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The Capital - Ljubljana

General Info on Slovenia

Slovene Bank-notes and Coins

The appearance of money is, considering its quantity, distribution and permanent presence, one of the strongest visual projections of a state.

Slovenia introduced its own currency, the Slovene tolar (SIT), in October 1991. It became convertible in accordance with the standards of the International Monetary Fund in September 1995. Since then it has been well-established, with a relatively high level of stability and reputation.

The principal decision concerning the new Slovene money was the selection of the narrative features - the motif and story - to appear on the nine bank-notes (in denominations of 10 000, 5000, 1000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 20 and 10 tolars). The Bank of Slovenia and the Slovene Academy of Sciences and Arts chose personalities who were important in the history of the Slovene identity. And the decision also meant that work began for the designer Miljenko Licul.

Licul's fundamental idea was that money is the projection of the outcome of work, the reflection of newly-created material values. This is why the chosen personality is always represented as a motif set in the present time context, in the actual relation between creativity and its award. Each likeness is set in a triangle: the person who represents an important innovation in a certain sphere, then the field this person worked in, symbolised by certain tools, and the result of the relation person-tool. The triangle person-tool-product is therefore the basic idea behind the design of the new Slovene tolars.

A further level of layout includes the institution which the chosen person was more or less directly related to. The institution is usually represented by its architectural characteristics, the most complex record of different temporal and other impulses. An innovation in the representation of personalities on bank-notes are the portraits (all portraits are the work of Rudi Spanzel) which continue into silhouettes. The features of the face are thus also represented in profile, and the spatial aspect of the portrait gently continues into the surface of the note and further into the motifs in the triangle.

The largest bank-note (10,000 tolars) is dedicated to the author Ivan Cankar (1876-1918), the 5000-tolar bank-note to painter Ivana Kobilica (1861-1926) and the 1000-tolar bank-note is embellished by a portrait of France Prešeren (1800-1848), the greatest Slovene poet. The 500-tolar bank-note is dedicated to the architect Jože Plečnik (1800-1848), the 200 to the composer Jacobus Gallus (1550-1591), the 100 to the painter Rihard Jakopič (1869-1943). Then come the mathematician Jurij Vega (1754-1802) on the 50-tolar bank-note, on the 20 the chronicler Janez Vajkard Valvazor (1641-1693) and finally on the 10-tolars bank-note the writer of the first book in the Slovene language the Protestant reformer Primož Trubar (1508-1586).

The typographic material used on tolar notes is, in a way, a tribute to classicism - serif is used - but it does not reach back to the historical classicism. The same typography was successfully used on the Slovene passport (designed by Miljenko Licul) while on the notes the numeric value is, in terms of correspondence with the space-surface aspect of the image, extended into the third dimension.

The two basic ideas - the triangle person-tool-product and an implication of transience, the portrait continuing into a silhouette - are therefore upgraded with colours. The idea of having beautiful and cheerful bank-notes for the third millennium was drawn from guilders. Colourful liveliness incorporated in the story each note tells, is complemented by the tactile features of the paper produced in Radeče. In addition to the pleasant rustle the paper is also very durable.

Unlike the bank-notes which convey historical and cultural stories, the coins are characterised by motifs taken from nature. The animals depicted are all part of the ecosystem of this part of the world. (a goldenhorn, swallow, grasshopper, trout and proteus anguinus).

Tomaž Brate / MM, No. 4/92

500-tolar bank-note: a portrait of the architect Jože Plečnik in his typical apparel, silhouette with shaker hat Plečnik always wore; a pair of compasses as the tool and a circular ground plan as an aspect of his work; the front facade of the national and University Library in Ljubljana designed by Plečnik, with certain elements emphasised (a chair, a pillar with a lamp and the handle of the entrance door); the ground plan with a perspective adds to the dynamics of the whole. The colours (red and orange nuances prevail) follow the colour of the brick and stone facade of the Library.