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Designing the Euros
How do you design
a single currency for 12 nations with jealously guarded identities?
That was the task handed to Robert Kalina, an engraver at the
Austrian National Bank in Vienna, who was chosen over 46 other
applicants to design the euro banknotes. Governed by strict
guidelines from the EUNo portraits of historical
figures or designs attributed to any particular monument in
any single countryMr. Kalina choose the ages
and styles of Europe, as his theme and took European architecture
as his inspiration.
The seven notesin denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100,
200, and 500 euroseach signify seven periods of European
architecture: Classical, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque,
Iron, and Modern. The focal image on each note is a bridge,
symbolizing communication between the people of Europe.
Mr. Kalina could not risk giving prominence to a particular
country by using a specific bridge: Instead, by scanning pictures
of bridges from art history books, and using imaging software,
he took different parts of different bridges and created virtual
designs representing the various architectural styles.
The front of each banknote incorporates the EU flag framed by
12 stars and set on a map of the continent. Other architectural
elements on the front are windows and doors, symbolizing the
new and the open.
Each country's central bank was allowed design its own coins.
Most countries stuck with tradition and put faces on their coins:
Queen Beatrix adorns the eight Netherlands coins, King Juan
Carlos is on some of Spain's coins, Cervantés on the
others. Belgium has King Albert II on its coins. The Vatican,
which is not a member of the EU but is using the euro because
of its dependence on Itlay, released a limited edition set of
coins, featuring John Paul II. In Austria, a portrait of Mozart
decorates euro coins.
The Greek coins have a number of different images. Two of the
coins depict Europa being abducted by Zeus in the shape of a
bull. Another, the 1-cent coin, depicts an owl, in a design
taken from an ancient Athenian 4-drachma coin. Other designs
on the Greek coins include important historical political figures
and different ships reflecting Greece's maritime legacy.
As for Mr. Kalina, what does the future hold? I made myself
unemployed now, he joked in an interview with liberal
Parisian newspaper Le Monde. In fact, Mr. Kalina's employer,
the Austrian Central Bankwhile no longer designing schillingshas
contracts with a number of other countries to design their currencies
for them. He is currently at work designing a common currency