Swiss Mint debuts new series showcasing the great Alpine passes with motor racing legend, the Klausen Pass

Not the most prolific of mints, the Swiss Mint does still retain the knack of releasing some fine coins (and yodelling coins…). Their latest is a beautiful 20g silver coin depicting the Klausen Pass. The first in a new series called Swiss Alpine Passes, if the rest of the coins are up to this standard we’re in for a treat. As usual for the Swiss Mint, these silver coins are struck in a fineness not used by most others, namely 0.835 silver, but in other respects are cleanly struck and unembelished – a nice change these days.

Those of you who love motor racing will really like this one. Depicting a classic French 1927 Amilcar, the coin celebrates the venue of the famed Klausenrace, a tough mountain automobile race that took place between 1922 and 1934. A gorgeous car (we note one sold at auction a few years ago for £50k), it was typical of the vehicles that sprinted around the tortuous 21.5km gravel road with its 136 corners and 1.2km climb. In the background is a contour map of the pass with the route of the race marked out on it. You might have guessed by now – I love this coin. I wish the central art covered a little more of the coin, but that’s a nitpick.

The obverse is a standard Swiss one with just a small cross and inscriptions present. The coin is struck in two finishes. The proof coin sell for 60CHF and has a 5,000 mintage . A small number of these (200) were signed by the designer but sold out immediately. They were an extra 10CHF. The uncirculated coin isn’t boxed, but as it sells for just 30CHF yet has the same specification apart from the finish, it’s easy to overlook. The coin in a small folder, our choice for value, will sell for 40CHF, but only 1,000 of the 30,000 coin mintage will be available in this presentation. Available to order now. Great coin.

MINTS DESCRIPTION

The 1,948 metre-high Klausen pass is 46km long and links the valley of Schächental in the canton of Uri with the rear of Linthal in the canton of Glarus. As a non-transalpine route, the Klausen pass was of no significance during either Roman times or the Middle Ages. However, no later than the High Middle Ages, a simple cattle track existed which was mostly used for moving cattle to the Alpine pastures on the Urnerboden. A customs post in Bürglen monitored the insignificant local trade. Following Alpine disputes concerning the border between Uri and Glarus on the Urnerboden (it runs through the side of the mountain pass away from Uri), an agreement was reached in the 12th century.

Commercial interest in a road over the Klausen pass grew with the opening of the Gotthard railway line in 1882 because the new north-south route was reliant on link-roads. After the project received the armyʹs support, it was quickly built between 1893 and 1899. Even massive cost overruns were backed by the Confederation and the cantons. The big day came on 15 June 1900: the first stagecoach drove over the mountain pass and opened up the magnificent landscape between Linthal and Altdorf to tourism. The Klausen pass gained fame from the legendary Klausenrace, a historic mountain race for cars and motorcycles.

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SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION 20 FRANCS CHF
COMPOSITION 0.835 silver
WEIGHT 20.0 grams
DIAMETER 33.00 mm
FINISH Proof or Uncirculated
MODIFICATIONS None
MINTAGE 35,000 (5,000 proof)
BOX / COA Yes / Yes (proof only for box)