Swiss Mint puts the Alpine countries renowned Crocodile locomotive on its annual gold coin

The Swiss Mint isn’t a hugely prolific one, but they do bring a certain quirky charm with their style and choice of subject. They generally only issue a single gold coin every year, and the last three years has seen a railway tunnel, a mountain rescue dog, and William Tell doing the honours. Like we said, quirky. This year the chosen subject is a recurring one on Swiss coins, transport. The subject has already appeared on various silver issues over the last few years, such as the Steamboat series, and the Klausen Pass motor racing route.

For 2019, the mint has chosen the unusual freight train, the ‘Crocodile’, that has been plying its trade along the Swiss Gotthard and Mittelland rail routes for a century. To be strictly factual, the trains were retired from active service in the 1980’s, but some have been preserved as historical items and you can book a trip on one. If you’re going to do a rail journey, we’d imagine a country as stunning as Switzerland would be the place to make the most of it.

The design is a straightforward one. Just an angled view of the train, along with the inscribed dates of the centenary, and the technical name of the Crocodile. The depiction of the train is nicely detailed and shows a great mastery of perspective. So often these things can look a little odd, but here, artist Raphael Schenker, has kept things looking real. The obverse is the standard Swiss one. This isn’t a mint known for exuberance on this face, sadly.

Available with a proof finish, boxed with a certificate of authenticity, the mintage is capped at 5,000 pieces (250 of which were signed by the artist) and carries a price of 580 CHF. Coins are obviously pretty popular in this country, as the coin is listed as sold out at the mint. You should be able to pick one up on the aftermarket, however.


The gold coin issued by Swissmint on 9 May 2019 was dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Crocodile locomotive.

The famous Ce 6/8 II electric locomotive, also affectionately known as the “Crocodile”, celebrates its 100th birthday in 2019. The “Crocodiles” are more than just “old locomo­tives” for many people, and not just for Swiss railway enthusiasts. They combine Swiss cultural heritage with lively enthusiasm for a technical masterpiece created 100 years ago.

The powerful “Crocodiles” are among the SBB’s most durable locomotives. In the spring of 1918, the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) ordered ten “heavy mountain freight locomotives” from the Swiss Locomotive and Machine Factory (SLM) for use at the Gotthard. The specifications for these electric locomotives stipulated that they could cover the Goldau-Chiasso route twice within 28 hours with a train of 860t trailer weight. The special thing about the construction of the “Crocodiles” was the movable bearing between the drive frames and the locomotive box. Between 1919 and 1921, the series was increased to 33 units. The demands on the electric freight locomotives for the mountain route were enormous.

After the “Crocodiles” at the Gotthard were replaced by more powerful locomotives in the mid-1950s, they took over the transport of gravel trains weighing up to 1,200 tonnes in the Mittelland region. Some specimens have been preserved in working order to this day SBB Historic offers special trips with the “Crocodile”, and the electric old timer can also be admired in the Swiss Museum of Transport.

Swissmint was honouring the 100th anniversary of the Crocodile locomotive by issuing a 50-franc gold commemorative coin designed by Raphael Schenker

DENOMINATION 50 CHF (Switzerland)
COMPOSITION 0.900 gold
WEIGHT 11.29 grams
BOX / COA Yes / Yes