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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

127) 75 Years (Platinum Jubilee) of the Indian Air Force celebrated in 2007: Commemorative coins released on the occasion:

127) 75 Years (Platinum Jubilee) of the Indian Air Force celebrated in 2007:
Commemorative coins released on the occasion:

Brief Introduction:

From the days of World War I, when adversary pilots waved out to each other, while on bombing and combat missions and shot down Aircraft meant almost certainly a brush with death, as there were no parachutes or similar mechanisms to bale out , and enemy pilots rarely attacked a pilot of a shot aircraft who had successfully made ground, and, then again,  in World War II, particular pilots marked one another for “dogfights” in order to show who was the better one of the two for brownie points during de-briefing sessions and drawing room conversations. Dogfights were fought at close quarters and pilots could visually recognize their adversary’s faces,  as well as the markings on the adversary’s propeller aircraft mentioning names, number of “kills”, and the nickname given to his/their aeroplane(s). (Period movies like “Flyboys” dramatically bring out these features).

The days of “visual” contact are long since gone. New standard communication and attack technologies have rendered the days of dogfights, at best, a glorious piece of flying history. Today, satellites link ships, helicopters, tanks, unmanned drones and “operations” are controlled from control panels on the ground.
Flight operations today require highly computer savvy pilots and aircraft, systems and weapons that enable acquisition and engaging/destruction of targets located several miles away so as to neutralise potential threats swiftly and effectively.

The Indian Air Force’s glorious history:
On 08.10.1932, the Indian Air Force was established when its formation was announced in the Gazette of India as an auxiliary Air Force of the British Empire, as a part of the Royal Air Force (RAF). No. 1 Squadron was formed at Drigh Road in Karachi on 01.04.1933 comprising six Indian officers under the command of a British officer. The Squadron had at its disposal four Westland Wapiti biplanes.

Image of a Westland Wapiti aircraft:

During 1939-45, the Indian Air Force took active part in Burma and Thailand against the Japanese army and also underwent an expansion with US built Vultee Vengeance, Douglas DC-3 and British Hawker Hurricane, Supermarine Spitfire and Westland Lysander aircraft being added to its Air-fleet.

In 1945, the prefix “Royal” was added as recognition of the Indian Air Force’s services during World War II.

In 1947, upon the Partition of India and Pakistan, out of the 10 operational squadrons, 3 were transferred to Pakistan and seven were retained by India, still operating under the designation “Royal Indian Air Force” (RIAF).

In 1947-48, the first test came for Independent India’s Royal Indian Air Force, when for the first time Transport Aircraft of the Indian Air Force saw full time deployment in operations over the control of the princely State of Jammu & Kashmir, which was in the nature of an “undeclared war” between India and Pakistan. Fighter Aircraft also saw action operating in extremely difficult mountainous terrain. The scale of operations during the one and a half years of operations was very intense and 32 officers and airmen made the ultimate sacrifice. The RIAF was awarded 4 Maha Vir Chakras and 29 Vir Chakras.

In 1950, when India became a Republic, the term “Royal” was dropped from the designation and it was, thereafter, called the “Indian Air Force” (IAF).

In 1960-1966, when Belgium’s rule in the Congo ended, utter chaos and lawlessness set in, with the prosperous province of Katanga breaking away from the Congo and efforts were being made to reunite Katanga with the Congo, as well as to restore law and order. When these failed, by 1961,the situation had deteriorated so much that the United Nations had to intervene and Indian troops and military Aircraft were sent by India as part of the UN Peace keeping Force to maintain law and order (Canberras were sent for this purpose). The Indian Aircraft, operating from Leopoldville and Kamina  made several successful sorties over Katanga’s Airfield at Kolwezi, effectively immobilised the rebel Air Force  and helped to contain a massive build-up of the Katangese Army in other areas (which also included several foreign mercenaries) and acquitted themselves with credit.

In 1961, the Indian Armed Forces carried out a military operation to liberate Goa, Daman and Diu from Portuguese rule. The War for Goa was over in three days, while the War for Daman & Diu lasted only one day, resulting in the Portuguese completely withdrawing from these territories. My uncle was then a lieutenant in the Indian Army and participated in the Goa liberation on the ground. I remember seeing a couple of Portuguese Flags/Coat of Arms, which he had brought back as souvenirs. The Indian Air Force participated effectively in this operation by attacking and destroying specific targets in support of the Indian Army’s advance and employed their Jet power for the first time on a massive scale.

During the Chinese War in July 1962, the first aircraft ever to land and then again take-off from an airstrip at Daulat Beg Oldie, on the Chinese border, at the height of 17000 feet was an American supplied Fairfield Packet (Fixed Wing) Aircraft, flown by Squadron Leader CKS Raje, who set a record for the World's highest landing at that time, which created history in the annals of aviation. Thereafter the Airstrip was routinely used from 1962-1965, when it was abandoned due to damage by an earthquake. Despite its battle-preparedness, the Indian military planners failed to deploy and effectively use the Indian Air Force against the invading Chinese forces, resulting in India losing significant advantage/territory to the Chinese.

In 1965, Pakistan launched “Operation Gibraltar”, which was a surprise invasion into India and is also termed the “Second Kashmir War” by some analysts. This was the first time that the Indian Air Force actively engaged an enemy Air force and carried out independent raids against Pakistani Air bases. The Pakistan Air Force had much superior technological superiority over the Indian Air Force and achieved substantial strategic and tactical advantage due to the sudden attack and full support from the USA and Britain. However, despite the fact that the IAF was restrained from attacking the PAF in the Western Sector as  a substantial part of the IAF was deployed in the Eastern Sector, for fear of a simultaneous attack from China, the IAF effectively prevented the PAF from gaining any Air superiority over the conflict zones.

Although, India’s Aircraft losses in the War were higher than Pakistan’s, the small, but nimble IAF “Folland Gnats” were highly effective against the F-86 Sabres” of the PAF, earning it the nickname “Sabre slayers”.

In 1966, a Para Commandos regiment was created and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) laid stress on manufacturing effective fighter aircraft.

In 1971, The Indian Air Force participated in the “Bangladesh Liberation War. On 22.11.1971, 10 days before the start of a full scale war with Pakistan, four Pakistan Air Force (PAF) F-86 Sabre Jets attacked Indian and Mukti Bahini positions at Garibpur, near the International border. Two of the four attacking jets were shot down and one of them severely crippled by the Indian Air force’s Folland Gnats.
I remember that I was studying in La Martiniere College, Lucknow and the first day of the “air battles” are etched in every student’s memory when the first Sabre shot down by a Folland Gnat, went to the credit of one of the Keelor brothers from our College. Our “proud” English teacher was a class-mate of the distinguished IAF pilot and we spent the whole day celebrating the achievement.

Stung badly by this humiliation, once again, the PAF attacked several Indian Air force installations, but the IAF struck several crippling retaliatory blows to the PAF, whereafter, the PAF stuck to mostly defensive sorties. The IAF carried out more than 6000 sorties in East & West Pakistan and strategic bombings in West Pakistan. During the Battle of Longewala more than 29 Pakistani tanks, 29 APCs and a Railway train were knocked out of action by the IAF and oil installations at Karachi and a dam and gas plant in Sindh et al. In all almost 100 PAF Aircraft were shot down out of which more than 50% were Sabres. Almost 100000 Pakistani troops surrendered in the then East Pakistan to the combined efforts of the IAF and Indian Army.
I remember that my uncle, then a Major in the Infantry commanded a Prisoner of War (POW) Train to the POW Camp in Agra and my grandparents arranged for food for the entire train when it halted at Lucknow, when we all went to meet him during the halt. The escorting Indian soldiers only had food after all the Pakistani POWs on board the train were fed, in true Indian hospitality!!

