Banknote Production

Behind The Scenes of the New Canadian Banknote – Part 2

With just a few weeks to go before the first banknotes from Canada’s new series enters into circulation, here’s another article detailing a behind the scenes look at the development of the new polymer notes.

While a major goal of developing a new banknote series is to enhance security features, the design of the series also takes a central role.

“To launch a new banknote we need to address both the technical and the design requirements,” says Martine Warren, Scientific Adviser for the Bank of Canada. “While we recognize that it’s important for banknotes to be functional and secure, they’re a form of art as well.”

Throughout the planning stages of the new banknote series – a process that has been underway for nearly five years – officials from the Bank of Canada collected suggestions from Canadians for the artistic direction of the new notes. People from across the country participated in focus groups to brainstorm ideas for the new bills, and were asked to bring along items they identified as Canadian.

The $100 bill focuses on medical innovation and the country’s long-standing commitment to medical research. The new $50 notes, which enter into circulation in March 2012, feature the Canadian Coast Guard ship “Amundsen” – a ship that “has been a major catalyst in the revitalization of Canadian Arctic science by providing Canadian researchers and their international collaborators with the platform and the tools to facilitate unprecedented access to the Arctic Ocean,” according to a website dedicated to the ship.

Though the other notes in the series – the $20, $10 and $5 bills – have not been unveiled as they only enter into circulation late in 2013, but the Bank of Canada has revealed that the $20 bill will feature the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, the $10 bill will feature the Canadian train and the $5 bill will feature the Canadarm2.

Artistic merit, however, isn’t the only role these new images play. Coupled with the new polymer substrate, the ascetics of the banknotes also allow designers to integrate security features in new and exciting ways.

“One of the most unique and striking features is the large transparent window that can be seen from each side of the note,” says Ted Garanzotis, Head Scientist at the Bank of Canada.

On the new $100 banknote, the Parliament building – a quintessential Canadian landmark – is visible in this transparent window. Another transparent section of the note takes the form of a maple leaf.

Experts also drew upon the experience of other polymer banknotes from around the world when designing the new notes. Researchers consulted with security experts and searched the world for the most current developments in banknote design.

“We wanted to ensure that our banknotes were state of the art.” Says Garanzotis.

Learn more about the design process in this video put together by the Bank of Canada:

VIDEO: “The Life of a Bank Note: From the Lab to Your Wallet – Part 2: Design”
Bank Of Canada: “Banknotes”
“Bank Of Canada Invited Public Opinion On Banknote Design”


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