At designe danskhed: Forestillinger om nationen på danske pengesedler


  • Anders Ravn Sørensen



To design Danishness: performances of the nation on Danish banknotes


In this article, I analyse four different banknote-design competitions that were hosted by Denmark’s National Bank (Nationalbanken) between 1908 and 2007. The proposals for new banknotes have evoked different narratives about the national community, and I describe how these proposals were characterised by two opposing trends: one style alluded to a romantic national narrative by using ancient relics, barrows and classical landscapes to highlight a common history of origin; the other included more popular and commonplace motifs, such as foodstuff, industry and leisure activities. Historically, Nationalbanken has struggled to balance these different trends while preserving the notes’ legitimacy, and it has endeavoured to make the notes reflect contemporary Danish values. However, as the design processes unfolded over 100 years, the bank’s governors seemed to reconsider such ideas and, despite being given different suggestions, they have always chosen the most conservative iconography. I suggest that decision-makers within the bank have been reluctant to innovate banknote designs and make the notes reflect contemporary values, out of fear that such motives might jeopardise the trustworthiness of Danish paper currency. In maintaining this attitude, Nationalbanken has ultimately reinforced a romanticist narrative about the Danish nation.





Sørensen, A. R. (2013). At designe danskhed: Forestillinger om nationen på danske pengesedler. Kulturstudier, 4(1), 118–142.