In 1984, India launched Operation Meghdoot to capture the Siachen Glacier in the contested Kashmir region. Once again IAF Helicopters airlifted hundreds of troops to Siachen. The Indian Forces facing little opposition took control over most of the heights on the Glacier.

In 1987, “Operation Poomalai” (or Operation “Garland” or “Eagle”) was launched in Sri Lanka in which IAF Aircraft dropped supplies on humanitarian grounds to beleaguered Tamilians on the ground.

Sri Lanka operation in 1987-1990: The Indian involvement in Sri Lanka saw the largest air effort by the Indian Air Force in air maintenance and counter-insurgency support to the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) totalling about 70000 sorties by transport, helicopter and fighter aircraft without any losses to enemy fire. I also remember that we had dinner at a Brigadier’s bungalow at the Lucknow Cantonment and two days later, we were taken by surprise, when he appeared on International Television briefing the Press, while leading the IPKF Operations outside Jaffna Fort. This was also the last operation that my uncle participated in, this time as a Colonel.

In 1988, the Indian Air Force undertook “Operation Cactus” a special operation to airlift a parachute battalion group non-stop over 2000 Km to the remote Indian Ocean archipelago of the Maldives to help the President of the Island nation counter a threat from a mercenary invasion. The paratroopers as a result of the swift IAF response restored Government Rule at Male within a few hours.

Early in May 1999, the Indian Army discovered large scale infiltration by Pakistani soldiers across the Line of Control (LOC) into Indian Territory in the Kargil sector. The defence initiatives take by the Indian Armed Forces are now a part of history, under the name of “Operation Vijay”. The IAF Operations were code-named “Operation Safed Sagar”.

The Indian Air Force provided Battlefield close support, logistical supply and casualty evacuation along with the Army Aviation units. Three officers and two airmen made the ultimate sacrifice. The IAF for its operations with distinction earned two Vir Chakras and 23 Vayu Sena medals.

In 2009, the IAF also has raised a special Commando Force called “Garud Commando Force” (named after a divine mythical bird of Hindu Mythology) equipped to undertake combat search and rescue missions, rescue of downed airmen and other forces from behind enemy lines, suppression of enemy air defence (SEAD), radar busting, combat control, missile and munitions guidance, lasing of targets etc.

On 20.08.2013, the IAF once again performed the highest landing of a C-130J Aircraft (primarily a transport Aircraft), belonging to the Veiled Vipers squadron based at Hindon Air Force Station, at the Daulat Beg Oldie Airstrip in Ladakh, at a height of about 17000 Feet, 41 years after the first landing of the modified Packet Aircraft mentioned under the Chinese War in 1962 section above, making it a world-record for a medium-lift Aircraft landing at this altitude.

The Indian Air Force Logo/roundel:

The logo has evolved through four emblems over the years of its existence:

                                        Ensign of the Indian Air Force (IAF)

                                     The present Indian Air Force Roundel
The First roundel/logo served it from 1933-1942, the second logo was used from 1942 to 1945, the third logo was in use from 1947 to 1950 (patterned on the Ashoka Chakra) and the fourth and present logo has been used by the IAF since 1950.
                    The Indian Air Force Fin Flash

The Mission of the IAF:
“Defence of India and every part thereof including preparation for defence and all such acts as may be conducive in times of war to its prosecution and after its termination to effective demobilisation”.

Overview of the IAF Structure:
Today, the Indian Air Force has five operational Commands, each one headed by an AOC-in-C (Air Officer Commander-in-Chief) of the rank of Air Marshal. The IAF also, has two additional Commands – Training Command and Maintenance Command – to maintain a uniform standard in training and maintenance. Air Headquarters is located at New Delhi commanded by the Chief of Air Staff, which controls all administrative functions of the Indian Air Force and has overall control over the various Commands.

Indian Air Force Bases are categorised into the following types – Operational Units like Wings, Forward Base Support Units & Care and Maintenance Units, while, Non-Operations Units have Air Force Stations (like the one next to our residence in Pune), Base Repair Depots and others not categorised as Operational Units.

Squadrons and Helicopter Units The Indian Air Force has come a long way from the days of its inception in Karachi on 01.04.1933. A number of Squadrons, Flights and Units have been raised totalling over 225. With the exception of a few SA-2 Squadrons raised in the mid-sixties, all other Squadrons operate either fixed wing aircraft or helicopters. There are, in addition to the above Squadrons, several Missile Squadrons, Radar Units, Equipment Depots, and OrBATs etc.

There are several other training (DASI, AEB etc.) and operational establishments (Flying, Technical, Administrative and Medical etc).

The Indian Air Force also operates the “Integrated Space Cell” together with the two other branches of the Indian Armed Forces, as well as the civilian Department of Space (DOS) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to utilise India’s space-based assets for military purposes more effectively.

Names of some active Aircraft used by the Indian Air Force:

Some Fixed Wing Aircraft:
Sukhoi Su-30MKI (Air superiority fighter), Mikoyan MiG–29 (Air superiority fighter – but susceptible to several losses in peace-time crashes leading to upgrading its Air capabilities), Dassault Mirage 2000 (Multi-role combat aircraft – also under upgradation in the current decade), HAL Tejas (Multi role Aircraft), Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 (Fighter aircraft – upgraded “Bisons” to be phased out by 2025, MiG-21 FL has been phased out), Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-27 (Ground Attack aircraft to be phased out by 2017), SEPECAT Jaguar (Ground Attack aircraft), Beriev A-50 Phalcon (AEW&C), EMB-145 AEWCS (AEW&C), Gulfstream III (Reconnaissance), Ilyushin II-78 MKI (Tanker Aircraft), C-17 Globemaster (Strategic Airlift), Ilyushin II-76 Candid (Strategic Airlift), C-130J Super Hercules (Tactical Airlift), Antonov An-32 Cline (Tactical Airlift), Hawker Siddeley HS 748 (Airliner – Passenger), Boeing 737 (Airliner – Passenger), Dornier Do 228 (Utility transport), IAI Astra 1125 (VIP Transport), BAE Hawk (Advanced jet trainer), HAL HJT-16 Kiran (Jet Trainer), Pilatus PC-7 (Basic Trainer), HAL HPT-32 Deepak (Basic trainer).
Some Helicopters:
HAL Rudra (Attack Helicopter), HAL Light Combat Helicopter (Attack Helicopter), Mil Mi-35 Hind-E (Attack Helicopter – being replaced by Boeing AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopters), Mil Mi-8/Mi-17 (Transport Helicopter), Mil Mi-26 Halo (Transport helicopter), AgustaWestland  AW101 (Transport Helicopter), HAL Dhruv (Utility Helicopter), HAL Cheetah (Utility Helicopter), HAL Chetak (Utility Helicopter).

Indian Naval Air Arm:
Some Aircraft:
Mikoyan MiG-29K (Multirole combat aircraft), BAE sea Harrier (Fighter aircraft), BAE Hawk, (Trainer Aircraft), Boeing P-8 Poseidon (Maritime Patrol), Tupelev (Bomber), Ilyushin II-38 May (Maritime Patrol), Dornier Do 228 (Utility Aircraft), HAL HJT-16 Kiran (Trainer Aircraft), HAL HPT-32 Deepak (Trainer Aircraft).

