Von Ghega, The Engineer Nobleman: 20 Schilling (Austria, 1967)-Article

Updated: Mar 12

This Cold War-era Austrian banknote represents the 1st denomination of the Second Schilling (Series 1966). The Second Schilling was the post-WWII (1939-1945) currency of Austria, replacing the German Reichsmark. Which was imposed by Germany after the annexation of Austria, in 1938. Ending the circulation of the previous First Schilling, introduced in 1925.

Despite Austria's acceptance of the Euro on 1 January 1999. Due to delays in the introduction of Euro coins and banknotes, did not end circulation until 28 February 2002. The Second Schilling was replaced by the Euro, until 1 March 2002. Currently (2021) as per European Union agreement, Second Schilling banknotes remained indefinitely exchangeable for Euros.


The observe features a portrait of nobleman Karl Ritter von Ghega (1802-1860), designer of the Semmering railway. Both the note's observe and reverse were designed by artist Roman Hellmann (1921-2012). Who designed all banknotes of the Second Schilling from 1956-1970. This included the Series 1966 and the previous Series 1956.

A large portion of the observe features overlapping guilloche, both as a decorative and anti-counterfeit measure. The note's twenty schilling value is is expressed by number "20"s. Located at the upper right, lower right, upper left and middle left. The underprint is made of interlacing micropatterns, forming lines of oval patters. A security tread can be faintly made out, aligned with the "I" in "OESTERREISCHE" (Austrian).

The note's header translates to "Twenty Schillings Austrian National Bank". Below is the signatures of the bank's "General Council", "President", and "General Director. At the footer is the Coat of Arms of Austria, to it's left is the note's issue date (Vienna 2 July 1967). Below von Ghega's portrait is a title "Carl Ritter v Ghega". Notably spelled as "Carl", rather than the Germanic "Karl". As Von Ghea's original name was "Carlo", due to his birth in Venice. To right of the portrait, a portion of the Semmering Railway bridge can be seen.


The reverse features a detailed illustration of the Semmering Railway bridge. This illustration takes up the majority of the reverse, with exception of underprint and multiple guilloche patterns. Text is relatively sparse, with the header simply translating to "Twenty Schillings". A simple title below the illustration reads only "Semmering".

To the right of "Semmering" is one of two serial numbers (H 485123 B), the second is located to the upper left (below "ZWANZIG"). Unlike the observe a number "20" is located at each corner. The upper 20s are solid brown, while lower are white in color. The outlying frame features multiple shades, with an micropatterned underprint. This micropattern can be described as being "chainmail in design.

The Semmeringbahn

Constructed between 1848 and 1854, under the design and direction of Karl Ritter von Ghega (1802-1860). The Semmeringbahn or Semmering railway was Europe's first standard gauge mountain railway. The project employed roughly 20,000 workers and spans a length of 41 km (25.5 mi). The journey begins in the mountain town of Gloggnitz and ends in Mürzzuschlag. While now a popular ski resort, was within the industrial heart, of the soon to be Austria-Hungarian Empire (1867–1918).

The construction was a monumental feat, even by modern standards. The route features 14 tunnels, 16 viaducts, 100 stone arc bridges, and 11 small iron bridges. Stations and supervisor offices were built directly from waste rock, left over from tunnel construction. To meet demands of the project new surveying methods and the distinct Engerth articulated locomotive.

As the steep gradients and curves required a locomotive, beyond the limits of conventional design. As such the the railway features graceful curves. Which seamlessly blend into the natural environment, fitting von Ghega's original vison. As being a harmonious combination of technology and nature. Aiding greatly to the railway's renown for becoming a scenic tourist attraction in itself.

The land neighboring the railways route was quickly lined with mansion and hotels. As the Semmering became associated with winter sports and luxurious resorts. Even after the lulls and pauses cause by the First (1914-1918) and Second World War (1939-1945). This reputation has lived on, even 160+ years after the railway's founding.

Ultraviolet Gallery

Size Comparison

An Austrian 20 Schilling with US Dollar for scale.
An Austrian 20 Schilling with US Dollar for scale.

Additional Notes

  • This note dimensions are 132 x 62 mm or 5.20 x 2.44 in, smaller than a standard US Dollar.

  • The preferable method to preserve this note, is a side opening protective sleeve cut to size.

  • The fixed exchange rate for Second Schillings to Euros is 13.76 Schillings=1 Euro.

  • Karl von Ghega originally served as a hydraulic engineer, in his birthplace of Venice.

  • In 1998, the Semmeringbahn was declared a UNESCO world heritage site.

  • On 25 April 2012, ground was broken for the Semmering Base Tunnel project.

  • The Semmering Base Tunnel will bypass the original Semmering Railway.

  • The Semmering Base Tunnel is expected to open in 2024, at a cost of €3.1 B.

Photo Credits

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