The 20 franc coin
Different gold coins are offered on the market and many investors buy not only the classic, world-renowned bullion coins, but also small coins at an attractive price. One such coin is the Swiss Vreneli gold coin.
First issued in 1883, the 20 franc coin is part of a long tradition of Swiss gold coins. Made of a 21.6-karat gold alloy, the 20-franc Helvetia coins feature the famous Swiss coat of arms with an oak branch symbolizing the country’s permanence on the obverse, and a delicate female personification of Switzerland itself on the reverse.
These francs are the best known historical gold coins from the flourishing Alpine country, but are not as well known internationally as the golden“Krugerrand” from South Africa or the “Maple Leaf” from Canada, but are still sought after by professional investors who are well versed in the gold investment market. The main advantage of the Vreneli gold coin is that it is no longer minted and therefore already has the status of a collector coin. At the same time, its value is close to the price of gold. Beginners can use it to gradually build up their own gold reserve. Many consider it a safety feature in the event of a global financial crisis.
The nominal value and alloy
The Vreneli gold coin has a face value of 20 Swiss francs and weighs 5.81 grams. From 1897 to 1949, 58 million of these Vreneli were produced. Other coins with different denominations were also minted, namely 10 franc coins from 1911 to 1922 with a total mintage of 2.65 million pieces, and 100 franc coins were minted in 1925 with a mintage of 5,000 pieces, of which only 3,800 remain, as some were melted down for some reason.
The 10-, 20- and 100-franc Vreneli coins are made of 90% pure gold and 10% copper added for strength. This gold coin is considered a collector’s item, as its production has ceased. The incomparable uniformity and quality of Swiss production make this coin a hallmark of one of the most prosperous countries on earth. Combined with financial stability and security, the Swiss 20 franc is a preferred historical gold coin for the vast majority of investors and collectors worldwide. The Swiss Vreneli is therefore a good way to diversify your portfolio.
One coin, many names
The design was made by Fritz Ulysses Landry in 1895, and it is believed that Françoise Anglie served as the model for the front. The coin is known as Helvetia because of the individual inscription on the obverse. Helvetia is the national female personification of Switzerland, officially the Confederation of Helvetica, the Swiss Confederation. Helvetia is also a variant of the official Latin name of Switzerland.
The name Vreneli is said to come from Verena, another personification of the Swiss Confederation in a female portrait (similar to the American “Lady Liberty”). For this reason, the coins are colloquially known as “Swiss Miss”.
The coins were struck at the Swiss mint in Bern (although the die was engraved at the Paris mint). The Vreneli coins bear the mint mark “B” (without a dot) for Bern. As a special feature, the Vreneli mintages of the years 1945-1947 bear, in addition to the year of issue 1935 and the “B”, the mark “L”, which stands for Lingot = ingot.
Centenary of the last minting of the 10 franc Vreneli gold coin
In 2022, Switzerland has decided to commemorate the centenary of the last minting of 10-franc coins with a new gold coin worth 50 francs. The 10-franc coin was minted from 1911 to 1922 at the Federal Mint (now the Swiss Mint) in Bern. The total circulation for 11 years was 2.65 million copies. One side of the coin featured the profile of a woman against a background of mountain peaks, the other side featured a Swiss cross, the denomination, the year, and sprigs of thorns and gentians.
On the front, designer Remo Mascherini placed the left-facing profile of the woman within a stylized number “100”. The country of issue of the coin is indicated next to the portrait. The name of the artist is indicated on the right side of the front.
Technical specifications of the 50 Swiss francs to the 100th anniversary. Anniversary of the minting of the gold 10 franc Vreneli
Composition – Au 900;
Weight – 11,29 gr;
Size – 25 mm;
maximum possible circulation – 5 000 copies.
In 1883, the 20-franc gold coin was introduced in the same design as the 5-franc coin of the time (with the head of liberty designed by Walch facing left on the oboe and the coat of arms designed by Walch on the bar). The “head of freedom” is often called “Helvetia”.
The designation/specification remained in use until World War I under the so-called Latin Currency League. Switzerland adhered to the confession in 1848. It introduced the Swiss franc and surrendered its currency to the French franc in 1850. In December 1865, it joined the Latin Union. Switzerland had 20 franc coins, Spain had 20 peseta coins, Italy had 20 lira coins, Belgium had 20 Belgian franc coins, Romania had 20 leu coins, and Greece had 20 drachma coins, all of which circulated and were accepted throughout Europe. For political reasons, the British and German empires decided against following this path.
In 1895, the Federal Council decided that the coin should have a Romanesque motif. It shows a female head with curls in profile, with a garland of gems and ama. Landry mentions in a letter from 1895 that he based the design on “a very pure type of Hasley woman” (Bern’s Hasley district).
A test run of only 12 pieces shows a head with an additional fork removed as “too light”. The final design was still considered too light for national representation, but at the same time enjoyed great popularity and was nicknamed Vreneli. The new series was approved by law on January 6, 1896.
The Swissmint (until 1998: Federal Mint)
The Swiss Mint was founded in Bern in 1853. At that time, the various local authorities (municipalities, monasteries, cantons) simultaneously minted coins with different denominations, values and currencies. Foreign money (80 percent of the Swiss money supply) brought in by mercenaries and money from private banks also circulated in the country. The currency collapse was overcome by the monopolization of minting rights by the federal government. A single legal currency, the Swiss franc, was introduced. From 1853, the former Bern mint was used on an experimental basis as a federal mint for the minting of francs and change coins (centimes). Until 1859, the Rappen was minted with billon balls, from 1859 to 1938 it was nickel-plated, while today the Rappen are made of nickel alloys. Franks were first minted in gold, then in silver, and today nickel alloys are used. The Franks were officially recognized as a state institution in 1890. In 1906, the new Swiss Mint building on the Kirchenfeld was inaugurated. It was extensively renovated in the 1990s. In 1998, it became an independent department of the Federal Department of Finance and was renamed “Swissmint”. Today, Swissmint mints many different things. These include circulating coins, commemorative coins, collector coins, bullion coins, gift sets, annual coin sets and medals. The symbol of the Swiss Mint is the letter “B” (Bern). Often the logo of the mint is also embossed on the coins.