Some Helicopters:
Kamov Ka-31 Helix-B (Airborne Early Warning), Westland Sea King (Anti-submarine, Search & Rescue, Utility Transport), Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King (Anti-submarine warfare Utility Helicopter), Kamov Ka-25 Hormone (Anti-submarine warfare), Kamov Ka-28 Helix-A (Anti-submarine warfare), Aerospatiale SA 316 Aloutte III (Utility Helicopter), HAL Dhruv (Utility helicopter).

Army Aviation Corps (India):
HAL Rudra (Attack Helicopter), HAL Light Combat Helicopter (Attack Helicopter), HAL Dhruv (Utility Helicopter), HAL Lancer (Light Attack Helicopter), HAL Chetak (Utility Helicopter), HAL Cheetah (Utility Helicopter), Mi-10V Hip (Transport Helicopter).

Aircraft used by the Indian Coast Guard:
HAL Dhruv (Utility Aircraft), HAL Chetak (Utility Helicopter), Dornier Do 228 (Maritime Surveillance Search and Rescue).

UAVs (Unmanned Air Vehicle)/UCAVs (Unmanned Combat air Vehicle) in use in the Indian Armed Forces:

IAI Harpy (UCAV – A small UCAV that homes in on enemy radar emissions destroying both itself and the enemy radar), IAI Harop (UCAV – acts similar to the IAI Harpy). Both Aircraft are used by the Indian Air Force.  IAI Heron (UAV – being used by the IAF and the Indian Navy), DRDO Lakshya (Target Drone – A small Drone in use by both the IAF and the Indian Navy), IAI Searcher (UAV – being used by the Indian Army).

Names of Aircraft used by the Indian Air Force (IAF) in the past:

Hawker Tempest, Hawker Hurricane, Supermarine Spitfire, de Havilland Vampire, Dassault Ouragan (Toofani – phased out in 1965), Dassault Mystere IV (phased out in 1973), Hawker Hunter (Trainer aircraft), Folland Gnat (built by HAL), HAL Ajeet (phased out in 1991), MiG-23 MF (phased out in 2007).

Ground Attack/Bombers:
Vultee Vengeance, Consolidated B-24J Liberator (phased out in 1967), HAL HF-24 Marut (Phased out in 1985), Sukhoi Su-7 Fitter-140, English Electric Canberra (Phased out in 2007), MiG-23BN (phased out in 2009).

Hawker Audax (Phased out in 1939), English Electric Canberra (Phased out in 2007), MiG-25 (phased out in 2006).

HAL HT-2, PZL TS-11 Iskra (Phased out by 2004), North American Harvard 4, de Havilland Tiger Moth, Percival Prentice, Fairchild PT-19.

Transport aircraft:
Douglas C-47 Dakota, de Havilland Devon, Ilyushin II-14, de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter, de Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou, de Havilland Dragonfly, Fairchild C-119G Flying Boxcar, Lockheed Super Constellation, Tupolev Tu-124, Antonov An-12.

Sikorsky S-55 Whirlwind, Bell 47 G-2, Mil Mi-4.

General purpose:
Westland Wapiti, Westland Lysander.
Platinum Jubilee celebrations:
The 75thAnniversary of the Indian Air Force was celebrated on 08.10.2007. An Air Display by 75 Aircraft formed a part of the Indian Air Force investiture (formal installation or setting up) ceremony in Hindon and Ghaziabad. An impressive array of active IAF aircraft and men participated in the celebrations.

The flying display also included performances by a Streak Shadow microlite Aircraft, a para-motor and aero-models as well as a paradrop by 75 members of the Akash Ganga Team marking the 75th Platinum Jubilee year of the IAF. Three Mi-17 Helicopters carried the IAF ensign at the display. There was also the “Warrior Drill” team displaying Arm Drills. In Microlite Aircraft were the pilots who created a world record for flying around the World in 80 Days (akin to Jules Verne’s – Around the world in Eighty Days – An uncanny case of fact mixing with fiction). There was also drills/formations carried out by Mi-26, ALH, Cheetah, Mi-35 helicopters and Avro, An-32, Dornier, Il-78 refuelling tanker, Mirage, Jaguar, MiG Bison, MiG-23, MiG-29,Mirage-2000, Su-30 MKI, Su-30 Mki, etc and the renowned “Surya Kiran” (Sun’s Rays) team of nine aircraft (the team consists of 13 pilots operating 9 HAL HJT-16 Kiran Mk.2 trainer aircraft painted in a “day-glo orange and white colour scheme”, having the status of a Squadron based at Bidar) displaying breath-taking formations and “Sarang” (meaning “Peacock”) , the Helicopter display team of 4 IAF Helicopters (based in Coimbatore). A Searcher UAV stayed airborne throughout the entire celebrations.

Commemorating the high standards set by the Indian Air Force:

In 1972, a LP (Long Playing) Record was released by the Indian Air Force Band just after the 1971 War extolling the feats and valour of the IAF.

In 1982, a set of 12 Match Boxes in a special box were issued to commemorate the Golden Jubilee Celebrations (50th Anniversary of its Formation) of the IAF in 1982. The larger box had a brief history of the Indian Air Force mentioned on the reverse and on the 12 Match boxes there were profiles of 12 types of Aircraft flown by the Indian Air Force during its history.

In the same year, various other collectibles all of them novel in conception and execution were also issued, including a special “Liquor bottle” showing the Lion Capitol emblem of the Government of India, below which was represented the emblem/logo of the Indian Air Force. Around this depiction was a formation of IAF Aircraft flying a sortie.

Several First Day covers, stamps, special covers and brochures have been issued by the Indian Postal Services under their Philately Programme from time to time.

I have in my stamp collection a miniature sheet of the Brahmos Cruise missile. The sheet shows the battle-readiness of the IAF along with the other two Wings of the Indian Armed Forces.
In 2007, to commemorate the platinum Jubilee of the  setting up of the Indian Air Force, No.4 Squadron got a Commemorative Medal/coin minted in the USA on the lines of the “Challenge Coins” available in the USA. This “coin” featured the emblem of the Oorials one side and their motto “Maan par Jaan” (in Hindi/Urdu – meaning “Ready to pay the ultimate sacrifice to defend one’s honour”).

Commemorative Coins issued by the Reserve Bank of India/India Government Mints:
In 2007, to commemorate the 75th Year of formation of the Indian Air force, a Rupees 100 and Rupees 2 coin set was issued by the Kolkata Mint both in Proof as well as Uncirculated sets. The 2 (two) rupee coin was also released for general circulation.

The above is an image of the cover of the two coin album (Proof set) issued by the India Government Mint, Kolkata . The album cover mentions “75 Years – Indian Air force Platinum Jubilee 1932-2007”.

The Back of the above coin album showing several coins issued to commemorate the occasion in the denominations of Rs.100/- and Rs.2/-.

The Obverse of the two coins displayed in the Coin Album showing the denomination of the coins – Rs.100/- and Rs.2/-, along with the Asoka Capitol emblem of the Government of India, with the words “Satyameva Jayate” (Truth always Prevails” – a slogan coined by Mahamana Madan Mohan Malaviya, the founder of the Banaras Hindu University).

The Obverse of the Rs.100 coin issued on the occasion.

The Obverse of the Rs.two coin issued on the occasion.

