Loss from introduction of the euro

Updated: Jan 15 2002, 05:30am hrs
So Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain have switched to the euro. One doubts that Britain, Sweden or Denmark will follow in a hurry. There are seven euro banknotes, from euro 5 to euro 500. And there are eight euro coins 1 and 2 euros, and from 1 to 50 cents.

Profound articles have been written about the significance of the switch to the euro. I am concerned about more mundane matters. With present keyboards, it was bad enough having to type a pound sign, when one needed to. One will presumably have to type the euro sign more often. How is that to be done

I havent seen the Euro note or coin yet. But from the publicity blitz, I know that euro notes are standardised. The notes are uniform throughout the 12 countries. On the front, you have windows and gates. And at the back, you have a bridge from a particular age. What intrigues me more are the coins. These have a common European side and a variable national side. I thought I would search the Net to find out what the national sides of the coins looked like. The attempt wasnt very successful. There was a site that promised me the backside of the coins. (I used to think the use of the word backside to contexts other than the human behind was typically Indian. Evidently not.) But when I tried to download the backsides, I got nowhere.

Coins and notes also reflect the history of a country, its culture and what it considers important. When you replace these, you also lose a little bit of history. As I said, I havent been able to figure out what has happened to the coins. But consider what we will miss for the notes. I will give you examples from 10 countries, since I have not had that much luck with Austria and Italy.

Lets take France first. On the 500-franc note, we will lose Pierre and Marie Curie. On the 200-franc note, we will lose Gustave Eiffel. On the 100-franc note, we will lose Paul Cezanne. On the 50-franc note, we will lose Antoine de Saint-Exupery of The Little Prince.

In Germany, in 10-DM notes, we will lose Carl Friedrich Gauss, the mathematician. In 20-DM notes, we will lose the poetess Annette von Droste-H|lshoff. In 50-DM notes, we will lose the architect Balthasar Neumann. In 100-DM notes, we will lose Clara Schumann, the composer. In 200-DM notes, we will lose Paul Ehrlich, the doctor. In 500-DM notes, we will lose Maria Sibylla Merian, the painter and natural scientist. And in 1000-DM notes, we will lose Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm, the Grimm brothers.

In Belgium, on the 100-F note, we will lose the painter, James Ensor. On the 200-F note, we will lose the musician Adolphe Sax, the inventor of the saxophone. On the 500-F note, we will lose the surreal painter, Rene Magritte. On the 1000-F note, we will lose the expressionist painter, Constant Permeke. On the 2000-F note, we will no longer have Victor Horta, the architect. And on the 10,000-F note, we will lose King Albert II et Paola.

In Greece, on the 100-drachma note, we lose Athenas head and Adamantios Korais, the father of modern Greek literature. On the 200-drachma note, we lose Rigas Velestinlis, the revolutionary, and a painting by Nikolaos Gyzis. On the 500-drachma note, we lose Ioannis Capodistrias, the first Governor of Independent Greece and the citadel of Corfu. On the 1000-drachma note, we will miss the head of Apollo and the temple of Hera. On the 5000-drachma note, General Theodorus Kolokotronis (from the War of Independence in 1821) and the town on Karytena will disappear.

And on the 10,000-drachma note, we will no longer have the doctor George Papanicolaou or Asclepius, the god of medicine. In Ireland, on the 5-pound note, we wont have Catherine McAuley, fonder of the Sisters of Mercy and a classroom with three children. The classroom was particularly interesting. It not only had a poem from Songs Ascribed to Raftery (by Douglas Hyde) written on the blackboard, the wall of the classroom also had a map of Europe without any national boundaries.

The 10-pound note will lose a portrait of James Joyce and a head sculpted by Edward Smyth. The 20-pound note will lose a portrait of the nationalist leader Daniel OConnell and a pledge signed in 1845 by Daniel OConnell and others. The 50-pound note will lose the first President, Douglas Hyde. The 100-pound note will lose the nationalist leader Charles Stewart Parnell and the Parnell monument.

In the Netherlands, the bank-notes were based on birds and these will disappear. This includes the 5-guilder oriole, the 10-guilder humming bird, the 25-guilder flamingo, the 50-guilder refous-collared sparrow and the 250-guilder Caribbean mocking bird. The loss in Luxembourg is not that significant. On the 100, 1000 and 5000 franc notes, we lose Grand-Duc Jean, various chateaus and various buildings. I havent been able to figure out the details for Portugal. But all the notes, from 500 to 10,000 Escudos, seem to commemorate Portuguese maritime discoveries.

In Spain, on the 1000-peseta note, we will lose the novelist Benito Perez Galdos. On the 2000-peseta note, we will lose the poet Juan Ramon Jimenez. On the 5000-peseta and 10,000-peseta notes, we will lose King Juan Carlos. In Finland, on the 10-markka note, we will lose Paavo Nurmi. On the 20-markka note, we will lose the author Vaino Linna. On the 50-markka note, we will lose the architect Alvar Aalto. On the 100-markka note, we will lose the composer Jean Sibelius. On the 500-markka note, we will lose Elias Lonnrot, collector of folk poetry, linguist and doctor. And on the 1000-markka note, we will lose Anders Chydenius, economist, clergyman and statesman.

Contrary to what you might have thought, notes dont feature politicians, kings and queens alone. There is quite a bit of art, science, painting, sculpture, music and literature. Even sports. Quite a bit to be missed.