from one or another people.

Historiae animalium

Four parts of "Zoology" Gessner - four thick volumes. They described mammals, "egg-laying quadrupeds", birds and aquatic animals. The remaining records after Gesner gave the material for the fifth volume. It was published after the death of a scientist: it describes mainly insects.

The animals in each volume are arranged in alphabetical order. Of course, this was not an animal world system, but it's quite easy to find the right animal in Gessner's books, if ... you know its name. About two hundred years Gessner's book was decorated with tables of naturalists - scientists and amateurs. They were for them what today's famous "Bram", with the only difference that there were almost no other books on zoology, and the current "Bram" is just a small pile in a huge book mountain.

Historiae animalium

Meanwhile, the botanical garden of Gesner grew and expanded. Live plants were very necessary for our scientist. Do not forget that Gesner was not only a naturalist, but also a doctor. Gessner the botanist studied the signs of the plant, carefully examined it from all sides, counted stamens and pistils, counted petals, searched for differences between similar in appearance plants. Gessner the doctor sniffed, and often chewed the plants. Herbs and leaves were not always tasty, sometimes they were disgusting, but the naturalist doctor patiently chewed, although he was reduced to the jaws: what if the grass is suitable as a medicine?

Gessner arranged a good zoological cabinet, in which many skeletons, stuffed animals and dried parts of animals were stored. At that time, they did not yet know that alcohol could be used to preserve animals, and therefore animals that could not be made stuffed were simply dried. Not everything can be dried, and therefore some animals can not be found in any collection. Try to dry the jellyfish!

Gessner's office was the world's first zoological museum, the first in both time and wealth. But - alas! - he could not boast of a "sea monk", nor a "sea bishop", nor even an inferior nereid. Gessner tried every way to get at least one of these wonders, but he could not do it.

"Would you like a dragon?" suggested the sly apothecaries.

And Gesner brought something like a dragon.

"Why does he look so much like a slope?" - asked the scientist, looking suspiciously at the "dragon" with a meter-long tail.

"What are you, what are you, Venerable One!" - the pharmacist objected, with an innocent look stroking the "dragon" on the back. - Scat ... Scat is a fish, and this ... Just look: what a gorgeous dragon!

"And why are his wings curled and sutured upward?" You can not fool me. This is a stingray!

The confounded apothecary left, and six months later the scientist was brought a new "monster", again more or less deftly made of a slope, or even simply sewn from pieces of different animals.

It seemed that such cases should have raised doubts: are there dragons and "sea monks", were not all these monsters, described by ancient travelers, a fake? No, Gessner was not embarrassed. Obviously, he reasoned like this: dragons are a rarity, they are dearly valued, so they are forged.

While the cabinet filled with stuffed animals, while all new and new plants appeared on the botanical garden beds and until almost from all corners of the earth packets arrived with dried plants, then with seeds, then with drawings, Gessner engaged in mineralogy.

He described not only the most diverse minerals that he managed to assemble. All the "stone" has been the subject of study and description. So, in the "Mineralogy" were descriptions of petrified tree trunks.

These strange heavy pieces were very similar to tree trunks, but ... they were "stone". The sharp eye of the botanist saw that it was something remarkably similar to tree trunks. Gessner even compared them to the trunks of living pines, beeches and other trees. And yet he did not see the main thing: he did not understand that he had plants in front of him, for him it was "stones", albeit very peculiar.

The naturalist had only one step to make, and before him would open a long road - a road leading to the past of the living world. Gessner did not take this step, he could not do it: looking at the petrified trunk, the scientist did not see what he could see if ... if he could imagine that the living world had a past that the pine had ancestors, it does not look like it, that the plant world was not always the way we see it today. The world is unchangeable! Some plant may disappear, some animal may die out, but appear to something new ... How and where from? Once the world was created, and nothing new has appeared since then, could not have appeared. After all, the creator "tired of his labors" and did not create any more.

Historiae animalium

Hardly Gessner managed to finish his "Mineralogy", as in Zurich came the terrible guest - the plague.

The plants are forgotten, the zoological cabinet is abandoned, the beds of the botanical garden are covered with weeds. Gesner put on a linen gown, put on a resin mask and boldly went into battle with a terrible guest. The scientist remembered now one thing: he is a doctor. He fought stubbornly and honestly, did not hide from the sick, did not run from the infection. And he got infected.

"Take me to the office!" - asked the dying Gessner.

The terrible tar masks picked up the stretcher and carried Gesner to the zoological room. He was placed near the cupboards, under the rows of stuffed animals on the walls. And there, among the birds, animals and fish, he died.

... When students listen to the first lectures on zoology, they are sometimes shown a thick old book bound in pig's skin. The book is decorated with drawings, so cute in its simplicity and strangeness.

"That's what they thought four hundred years ago!" proclaims the professor. "How little did they know, and how much we know now!" How far the science of zoology has gone from those naive times!

This thick book is one of the books about animals written by Conrad Gessner." (coollib.net rus.)

A large, three-dimensional numeral "50" is displayed at the top center of the note, inside the area of the background. The designs on the background underneath are visible through the "50". The caption "Konrad Gessner 1516-1565" is printed below the large numeral. Printed in an upward direction in purple at the bottom center of the note is the German value "Fünfzig Franken", and written to the right of it in a similar manner the Romansh value "Tschuncanta Francs". Directly outside of the area with the background, near the left of the large "50", are a small, touch-perceptible dots that can be used by the visually-impaired for identifying the value of the note. Printed vertically and upward at the left edge of the obverse is the German bank title "SCHWEIZERISCHE NATIONALBANK". Accompanying it to the right is the Romansh "BANCA NAZIUNALA SVIZRA", written in the same manner.