The Reverse of the two coins, Rupees 100/- and Rupees 2/- both showing two Aircraft. The one on the bottom is the classic Wapiti Aircraft and the one on the top is the SU-30 MKI, signifying that the Air capabilities have grown significantly of the IAF,  since the early days of its creation.

The Reverse of the Rs.100/- coin displayed individually. On the left and right periphery is the inscription “INDIAN AIR FORCE” (in English) and “Bhartiya Vayu Sena” (in Hindi) respectively. On the top and bottom periphery are the words “Platinum Jubilee”, in Hindi and Engish respectively. The years 1932-2007 are mentioned below the Wapiti Aircraft engraving.

The Reverse of the Rs.2/- coin displayed individually showing the same inscriptions as the above coin.

Coin specifications:

Rupees One Hundred (Rs.100/-) coin:

Shape & outside Diameter: Circular, 44 mm; No. of serrations: 200;

Weight: 35 gms; Metal Composition: Quaternary Alloy: Silver- 50%, Copper- 40%, Nickel- 5%, Zinc- 5%.

Rupees Two (Rs.2/-) coin:

Shape & outside Diameter: Circular, 27mm; No. of serrations:Nil;

Weight: 5.62 gms; Metal Composition: Iron- 83%, Chromium- 17%.
 A Miniature sheet of stamps issued in 2007, celebrating the Platinum Jubilee of the Indian Air Force (1932-2007), showing  a Dhruv Helicopter (stamp of 500 Paise or Rs.5/-) , A Wapiti  aircraft (stamp of 500 Paise or Rs.5/-), an AWAC (stamp of 500 Paise or Rs.5/-) and an IL-78 (stamp of 1500 Paise or Rs.15/-)


 (The above coins are from the collection of Jayant Biswas. Coins scanned and Article researched and written by Rajeev Prasad).

Saturday, 21 December 2013

126) Currency and Coinage of Hungary: Forints & Fillers: Forint “Papirpenz” (Banknotes) and Forint “Ermek” (Coins) in Hungarian:

126) Currency and Coinage of Hungary: Forints  & Fillers:

 Forint “Papirpenz” (Banknotes) and Forint “Ermek” (Coins) in Hungarian:

About Hungary:

Situated in Central Europe, Hungary is a member of the European Union and the Schengen Border-less Europe Agreement. The Hungarians (also known as the “Magyars”) are descended from several peoples/tribes of Central Asia, who were mostly nomadic horsemen and settled in Central Europe some 1500 years ago.

It is among the top 20 tourist destinations in the World, with its Capital Budapest being regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the World. Hungary has several World Heritage Sites, UNESCO Biosphere reserves, “Lake Heviz” (the second largest thermal lake in Central Europe), “Lake Balaton” (the largest lake in Central Europe) and “Hortobagy” (the largest natural grassland in Europe), “Aggtelek” (having beautiful caves with dripstones and stalagmites).
Among other attractions, Hungary offers are “Szechenyi Medicinal Bath” (the largest medicinal bath in Europe), “Godollo” (the second largest Baroque castle in the World), “Pecs” (the largest Early Christian Necropolis outside Italy), “Esztergom Basilica” (the third largest church in Europe), the “Great Synagogue” ( the largest Synagogue in Europe) the “third largest Underground” in the World (after New York and London).

Hungarian Forint:
The “Forint” is the currency of Hungary, subdivided into 100 “Filler” – derived from the German word “Heller”. 

The name Forint originated from the city of Florence where gold coins were minted in the 1200s called “Fiorino D’oro” (meaning the “Florin” made of “D’oro” or “duoro” or “made of gold”). 

In the 1300s in Hungary, “florentinus” (or “Forint”) was circulating as a gold based currency during the reign of Charles Robert and its use was emulated by several countries which had similar circulating coins.

Between 1867 and 1892, the Forint (subdivided into 100 “Krajczar”) was circulating widely in Hungary as the currency of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In German it was called the “gulden”.

Between 1892 and 1926, Korona coins/Banknotes were in circulation in Hungary. Under this currency, 10 and 20 Filler coins and 1, 2, 25 and 200 Korona Banknotes were issued.

From 1927 to 1946 Pengo coins/Banknotes were in circulation. Pengo (literal meaning “ringing”, actually referred to silver coins which made a ringing sound when they struck on a hard surface). The Pengo was subdivided into 100 fillers. Pengo coins were issued in the denominations of 1, 2, 10, 20 and 50 Filler and 1 Pengo. Banknotes of the Pengo were issued in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 1000 Pengo. Later due to hyperinflation these were issued in denominations between 10000 to 1 billion Pengo.

In 1946, Adopengo coins/Banknotes (literal meaning “tax Pengo”) were circulating briefly to replace the Pengo and shore up the currency. However, this currency also suffered severely from hyperinflation. Banknotes of the Adopengo were also circulating in the denominations of 10000 to 100 million Adopengo.

On 01.08.1946, the Forint was reintroduced after the “Pengo” was rendered worthless due to hyper-inflation. The denominations introduced were 2, 10, 20 fillers and 1, 2 and 5 Forints.

In 1947, a silver 5 Forint coin was introduced (withdrawn about a year later), followed by 5 and 50 filler coins in 1948.

In 1967, a 5 Forint coin was reissued.

In 1971, a 10 Forint coin was circulated.

In 1982, a 20 Forint coin was introduced.

Four Series of coins have been issued by Hungary since 1946:

The First Series of coins ( also, called the “Second Republic issues” – 1946-1948):

The first coins minted in 1946 were made of copper alloys (in the case of 2, 10 and 20 Filler coins), aluminium (in the case of 5 and 50 Filler, 1 and 2 Forint coins) and silver (in the case of 5 Forint coins).

The 2, 10, 20 Filler and 1 Forint coins carried an inscription “MAGYAR ALLAMI VALTOPENZ” (meaning “Hungarian state token coin”, with Valtopenz meaning “small change”) while the 5 and 50 Filler and 2 and 5 Forint coins carried an inscription “MAGYAR KOZTARSASAG” (meaning “Hungarian Republic”). The edge inscription on the 5 Forint coins read “MUNKA A NEMZETI JOLET ALAPJA” (meaning “Labour is the ground of National Welfare”) or “MAPV” (meaning “Magyar Allami Penzverde” or “Hungarian State Mint”).

The coins predominantly carried the Kossuth Coat of Arms and variously depicted images representing workers with implements, dove of peace etc. 

During 1948, three circulating Commemorative silver coins were issued in the denominations of 5 Forint (commemorating Sandor Petofi and carrying an edge inscription “ESKUSZUNK ESKUSZUNK” –  meaning “We vow, we vow”), 10 Forint (commemorating Istvan Szechenyi carrying an edge inscription “A LEGNAGYOBB MAGYAR EMLEKERE” – meaning “to commemorate the greatest Hungarian” and a 20 Forint coin (commemorating Mihaly Tancsics).

The Second Series of coins (also called the “People’s Republic issues” – 1949-1989):

In 1949, the Communist Party came into power. The country’s name was changed to “MAGYAR NEPKOZTARSASAG” (meaning “Hungarian People’s Republic” which was also carried on the coins. The Kossuth Coat of Arms was replaced by the Rakosi Coat of Arms and later the Kadar Coat of Arms

Circulating coins issued under this Series were 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 Fillers and 1, 2, 5 10 and 20 Forints.

