BANKNOTES OF HUNGARY
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|2005||NEW||1000 Forint||Issued on 10 April 2006|
|2006||NEW||500 Forint||Commemorative Banknote: 50th anniversary of the Hungarian revolution and the war of independence 1956-2006. A limited edition, only 15 million printed. The face of the note is identical to the 500 forint banknote of the 2001 series. The back of the note is different.|
The Hungarian Forint
The forint is the official currency of Hungary. It is divided into 100 fillér, although fillér coins have not been in circulation since 1999. The Hungarian forint's ISO 4217 code is HUF and the Hungarian abbreviation for forint is Ft, which is written after the number.
The forint's name comes from the city of Florence, where golden money was minted from 1252 under the name fiorino d'oro. In Hungary, florentinus (later forint), also a gold-based currency, was used from 1325 under Charles Robert and several other countries followed its example.
Between 1857 and 1892, the forint was the name used in Hungarian for the currency of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, known in German as the Austro-Hungarian gulden or Austrian florin. It was subdivided into 100 krajczár (krajcár in modern Hungarian).
The forint was reintroduced on 1 August 1946, after the 1945-1946 hyperinflation of the pengő. The process was managed by the Hungarian communist party, which held the relevant ministry seats and the forint's success was exploited for political gains, contributing to the 1948-49 communist take-over of state powers, thanks to organized en masse' election fraud called 'blue slip elections' after the ballot's color. The forint replaced the pengő at the rate of 1 forint = 4×1029 pengő. In fact, this was an imaginary exchange rate, since the whole amount of pengő in circulation had a value of less than one forint at this rate.
Historically the forint was made up of 100 fillér, but fillér have been rendered useless by inflation and have not been in circulation since 1999. The name fillér, the subdivision of almost all Hungarian currencies, comes from the German word Heller. The abbreviation for the fillér is f, written also after the number with a space in between. However, since the demise of the fillér, this abbreviation is now seldom used.
After its 1946 introduction, the forint remained stable for several years, but started to lose its purchasing power as the state-socialist economic system lost its competitiveness during the 1970s and 1980s. After the democratic change of 1989-90, the forint saw yearly inflation figures of app. 35% for three years, but significant market economy reforms helped stabilize it. Since year 2000 the relatively high value of forint (especially compared to the falling US dollar and to some extent to the euro) handicaps the strongly export-oriented Hungarian industry against foreign competitors with lower valued currencies.
As part of Hungary's integration into the European Union, the forint is slated to disappear circa 2010-2012 and be replaced by the euro, depending on the economic situation. As of autumn 2005, there is a strong disagreement between the Hungarian National Bank and the government whether EU-mandated low inflation figures and reduced foreign debt aims can be fulfilled by 2010. The situation threatens to make Hungary the last one among the ten new European Union members to adopt the euro currency.
In 1992, a new series of forint coins was introduced with denominations ranging from 1 forint to 200 forint. From 1996, a bimetallic 100 forint coin was introduced to replace the 1992 version. The first version of the 100 forint coin was considered to be too big, too ugly, and also could be easily mistaken with the 20 forint coin. The 200 forint coin is made of 50% fine silver, but from 1994, mass minting of the 200 forint coin was stopped, since the price of silver was getting higher than the face value of the coin. However, small issues for collector purposes were minted until 1998, when both the 1992 type 100 forint and the 200 forint coins were withdrawn from circulation.
The 1 forint denomination was illegally exported to Canada in significant amounts, as the tiny coin could be used in place of genuine tokens for entry at the underground railway's automatic gates. Considering the minimal value of 1 forint coins, this was a highly profitable venture that lasted until the token machines were re-programmed. The 50 forint coin is confused with the British 50 pence coin by some vending machines in the United Kingdom.
The recent series of forint banknotes with improved security features was introduced in 1997. Each banknote depicts a famous Hungarian leader or politician on the obverse and a place related to him on the reverse. All of the banknotes are watermarked, contain an embedded vertical security strip of thin metal and suitable for the visually impaired people. As of April 2006 the 1000 forint note has added a copper holographic security strip. The 2000 forint and higher denominations are also protected by an interwoven silver-colored holographic security strip, whilst the updated 1000 forint note contains a red copper colored holographic strip. The notes share the common size of 154 mm × 70 mm. The banknotes are printed by the Hungarian Banknote Printing Corp. in Budapest on paper manufactured by the Diósgyőr Papermill in Miskolc, Hungary.
In 2006 a special-issue 500-forint bill was issued to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1956 revolution. The picture on the front of the bill is the same as the normal 500-forint bill, but with the date October 23, 1956 added, whereas the back has a picture of the Parliament building as well as the revolutionary flag.
History of Hungarian Coins and Banknotes
In 1946, the new forint series was introduced, these banknotes remained in circulation until 1999. The denominations of the old coins were 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 fillér, and 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 forint. These coins were larger than the current ones of the same denomination. The existing notes were 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000, and 5000 forint, although 10 and 20 forint notes became rare in the later years. The 1000 forint banknote was introduced in 1983, and the 5000 forint note in 1991. All of the old series notes have been demonetized, and as of December 2006 only denominations higher than 500 forint can be exchanged at the offices of the Hungarian National Bank.
The current generation of coins and notes were introduced between 1997 and 2001. The first note of this series was the 10.000 forint note, released on July 1, 1997 These include the new coat of arms with the crown. The smallest denomination of the new series was the 1 forint coin, which at the time of introduction was actually worth something, the old 50 fillér coins were not demonetized until 1998, and although they had no legal tender status, they were used right up until 2000. The banknotes are all the same size, and have modern security features unlike the old ones. All current notes were designed by Károly Vagyóczky, a well-known banknote designer of the Hungarian National Bank. Since their issue, some of the notes have been slightly modified for greater security, the 500, 1000 forint banknotes are the most prominent examples, the 1000 forint note having been updated twice already. In 2001 the last note of the new series, the 20,000 forint note was introduced. The Hungarian National Bank has declared that it is not planning to introduce any further notes, due to the planned introduction of the euro. Some coins have been replaced, such as the 100 forint coin, which is now a bimetallic coin, whilst others have been removed from circulation, such as the silver-alloy 200 forint coin.
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Page created: 21 March 2007
Last Update: 21 March 2007
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