On the top is short silver cross, as Swiss emblem. The cross reminds us that Switzerland's sovereignty is inviolable. For many centuries, the logo has remained virtually unchanged.


50 Franken 1987


Printed horizontally in red ink at the top of the reverse is the French bank title "BANQUE NATIONALE SUISSE", and written in the same format on a line below is the Italian "BANCA NAZIONALE SVIZZERA", followed by a small Swiss cross identical in appearance to the cross presented on the obverse.

Directly below the Italian title is a blank area in which a watermark becomes visible.

The signatures of the President of the Bank Council and a member of the Board of Directors are featured in the order listed below the blank area, the former captioned above by the French "Le président du Conseil" ("The President of the Council") and the latter accompanied by "Un membre de la Direction générale" ("A member of the Board of Directors"). Both of these captions are printed on two lines, the first separated between "president" and "du" and the second between "la" and "Direction".

Below all of the aforementioned elements is a colored area in which the prominent features of the reverse are located.

On background are white six-pointed stars.

Bubo bubo

The eagle owl (Bubo bubo), wood engraving by Konrad Gessner in his "Historiae animalium".

The Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo) is a species of eagle-owl that resides in much of Eurasia. It is also called the European eagle-owl and in Europe, it is occasionally abbreviated to just eagle-owl. It is one of the largest species of owl, and females can grow to a total length of 75 cm. (30 in.), with a wingspan of 188 cm (6 ft. 2 in.), males being slightly smaller. This bird has distinctive ear tufts, with upper parts that are mottled with darker blackish colouring and tawny. The wings and tail are barred. The underparts are a variably hued buff, streaked with darker colour. The facial disc is poorly developed and the orange eyes are distinctive.

Besides being one of the largest living species of owl, it is also one of the most widely distributed. The Eurasian eagle-owl is found in many habitats but is mostly a bird of mountain regions, coniferous forests, steppes and other relatively remote places. It is a mostly nocturnal predator, hunting for a range of different prey species, predominantly small mammals but also birds of varying sizes, reptiles, amphibians, fish, large insects and other assorted invertebrates. It typically breeds on cliff ledges, in gullies, among rocks or in other concealed locations. The nest is a scrape in which averages of two eggs are laid at intervals. These hatch at different times. The female incubates the eggs and broods the young, and the male provides food for her and when they hatch, for the nestlings as well. Continuing parental care for the young is provided by both adults for about five months. There are at least a dozen subspecies of Eurasian eagle-owl.

With a total range in Europe and Asia of about 32 million square kilometers (12 million square miles) and a total population estimated to be between 250 thousand and 2.5 million, the IUCN lists the bird's conservation status as being of "least concern". The vast majority of eagle-owls live in mainland Europe, Russia and Central Asia, and an estimated number of between 12 and 40 pairs are thought to reside in the United Kingdom as of 2016, a number which may be on the rise. Tame eagle-owls have occasionally been used in pest control because of their size to deter large birds such as gulls from nesting.

Primula auricula Primula auricula

On banknote - The auricula (Primula auricula), drawing by Konrad Gessner in his "Enchiridion historiae plantarum". I did not find the original image yet, so I put more similar ones.

Primula auricula, often known as auricula, mountain cowslip or bear's ear (from the shape of its leaves), is a species of flowering plant in the family Primulaceae, that grows on basic rocks in the mountain ranges of central Europe, including the western Alps, Jura mountains, the Vosges, the Black Forest and the Tatra Mountains.

It is an evergreen perennial growing to 20 cm. (8 in.) tall by 25 cm. (10 in.) wide. The leaves are obovate and stalkless, with a cartilaginous edge, all growing in a basal rosette, and sometimes covered in a mealy white bloom. The yellow flowers grow in clusters on 5-20 cm. (2-8 in.) long stalks.

The specific epithet auricula means "ear-shaped", and refers to the shape of the leaves.

The numeral "50" is printed in a large font at the upper right corner of the colored area, the shadow colored red and the remainder showing the designs of the background underneath.

The French value "Cinquante Francs" is printed in a downward direction at the upper left corner of the background, whereas the Italian "Cinquanta Francs" is inscribed upward at the lower right corner of the note. Written in small print at the very bottom of the note, outside of the colored area, is "E + U HIESTAND" followed by "© Banque Nationale Suisse" and "Orell Füssli Arts Graphiques S.A. Zurich". Such text signifies the designs were made by Ernst and Ursula Hiestand and the note is owned by the Swiss National Bank and was printed by Orell Füssli.


A competition was held to determine the designs of the sixth series, and the submissions sent in by artists Ernst (1935-) and Ursula Hiestand (1936-) were selected, although they did not officially win the competition.

The banknote was produced from 1978 and was recalled beginning on May 1, 2000. It is expected to be demonetized on May 1, 2020. The note, like the others of the sixth series, is unique in that one side – the obverse – has horizontal orientation while the other – the reverse – has vertical orientation. Also, although Romansh was recognized as a national language in Switzerland in 1938, no banknote series until the sixth series included the language.

There are 2 signatures:


François Schaller (03.12.1920 - 18.2.2006). President of the Bank Council from 25.04.1986 till 28.04.1989.


Hans Meyer (20.4.1936 - ). Head of II. Department and vice-president of the Bank since 01.05.1988 till 30.04.1996.