Commemorative coins   issued under this Series in the denomination of 20 Fillers, and 5 and 10 Forints variously carrying liberty and food symbols including FAO logo

The Third Series of Coins (also called the “Third Republic Issues” – 1989-2011:

In 1992, a new Series of coins was introduced in the denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 Forint, as well as, a 200 Forint silver coin. During the same year, minting of 2 and 5 filler coins was stopped and these denominations were withdrawn from circulation by 1999.

In 1998, the silver 200 Forint coins were withdrawn because it was not cost-effective to mint them.

After February 2008, the 1 and 2 Forint coins were withdrawn due to inflationary pressures. Since then, all cash transactions are rounded off to the nearest 5 Forint. 

In June 2009, a 200 Forint coin was circulated to replace the 200 Forint Banknotes.

The reverse designs on the circulating coins issued from 1992 onwards under this Series, carried the denominational value of the coins, year of minting and the mint mark.

The obverse designs all carried the inscription “MAGYAR KOZTARSASAG”, as well as the following designs – 2 Filler (year of minting), 5 Filler (young female model), 10 Filler (Dove carrying an olive branch), 20 Filler (3 ears of wheat), 50 Filler (Erzsebet Bridge), 1 Forint (Hungarian Coat of Arms), 2 Forint (Hungarian Colchicum). 

The following denominations are represented through actual coin images:

On the obverse, the 5 Forint coin shows a Great Egret or “Egretta alba”. This coin was minted in 2003.

The Reverse image of the 5 Forint coin.

The specifications of this coin are Diameter: 21.2 mm; Weight: 4.2 gms., Metal composition: Copper: 75%; Zinc: 21% and Nickel: 4%.

On the obverse, the 10 Forint coin shows the Hungarian Coat of Arms. This coin was minted in 2005. 

The Reverse image of the 10 Forint coin.

The specifications of this coin are Diameter: 24.8 mm; Weight: 6.1 gms., Metal composition: Copper: 75% and Nickel: 25%.

On the obverse, the 20 Forint coin shows a Stool Iris or “Iris aphylla”. This coin was minted in 2005.

The Reverse image of the 20 Forint coin.

The specifications of this coin are Diameter: 26.3 mm; Weight: 6.9 gms., Metal composition: Copper: 75%; Zinc: 21% and Nickel: 4%.

On the obverse, the 50 Forint coin shows a Saker Falcon or “Falco cherrug”. This coin was minted in 1995.

The Reverse image of the 50 Forint coin.

The specifications of this coin are Diameter: 27.4 mm; Weight: 7.7 gms., Metal composition: Copper: 75% and Nickel: 25%.

On the obverse, the 100 Forint coin shows the Hungarian Coat of Arms. This coin was minted in 2004.

The Reverse image of the 100 Forint coin

The specifications of this coin are Diameter: 29.2 mm; Weight: 9.4 gms., Metal composition: Copper: Steel Ring: Nickel plated; Centre: 75% and Zinc: 25%. 

On the obverse, the 200 Forint coin shows the Szechenyi Chain Bridge. This coin was minted in 2009.

The Reverse image of the 200 Forint coin.

The specifications of this coin are Diameter: 32.0 mm; Weight: 12.0 gms., Metal composition: Silver and then again bimetallic.

Commemorative coins were issued under this series – 10 Forint honouring Atilla Jozsef), 20 Forint (honouring Ferenc Deak) and five 50 Forint coins (variously representing the European Union, logo of the International Children’s Safety Service, the logo of the Hungarian Red Cross, the Parliament, the Treaty of Rome with the paving design of Piazza Del Campidoglio in Rome), and 100 Forint (honouring Lajos Kossuth).

The Fourth Series of coins (also called the “Hungary Regular issues” – 2012 onwards):

Hungary’s Constitution which came into effect from 01.01.2012 changed the country’s name from “MAGYAR KOSTARSASAG” (Hungarian Republic to “MAGYARORSZAG” (Hungary). Although Hungary is still a Republic, this does not appear anymore on its latest coinage and MAGYARORSZAG” appears on the obverse faces of all denominations of coins. The reverse of all these coins shows the denominational value of the coins as well as the mint mark.

The obverse of the 5 (Five) Forint coin also shows a “Great Egret” (Egretta alba), as in the immediately preceding issues. The specifications of this coin are: Diameter: 21.2 mm, Weight: 4.2.gms Metal composition: Copper: 75%; Zinc: 21% and Nickel: 4%.

The obverse of the 10 (Ten) Forint coin also shows the “Hungarian Coat of Arms”, as in the immediately preceding issues. The specifications of this coin are: Diameter: 24.8 mm, Weight: 6.1 gms, Metal composition: Copper: 75% and Nickel: 25%.

The obverse of the 20 (Twenty) Forint coin also shows a ”Stool Iris”(Iris aphylla), as in the immediately preceding issues. The specifications of this coin are: Diameter: 26.3 mm, Weight: 6.9 gms , Metal composition: Copper: 75%, Zinc: 21% and  Nickel: 4%.

The obverse of the 50 (Fifty) Forint coin also shows a sitting “Saker Falcon” (Falco cherrug), as in the immediately preceding issues. The specifications of this coin are: Diameter: 27.4 mm, Weight: 7.7 gms , Metal composition: Copper: 75%, and  Nickel: 25%.

The obverse of the 100 (Hundred) Forint coin also shows the “Hungarian Coat of Arms”, as in the immediately preceding issues. The specifications of this coin are: Diameter: 23.8 mm, Weight: 8.0 gms, Metal composition: Outer Ring: steel plated; Inner Ring: Copper: 75%, Zinc: 25%.

The obverse of the 200 (Hundred) Forint coin also shows the “Szechenyi Bridge”, as in the immediately preceding issues. The specifications of this coin are: Diameter: 28.3 mm, Weight: 9.0 gms, Metal composition: Bimetallic.

Commemorative silver issues under this Series:

3000 Forint (Commemorating Madach Imre) and 5000 Forint (commemorating Jozsef Remenyi) were issued in 2012.

Banknotes of the Hungarian Forint:

Banknotes of the Hungarian Forint are also called “Forint Papirpenz” in Hungarian.

Three Series of Hungarian Forint Banknotes have been issued so far.

The “1946 Series” (or the First Series):

Only two denominations of Banknotes were circulated in this Series in August 1946

On the front of the 10 (ten) Forint Banknote was a worker holding a hammer, while on the Back, was the, then, Coat of Arms of Hungary.

On the Front of the 100 (hundred) Forint Banknote was a woman holding a sickle and ears of wheat, while on the Back was an image of hands holding a hammer and ears of wheat.

The “1947 Series” (or the Second Series):

Under this series, four different Coats of Arms were depicted. “Kossuth’s Coat of Arms” (Banknotes first printed on 27.02.1947), “Rakosi’s Coat of Arms” (Banknotes first printed on 24.10.1949), “Kadar’s Coat of Arms” (Banknotes first printed on 23.05.1957) and “latest/present Coat of Arms” (Banknotes first printed on 31.07.1990 and in 1992). 

a) Banknotes issued with the “Kossuth’s Coat of Arms”:

Three denominations were issued under “Kossuth’s Coat of Arms”:

The Front of the 10 (ten) Forint Banknote depicted Sandor Petofi while the Back showed Janos Janko’s painting “Riverside scene”.

