The Swiss Mint has launched two new coins, one in gold and one in silver, and as this isn’t a hugely prolific mint, it seems an opportune time to catch up with their ouput from the first half of this year. The coins all follow a single format for silver and a single format for gold, so it all comes down to the coin subject and artwork.
Gold coins come but once a year. 2014 saw a release commemorating a century of Swiss National Parks, while 2015 featured an altogether more impressive landmark, celebrating a huge 2,000 years since the forming of Aventicum, the capital of the Helvetii tribe that helped give the Swiss their national identity. This year the subject matter is an extremely impressive engineering achievement that is literally just about to be opened, so no looking back to the past this time. The Gotthard Base Tunnel through the Alps is to be the world’s longest tunnel at a fantastic 57km (35 miles) in length. Despite the length and the technical challenges, the tunnel was completed in just 17 years. Opening in just two days time, the Swiss are rightly proud of this and have launched a gold coin that depicts the opening at the northern end. Struck in 11g of 90% pure gold, the design by Fredi Trumpi is modern and clean, going for a stylistic vision of the entrance rather than a realistic one to fine effect.
Also by Trumpi, the southern end of the tunnel is depicted in the years first silver coin and is clearly in the same style. Marc Roulin designed the mints 150 Years of the Swiss Red Cross coin and it’s a clever piece, distilling down all the elements of this humanitarian organisation into a potent depiction – very clever. The third silver coin, just launched, was designed by Italian-born engraver, Remo Mascherini, and celebrates the Swiss love of wind (the music, not the Blazing Saddles campfire kind….). Brass Bands are very popular in Switzerland, and the coins depiction of a wind instrument (at this point I’m doubly pleased it’s the music kind!!) over a string of musical notation gets the message across with exceptional clarity.
All the silver coins are produced in an unusual 0.835 fineness that, while it has been used in many European countries in the past, has largely been moved away from in recent years. There are 30,000 of each struck in an uncirculated quality, and a further 5,000 struck in proof with a presentation box. We’d not normally see the point in commemorative coins in the former finish, but the quality is high and the prices low. The difference in cost is quite hefty indeed, just 25CHF (£17, $25, €23) for the uncirculated compared to 55CHF (£28, $55, €50) for the proof, so if the design is more important than the outright collectability, it’s a great way to get the coin at a huge saving, especially so as both are identical in composition. All are available to buy from the Swiss Mint coin shop (blue button link below).