Each year the International Bank Note Society (IBNS) chooses a Banknote of the Year from nominations made by members. Over the past couple of decades, the following six countries were nominated, won, or received an honorable mention for their aesthetically pleasing currency.
In 2016, Switzerland's 50 Franc note won the IBNS banknote of the year. Also, its 10 Franc note won in 2017, and its 1000 Franc note was nominated in 2019. The 50 Franc note was the first new currency design the Swiss National Bank released in two decades. One side of the note features a hand holding a dandelion with seeds blowing, and the other side of the note features a paraglider in the Swiss Alps. The Swiss National Bank's release also included the Switzerland 10 Franc note, which depicts human hands conducting an orchestra, global time zones, and the Swiss rail system.
Outdoor enthusiasts and avid birdwatchers will love New Zealand's currency. A bird is highlighted on each denomination, with the five-dollar note, the winner of the IBNS award in 2015, featuring a yellow-eyed penguin. Other birds featured on New Zealand's currency include the Yellowhead, the Blue-Wattled Crow, the New Zealand Falcon, and the Blue Duck, all of which call New Zealand home. The currency also features the Maori name for each bird to represent the country's native heritage.
This Central Asian country's currency is so aesthetically pleasing that it won the IBNS Banknote of the Year award three years in a row. The 10,000 Tenge note, released in 2011, commemorates 20 years of independence for the country. The primarily blue and purple note features the monument found in Independence Square in the capital city of Astana. The back of the note shows Astana's Presidential Palace and a map of the country. The 5,000 Tenge note, released in 2012, features orange and red hues with the same monument, Kazak Eli, surrounding by flying doves and a panther. The back of the banknote has a map of Kazakhstan and the Kazakhstan Hotel located in the former capital, Almaty. The award-winning 1,000 Tenge note from 2013 has even more vibrant colors and pays tribute to Kultegin — The Monument of the Turkic Runic Writing. The image of the monument stands beside the Kazak Eli monument, and, on the reverse side of the note, you can find petroglyphic drawings made by Turkic warriors.
Canada has a history of winning awards for their stunning currency. In 2018, the country won the IBNS Banknote of the Year award for their 10-dollar bill featuring the portrait of Viola Desmond, a social justice icon. The backside of the bill showcases the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, and it also has an excerpt from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Canada's previous 20-dollar bill also won the award in 2004 with its majestic portrait of Queen Elizabeth II done by artist Bill Reid. That Canadian 20-dollar note is highly coveted by those who collect paper currency because of its beauty.
The banknotes of Malaysia's currency have not won any awards from the IBNS. Still, they are so bright and colorful that they will certainly catch your eye. The Malaysian Ringgit, issued by the Bank Negara Malaysia, has six different denominations. Each comes in a different color, including red-orange, yellow, teal, blue, violet, and green. The front of each Malaysian banknote features a portrait of Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia's first leader after independence from British and Dutch rule. The front of the banknotes also feature the hibiscus, Malaysia's national flower. The rear side of each denomination features images of different landmarks, flora, fauna, and cultural items. Some examples include the Rafflesia, which is the world's largest flower, the rhinoceros hornbill, Malaysia's UNESCO sites, hawksbill turtles, and leatherback turtles.
In 2009, the Bermuda Monetary Authority redesigned the country's currency for the first time in 40 years. The IBNS awarded their two-dollar note Banknote of the Year. The note features the Bermuda Bluebird on the front of the bill and the Statue of Neptune and Bermuda's Dockyard Clock Tower below a butterfly on the reverse side. Each note also has a small portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the front. One of the most attractive features of Bermuda's currency, especially the two-dollar bill, is the way artists blended the colors throughout the design. With most shades of the rainbow making an appearance, the challenge will be parting with this currency during a trip to Bermuda.