(Sandor Petofi (01.01.1823-31.07.1849): He was a Hungarian poet and liberal revolutionary. He is considered to be Hungary’s National poet and was one of the key figures of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. He is the author of the “Nemzeti dal” (National Song) which inspired the revolution in the Kingdom of Hungary that grew into a war for Independence from the Austrian Empire. He was probably, martyred in the Battle of Segewvar with the Russian Imperial Army, one of the last few battles of the war. Several statues, memorials and streets have been named after him including a statue in Budapest).

(Janos Janko (1833-1896): He was a Hungarian painter and graphicist. He taught Graphics while still at High School and became renowned for his skill to draw caricatures, which were published in several humour magazines).

The Front of the 20 (twenty) Forint Banknote depicted Gyorgy Dozsa while the Back showed a scantily clad male posing as the penthathelete Istvan Hegedus with a hammer and an ear of wheat.

(Gyorgy Dozsa (1470-1514): was a Szekely Hungarian nobleman from Transylvania in Hungary, who led a peasant’s revolt against the Kingdom’s landed nobility. He was eventually caught, barbarically tortured and executed along with several of his followers. He is remembered as a Christian martyr. A statue of the Virgin Mary was erected at the site of Dozsa’s torture and martyrdom in 1865 and later a monument was raised in 1906. Several streets in Hungarian villages bear his name as a tribute to his sacrifice).

The Front of the 100 (hundred) Forint Banknote, depicts Lajos Kossuth while the Back showed Karoly Lotz’s famous painting “Flight from the Thunderstorm”.

(Lajos Kossuth de Udvard et Kossuthfalva or Louis Kossuth (19.09.1802-20.03.1894): was a Hungarian lawyer, journalist, politician and Regent-President of the Kingdom of Hungary during the Revolution of 1848-49. He was widely honoured during his lifetime including in the U.K. and the USA as a freedom fighter and bellwether of democracy in Europe and hailed as the “Father of Hungarian Democracy, Hungarian Statesman and Freedom Fighter”. The main square of Budapest with the Hungarian Parliament Building is named after him and the Kossuth Memorial stands there. Several statues in Slovakia, Romania, Serbia, Canada and the USA are named in his memory. A bust of Kossuth sits in the United States Capitol in Washington D.C. and Kossuth County in Iowa is named after him, along with several other parks and memorials).

(Karoly Anton Paul Lotz (16.10.1833-13.10.1904): He was a German-Hungarian painter. He was a Professor at various Art Academies in Budapest and also a Dean of a Department for teaching women painters. He had several well-known paintings to his credit, his last important contribution being “Apotheosis of the Habsburg Dynasty” a ceiling fresco in the Habsburg Room of the Royal Palace, painted in 1903, which follows the traditions of the Baroque Court).

b) Banknotes issued with the “Rakosi Coat of Arms”/Badge:

Four denominations were issued under the “Rakosi Coat of Arms”/Badge. While retaining the three denominations 10, 20 and 100 Forint Banknotes,  and designs issued under the Kossuth Coat of Arms, a new denomination of 50 Forint Banknote was added.

The Front of the 50 (fifty) Forint Banknote depicted a portrait of Ferenc II Rakoczi painted by Adam Manyoki, while the Back showed an anonymous painter’sKuruc-labanc battle scene”.

(Adam Manyoki 1673-1757): He was one of the most significant Hungarian Baroque painters of the 18th century. He worked initially as a court painter of Francis II Rakoczi, the Prince of Hungary and Transylvania and later, across Europe in the German cities of Leipzig, Dresden and Berlin and in France and Warsaw under the patronage of the Polish King).

 Kuruc labanc battle scene by an anonymous painter.
(Kuruc: was a term used to denote the armed anti-Hapsburg forces in Ryal Hungary between 1671 to 1711 (known as the “30-Years War”). The Kuruc Army was mostly made up of serfs, including Protestant peasants, Slavs and the leading nobles were Hungarians. The term “Kuruc” is derived from the Latin term “cruciatus” or “crusader”).

c) Banknotes issued with the Kadar’s Coat of Arms/Badge:

Six denominations were issued under the “Kadar’s Coat of Arms/Badge.

In addition to the four denominations 10, 20, 50 and 100 Forint Banknotes of the immediately preceding issues under the Rakosi Arms, which, again, were issued with the earlier designs, two additional denominations were introduced i.e. 500 and 1000 Forint Banknotes.

The Front of the 500 (five hundred) Forint Banknote depicted Endre Ady, while the Back showed a view of Budapest.

(Endre Ady (22.11.1877-27.01.1919): He was a journalist and poet. His first poems were published in a volume called “Versek” (Poems) in 1899, a second set of poems in 1903. While working for the newspaper “Budapesti Naplo” (Budapest Journal) he published several articles and poems. In 1906, he published a third book of poetry titled “Uj versek” (New Poems) which is a landmark in literature marking the birth of modern Hungarian poetry. His fourth collection “Ver es arany” (Blood and Gold) brought him much success and critical acclaim. In 1908, he joined a periodical the “Nyugat” (The West) which became the most important periodical in Hungarian literature, with Ady becoming its editor, as well as, its symbol. He wrote his last poem “Udvozlet a gyozonek” or “Greetings to the victorious” in 1918). 

The Front of the 1000 (one thousand) Forint Banknote depicted Bela Bartok, while the Back showed Ferenc Medgyessy’s sculpture “Mother with her child.

(Bela Viktor Bartok (25.03.1881- 26.09.1945): He was a Hungarian composer and pianist and regarded as one of Hungary’s most important composers of the 20th century. Through his collection and analytical study of folk music, he was one of the founders of ethnomusicology. He has been honoured through several statues and busts, more specifically, in Brussels, Belgium, near South Kensington Underground Railway station in London, in New York City, in Paris near the Siene, in Ankara State Conservatory in Turkey, in Budapest etc.).

(Ferenc Medgyessy (1881-1958): He was a Hungarian sculptor and physician. After graduating in Medicine, he took active interest in studying Art in Paris and later, Michelangelo and the Etruscan Art Forms/styles in Florence. His style of Art was mostly Folk Realism).

d) Banknotes issued with the “present/latest Coat of Arms”:

Four denominations were issued under the “present Coat of Arms”/Badge. While doing away with/excluding four denominations 10, 20, 50 and 100 Forint Banknotes, Banknotes in the denominations of 100, 500 and 1000 were retained along with the  designs issued under the Kadar’s Coat of Arms, and a  new denomination of 5000 Forint Banknote was added.

The Front of the 5000 (five thousand) Forint Banknote depicts a portrait of Count Istvan Szechenyi by Friedrich von Amerling while the Back shows an image of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences building.

(Count Istvan Szechenyi de Sarvar-Felsovidek (21.09.1790-08.04.1860) : was a Hungarian politician, theorist and writer, and one of the greatest statesmen in Hungarian history. He was a determined reformer, promoted modernisation and development and sought to bridge the gap between the modern world and Hungary. He once donated his entire annual income from his estates amounting to about 60000 florins towards the development of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He organised the “Nemzeti Kaszino” a forum of patriotic Hungarian nobility who contributed towards his modernisation and reformist vision. He had several writings to his credit mostly focussed on his reformist Agenda. Statues to his memory stand in Budapest and Sopron, both unveiled in 1880.

(Friedrich von Amerling (14.04.1803-14.01.1887): He was an Austro-Hungarian portrait painter in the court of Franz Josef between 1835 and 1880 and is rated as one of the most outstanding Austrian portrait painters of the nineteenth century. He was widely travelled and is credited with over 1000 works of art, mostly portraits. A Street in Vienna is called “Amerlingstrasse” in his name. A monument to him stands in the Viennese city park dedicated to him in 1902. In 1948, the Austrian Post Office brought out a special stamp on the Anniversary of the 60th year of his passing away).

