Legendary Saint Bernard rescue dog Barry is celebrated on the Swiss Mints latest gold coin issue

The Swiss Mint release a solitary gold coin every year and 2017 sees an issue celebrating one of the most famous breeds of dog in the world – the Saint Bernard. These big and beautiful animals have entered popular culture for their bravery in the Swiss Alps and elsewhere as rescue dogs. The popular image of a Saint Bernard with a small barrel of brandy around its neck is known worldwide and one of the best loved of these dogs resided in Switzerland over 200 years ago.

Barry is thought to have saved the lives of at least forty people over a career lasting in excess of a decade. We’d say that makes him a fitting recipient of remembrance and the Swiss Mints new gold coin features a big and bold depiction of Barry on its reverse face. The classic barrel hangs around his neck and there’s a view of the mountains in the background. His name is inscribed on the bottom and there’s a small inscription of the artists name to the right of the coin.

The obverse is the same one that the Swiss Mint puts on virtually all of its precious metal commemorative issues. A simple set of concentric inscriptions present all the coin issue details with just a small Swiss cross in attendance. Struck in a little over eleven grams of 0.900 fineness gold, a maximum of 4,500 of these will be struck. They come in a box with a certificate of authenticity and will sell for 580.00 CHF. Available now.



In the 11th century, Canons Regular of Saint Augustine founded a hospice as a refuge for travellers and pilgrims on the 2,469 metre-high Great Saint Bernard Pass. Large mountain dogs have been kept at the hospice since the mid-17th century to guard and protect those staying there. The first visual evidence of the presence of mountain dogs dates back to 1695, and the first written document is a hospice memo from the year 1707. The dogs were rapidly adopted as companion dogs and above all as rescue dogs for travellers who lost their way in the snow and mist. The dogs from the Great Saint Bernard Pass saved the lives of a great number of people. The reputation of the Saint Bernards grew throughout Europe in the 19th century thanks to chronicles published in many languages and to reports passed on by word of mouth by the soldiers who had crossed the pass with Napoleon Bonaparte in 1800.

The legendary Saint Bernard dog Barry lived at the hospice from 1800 to 1812. The famous dog apparently saved the lives of more than 40 people. Numerous legends linked to his story have contributed greatly to the good reputation of the Saint Bernard dogs. The Natural History Museum in Bern is devoting a special exhibition to the stuffed, original Barry and his story: www.barry.museum. The Barry Foundation in Martigny (www.fondation-barry.ch) attends to the continued existence of the original Saint Bernard dogs.

In memory of this brave dog, Swissmint issues a 50-franc gold coin designed by the graphic artist and illustrator Maya Delaquis from Gwatt.


COMPOSITION 0.900 gold
WEIGHT 11.29 grams
DIAMETER 25.00 mm
BOX / COA Yes / Yes