header Notes Collection

5 Franken 1939, Switzerland

in Krause book Number: 11i
Years of issue: 17.05.1939
Edition: Serie: 20A-21Z - 5 mln.
Signatures: Der Präsident des Bankrates: Prof. Dr. Gottlieb Bachmann (1939 - 1947), Der Hauptkassier: Herr Erich Blumer (1936 - 1954), Ein Mitglied des Direktoriums: Dr. Paul Rossy (1937 - 1955)
Serie: Second Series
Specimen of: 01.08.1913
Material: Cotton fiber
Size (mm): 125 х 70
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.

5 Franken 1939




5 Franken 1939

monumentOn the left, in a medallion, is the Swiss national hero - William Tell. The engraving on banknote is made after the monument to Tell in Altdorf, by the work of the Swiss sculptor Richard Kissling, finished in 1892. The name of monument - "William Tell and his son, Walter." It is probably his most famous work.

William Tell (in the four languages of Switzerland: German: Wilhelm Tell; French: Guillaume Tell; Italian: Guglielmo Tell; Romansh: Guglielm Tell) is a folk hero of Switzerland. His legend is recorded in a late XV-century Swiss illustrated chronicles.

It is set in the time of the original foundation of the Old Swiss Confederacy in the early XIV century. According to the legend, Tell - an expert marksman with the crossbow - assassinated Gessler, a tyrannical reeve of Habsburg Austria positioned in Altdorf, Uri.

Along with Arnold von Winkelried, Tell is a central figure in Swiss patriotism as it was constructed during the Restoration of the Confederacy after the Napoleonic era.

monumentThere are several accounts of the Tell legend. The earliest sources give an account of the apple shot, Tell's escape and the ensuing rebellion. The assassination of Gessler is not mentioned in the Tellenlied, but is already present in the White Book of Sarnen account.

The legend as told by Tschudi (ca. 1570) goes as follows:

"William Tell, who originally came from Bürglen, was known as a strong man, mountain climber, and an expert shot with the crossbow. In his time, the Habsburg emperors of Austria were seeking to dominate Uri. Albrecht (or Hermann) Gessler, the newly appointed Austrian Vogt of Altdorf, raised a pole in the village's central square, hung his hat on top of it, and demanded that all the townsfolk bow before the hat.

On 18 November 1307, Tell visited Altdorf with his young son and passed by the hat, publicly refusing to bow to it, and so was arrested. Gessler-intrigued by Tell's famed marksmanship, yet resentful of his defiance-devised a cruel punishment: Tell and his son would be executed, but he could redeem his life by shooting an apple off the head of his son, Walter, in a single attempt. Tell split the apple with a bolt from his crossbow.

But Gessler noticed that Tell had removed two crossbow bolts from his quiver, not one. Before releasing Tell, he asked why. Tell replied that if he had killed his son, he would have used the second bolt on Gessler himself. Gessler was angered, and had Tell bound.

Tell was brought to Gessler's ship to be taken to his castle at Küssnacht to spend his newly won life in a dungeon. But, as a storm broke on Lake Lucerne, the soldiers were afraid that their boat would founder, and unbound Tell to steer with all his famed strength. Tell made use of the opportunity to escape, leaping from the boat at the rocky site now known as the Tellsplatte ("Tell's slab") and memorialized by the Tellskapelle.

Tell ran cross-country to Küssnacht. As Gessler arrived, Tell assassinated him with the second crossbow bolt along a stretch of the road cut through the rock between Immensee and Küssnacht, now known as the Hohle Gasse.[2] Tell's blow for liberty sparked a rebellion, in which he played a leading part. That fed the impetus for the nascent Swiss Confederation.

Tell fought again against Austria in the 1315 Battle of Morgarten. Tschudi also has an account of Tell's death in 1354, according to which he was killed trying to save a child from drowning in the Schächenbach river in Uri".

Richard_KisslingSwiss sculptor Richard Kissling, the man who designed the Rizal Monument was born on April 14, 1848 Wolfwil in the canton of Solothurn, Switzerland. As a young boy, he fashioned figures on dough, telling his parents of his wish of becoming a sculptor. Young Richard started his training in sculpturing as a plasterer in Solothurn. Then moving to stones and granite, his first commissioned works were grave stones. At age 22, he went to Rome to work and train under eminent Swiss sculptor Ferdinand Schlöth.

After 13 years in Rome , he went back to Switzerland, where one of his works, a bust of Alfred Escher was noticed in the Zürich Exposition of 1883. It won him a commission work to build the fountain/monument honoring Escher in the Zürich main train station.

In 1892, Kissling won the competition to design the monument of Swiss national hero William Tell for the town of Altdorf in the canton of Schwyz. With 30 artists joining the contest, Kissling's design of William Tell with his arm around his son and a crossbow won first price. The famous William Tell monument of Altdorf is probably Kisslings most famous work.

Richard_KisslingRichard Kissling posing with the plaster model of perhaps his most famous opus-the William Tell monument in 1893. The final bronze statue was then cast in the famous Thiébaut foundry, in Paris. Almost two decades later Kissling would also send the plaster model of the Rizal monument to the same foundry in Paris for casting. Photo courtesy of "Hommage a Kissling" Kunst und Kulturverein Uri/ Erich Schenker.

"Kissling produced a detailed image of Tell, which cast him as a peasant and man of the mountains, with strong features of muscular limbs his powerful hands rest lovingly in the shoulder of little Walter. Kissling did not try to represent the pierced apple, which would have detracted from the solemnity of the composition. Kissling would eventually be commissioned to provide monuments for dozens of town in Switzerland. His bronzes gave Swiss tangible image of figures in their national history, in the days before mass media'" From Swissinfo.

Richard Kissling died in Zürich July 19, 1919. The once famous artist of his country, who was once called "national sculptor of Switzerland", died almost forgotten, owing to the fact that his "classic-heroic" style was already considered obsolete in his time. It was said that the plaster model of one of his famous work "Alfred Escher Monument" was even thrown in the Lake of Zürich. (

Behind William Tell, on the left, is mountain landscape with a house.

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

Denominations in numerals are in top and lower right corners.


5 Franken 1939

A decorative border is present along the edges of the note's reverse. In the center of the upper and lower borders is a round design element. Inside of this element on the top border is the coat of arms of Switzerland, slightly different in design from the arms presented on the obverse. The numeral "5" is printed in each of the corners of the note, inside of flower-like boundaries decorated with elaborate designs.

A large "5" is also present in the middle of the reverse, printed over an ornate background. Encircling it is an ovular border bearing the titles of the Swiss National Bank in German, French, and Italian. The German "SCHWEIZERISCHE NATIONALBANK" is printed in a clockwise direction at the top of the border, while the French "BANQUE NATIONALE SUISSE" and Italian "BANCA NAZIONALE SVIZZERA" are written in that order in a counterclockwise direction at the bottom.


Graphic artist: S. Balzer.

The second series of Swiss francs spent more than forty years in circulation. 5 francs banknote was in circulation until 1980. Almost 70 years.