The 1998 Series (or the Third/Present series):

Banknotes issued under this Series did away with all the old designs and introduced famous historic personalities on the Front and heritage buildings/ Art/ events related to that historic personality on the Back of the Banknotes. 

The denominations issued under a completely redesigned new Series were 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000 and 20000 Forints. 

The Banknotes all share a common size 154 mm x 70 mm. All the Banknotes are water-marked, contain an embedded vertical security strip and features for the visually challenged/impaired users. 

The 1000 Forint and higher denominations are protected by an interwoven holographic security strip. 

The Banknotes are printed by the Hungarian Banknote Printing Corporation in Budapest on paper manufactured by the Diosgyor Papermill in Miskolc.

The Front of the 200 (two hundred) Forint Banknote bears the portrait of King Charles Robert.  On the top of this Banknote is mentioned “Karoly Robert” (meaning Charles Robert). The denomination is mentioned as “Ketszaz Forint” (or Two Hundred Forint). This Banknote was issued in Budapest in 2007.

The colour of this Banknote is green. This denomination of Banknote was first printed on 01.05.1998 and withdrawn from circulation on 16.11.2009 and replaced by a 200 Forint coin.

(King Charles Robert or “Caroberto” or “Karoly Robert” or Charles I (1288-16.07.1342): He was the first King of Hungary and Croatia from 1308-1342. Charles strengthened his kingdom overcoming a series of internal struggles. He carried out several political and economic reforms. He introduced an “honour system” where powerful barons depended on him for favours. His foreign policy was a result of several dynastic alliances.  He is credited with having introduced new gold coins with a consistently high purity of gold. His most prominent achievement was the mutual Defence Union with Poland and bohemia against the Habsburgs. He is remembered as one of Hungary’s most successful rulers. 

The Back of the 200 Forint Banknote depicts the Castle of Diosgyor. On this face is mentioned “Diosgyori Var” (meaning “Castle of Diosgyor”).

(Castle of Diosgyor: This is a medieval castle in Diosgyor which is now a part of the Northern Hungarian city Miskolc. The castle was first built in the 12th century, was destroyed in a Mongol invasion in 1241-42 and rebuilt by King Bela IV and nicknamed the “new castle”. In 1596, the Ottoman Army captured this castle along with the castle of Eger and was ruled by the Pasha od Eger till 1687 when this part of Hungary was freed from Turkish Rule. The castle was restored through a project which commenced in 1953. The castle now exhibits the history of the castle, a weapons exhibition a monastery, waxworks exhibition etc. for visitors. Nevertheless, modern day buildings have taken over the Castle’s idyllic surroundings.

The Front of the 500 (five hundred) Forint Banknote bears the portrait of Prince Sovereign Ferenc II Rakoczi by Adam Manyoki. The colour of this Banknote is orange & brown. This Banknote was first printed in 1998.

The Back of the 500 Forint Banknote depicts the Castle of Sarospatak.

(Sarosapatak Castle (“Sarospatak” meaning “Muddy Stream or Muddy Brook”): situated in Borsod-Abauj-Zemplen county in Northern Hungary. The area developed into a town in 1201 and the castle was built by Andrew II. Sarospatak Castle had many owners including the Dobo family, before it came into the possession of the Rakoczi family.This town has an important place in Hungarian history, as it is an important trade link to Poland and the Reformation movement began spreading into Hungary from this Area. The first Protestant College, one of the most important colleges of Hungary at that time was founded in Sarospatak in 1531. The residents of Patak – as the town is called – took an active part in the Revolution against Habsburg Rule).

The Front of the 1000 (one thousand) Forint Banknote bears the portrait of King Matthias Corvinus.  On the Banknote is mentioned “Matyas Kiraly (Matthias Corvinus). The denomination is mentioned as “Ezer Forint” (one thousand Forint – somehow Ezer sounds familiar to “Hazar” which is what one thousand in India is also called). This Banknote was issued in 2006.

The colour of this Banknote is blue. This denomination of Banknote was first printed in 1998.

(Matthias Corvinus or “Hunyadi Matyas” or “Matyas Kirali” or Matthias I (23.02.1443-06.04.1490): He was the King of Hungary and Croatia, King of Bohemia and Duke of Austria. Under his patronage, Hungary was the first European Nation to adopt Renaissance from Italy. He established Educational Institutions, patronized Art and Science and introduced a new legal system in the Kingdom of Hungary. During his reign, he endeavoured to follow the model and ideas of the philosopher-king as conceived in Plato’s Republic. His library, the “Bibliotheca Corviniana” was Europe’s greatest collection of secular books, historical chronicles, philosophic and scientific works in the fifteenth century, second only to the Vatican library).

The Back of the 1000 Forint Banknote shows the Hercules Fountain from the Castle of Visegrad. On this face is mentioned “Hercules Kut Visegradi Kiralyi Palota” (Hercules Fountain in the Upper Castle of Visegrad).

(Visigrad Castle (meaning “Upper Castle” or :the Upper settlement/town/fortification”: is a small castle town in Pest County, Hungary (Pest is one of the Regions which form the Capital city of Budapest). Situated North of Budapest on the Banks of the Danube, Visegrad is famous for the remains of the Early Renaissance palace of King Matthias Corvinus and this medieval citadel).

The Front of the 2000 (two thousand) Forint Banknote bears a portrait of Prince Sovereign Gabor Bethlen. On the Banknote is mentioned “Bethlen Gabor”. The denomination is mentioned as “Ketezer Forint” (meaning two thousand Forint). This Banknote was issued in 2004.

The colour of this Banknote is brown. This Banknote was first printed in 1998.

(Prince Sovereign Gabor Bethlen (1580-1629): He was the Leader of the anti-Hapsburg opposition of the Transylvanian nobility and the Prince of Transylvania from 1613 to 1629. Also, he was the King of Hungary from 1620-21.

After participating in the anti-Hapsburg movement which led to the overthrowing of Prince Gabor Bathory, he was elected Prince of Transylvania in October 1613. Thereafter, creating a standing Army, he participated in the Thirty Year’s War on the side of the anti-Austrian coalition and scored several important successes against the Hapsburgs. On 25.08.1620, he was chosen King of Hungary, but was soon dispossessed of it after the coalition was defeated by the Hapsburgs. Nevertheless, through a Treaty, he was given a large portion of Slovakia – the 7 upper Hungarian comitats – as compensation. He met with several successes in battles and repossessed several territories thereafter ad remains a popular figure with the Hungarians).

The Back of the 2000 Forint Banknote depicts Viktor Madarasz’ painting – “Gabor Bethlen among the scientists. On this Face is mentioned “Bethlen Gabor Tudosai Eozott”.

(Viktor Madarasz (14.12.1830-10.01.1917): He was a Hungarian romantic painter. Early on, he served as a soldier and officer in the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 and then lived in exile after studying painting in Vienna and in Paris).

The Front of the 5000 (five thousand) Forint Banknote bears the portrait of Count Istvan Szechenyi by Friedrich Amerling. On this face is mentioned “Grof Szechenyi Istvan”. The denomination of this Banknote is mentioned as “Otezer Forint” (five thousand Forint). This Banknote was printed in 2005.

The colour of this Banknote is violet and green. This denomination of Banknote was first issued in 1999.

The Back of the 5000 Forint Banknote shows the Szechenyi Mansion in Nagycenk. The inscription on this face is “A Nagycenki Szechenyi Kastely.

(Szechenyi Mansion: The Szechenyi mansion or “Szechenyi –Kastely” was built in baroque style by the Szechenyi family through several generations. It now serves as a memorial museum for Istvan Szechenyi).

The Front of the 10000 (ten thousand) Forint Banknote bears the portrait of King Stephen I. The colour of this Banknote is red and blue. This Banknote was first issued in 1997.

(Stephen I or Saint Stephen: He was the last Grand Prince of Hungary (997-1001). Stephen was the first member of his family to become a devout Christian. He established one archbishopric, six bishoprics and three Benedictine monasteries, thus developing the Church of Hungary independent of the archbishops of the Holy Roman Empire. Hungary enjoyed a lasting peace during his reign and became a preferred route for pilgrims travelling between Western Europe and the Holy Land or Constantinople. He was canonized in 1083 by Pope Gregory VII. His major shrine Saint Stephen‘s Basilica in Budapest. He is the Patron Saint of Hungary and patron of Kings, masons, stonecutters, stonemasons and bricklayers).

The Back of the 10000 Forint Banknote depicts a view of Estergom by Hubert Sattler.

(Hubert Sattler (1817-1904): was a famous Austrian-German landscape painter along with his father Johann Michael Sattler).

The Front of the 20000 (twenty thousand) Banknote bears the portrait of Ferenc Deak. The colour of this Banknote is grey and reddish. This Banknote was first issued in 1999.

(Ferenc Deak (17.10.1803-28.01.1876): also known as Ferenc Deak de Kehida was a Hungarian statesman and Minister of Justice, nicknamed “The Wise Man of the Nation”.  In 1842, he was instrumental in liberating the serfs and canvassing for all nobles to pay taxes to the Kingdom of Hungary during the Reformist Era. In 1846, after the end of the Polish Uprising in Galicia, the reformers gained popularity and released the “Ellenzeki nyilatkozat” (Manifesto of the Opposition) under Deak’s name. As a statesman, he headed several delegations to negotiate settlements between politically warring groups, with the Reformist Agenda uppermost in his mind. Upon his passing away in 1876, Parliament paid tribute to his excellent work by passing laws on issues central to his heart and erecting a statue on one of the Central squares of Budapest, now known as the “Dean Ferenc Square”).

The Back of the 20000 Forint Banknote depicts the old House of Representatives in Pest.

Some Commemorative issues:

Commemorative Banknotes in the denominations of 1000 and 2000 Forint (to commemorate the new millenium were issued in 2000) and  500 Forint (to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1956 Revolution was issued in 2006).

Hungarian National Bank (Magyar Nemziti Bank):

The Hungarian National Bank or “Magyar Nemzeti Bank” is the Central Bank of Hungary having supervisory control over Currency issue and circulation among other functions including monetary policy. The Headquarters of the Hungarian National Bank is situated in Budapest.

Hungary was scheduled to join the Euro Union in 2010, but due to the fiscal austerity requirements which are required to go with the introduction of the Euro and which would have hampered Hungary’s economic growth, this plan was put on hold. As a member of the European Union, the long term aim of Hungary is to replace the Forint with the Euro.

The Present Coat of Arms of Hungary (or “Magyarorszag cimere”):

The elements of the Hungarian Coat of Arms dates back to the Middle Ages and used both with or without the Holy Crown of Hungary, sometimes as part of a larger, more complex Coat of Arms.

From 1990, the historical crowned small Coat of Arms is the official symbol/emblem of Hungary.

Crest: displays the Holy Crown of Hungary.

Escutcheon: Per Pale, the first barry of eight Gules and Argent, the second Gules, on a mount Vert (green) a crown Or (golden), issuant therefrom a double cross Argent.

Shield: split into two parts:

The Dexter (left side from the viewer’s point) features the “Arpad stripes” (four argent (silver) and four Gules (red) stripes. The silver stripes represent the four rivers: “Duna” (Danube), “Tisza”, “Drava” and “Szava”.

The Sinister (right side from the viewer’s point) consists of an Argent (silver) double cross on Gules (red) base, situated inside a small Or (golden) Crown, the crown placed on the middle heap of three Vert (green) hills, representing the mountain ranges “Tatra”. “Matra” and “Fatra”.

The Elements:

The Double Cross: This is an ancient element said to have been give to Saint Stephen by the Pope as the symbol of the apostolic Kingdom of Hungary. Another school of thought believes that it has its origins in the Byzantine court when King Bela III used it in the Byzantine Court. Another theory places the double cross as having been derived from the Saints Cyril and Methodius). The double Cross first appeared on an earlier Coat of Arms during the reign of Louis I of Hungary (1342-1382).

The 8 Stripes (four red and four silver – alternating): also appeared for the first time during the reign of Louis I of Hungary (1342–1382) as his Coat of Arms.

The Crown (above the Coat of Arms): appeared first during the reign of Vladislaus I of Hungary (1440-1444). At first it was only a non-specific diadem but on the 1464 seal of Matthias Corvinus it resembled the Holy Crown of Hungary and has been taken on the present Coat of Arms.

A version of the Coat of Arms, (with several features almost similar to the one adopted in 1990) was set during the reign of King Matthias II of Hungary in early 17th century and was in regular usage during the reign of Queen Maria Theresa of Hungary. 

Past Emblems/Coat of arms used in Hungarian Banknotes:

                           Kossuth Coat of Arms
The Kossuth Coat of Arms had its origins in the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 following the dethroning of the Habsburg dynasty. The Holy Crown was removed from the Coat of Arms and the remaining coat of Armswas referred to as the “Kossuth-cimer”, in Hungarian, named after Lajos Kossuth, Regent-President of Hungary. Nevertheless, it was not the coat of arms of the Kossuth family. Between 1946-1949, the Kossuth style Coat of Arms was used but with the variation given below:
                      The Rakosi Coat of Arms/Badge

The Rakosi Coat of Arms/Badge: was introduced in 1949 bythe then Stalinist Regime of the People’s Republic of Hungary which had a socialist heraldry in the form of a hammer and an ear of corn closely resembling the Coat of Arms of the Soviet Union. This Coat of Arms was only a badge in a strict sense as it did not have a shield.
                       Kadar Coat of Arms/Badge

The Kadar Coat of Arms/Badge: Also called a Badge (as it had a shield within it and not had a shield bearing the Heraldic colours). It was introduced in 1957, and was formed by combining the general shape of the Rakosi Badge with a small shield in the middle with its entire surface covered by the Hungarian National tricolour. This Badge did away with any religious insignias by not including the cross. This Badge was superseded by the present Arms in 1990 when Hungary witnessed a regime change.

( The Banknotes and coins represented above are from the collection of Ajit George. Article researched and written by Rajeev Prasad)

Links to posts on Hungarian coins & currency this Blog:

 Links to other posts on Hungary on this blog:

2) Janos Arany:Commemorating the Bicentenary of his birth with a set of 3 coins: 5000 Forint, 10000 Forint Silver coin and 2000 Forint Base Metal Coin by Magyar Nemzeti Bank on 03.03.2017

3) Bukk National Park, Hungary" Fourth in the Hungarian National Park Series launched in 2010: Two coins Silver HUF 10000 (Forints) and Base Metal HUF 2000 (Forints) issued on 21.04.2017