Swiss Mint launches a mind-bending coin celebrating the illusions of artist Sandro del-Prete

When you think of mind-twisting pieces of art, the first name that springs to mind is the legendary M.C. Escher, but that isn’t to say his is the only voice in the genre. One of the loudest is Swiss artist Sandro del Prete, who began to experiment with the style in the sixties, going on to produce a large and varied body of work. There’s a certain pleasure to be gained staring at art like this, trying to work out what works and what doesn’t in reality, and where the possible becomes the impossible.

The new Swiss Mint coin takes one of del Prete’s more recognisable works and simply reproduces it as a clean strike, but without the background. That’s a decision we wholeheartedly agree with, as trying to change it, or embellish it for the coin would likely just have ruined the effect, and it isn’t like the Swiss Mint is particularly renowned for its use of colour anyway. It’s a fantastic work and a classic of the type. Just the artists signature sits here as an inscription. The obverse is the usual Swiss design, being clean, simple, but ultimately dull. It’s a strictly functional thing.

Like most of these Swiss issues, it’s formed of 0.835 fineness silver and is available in four almost identical variants. The proof quality pair are sold boxed and with either a signed (250 pieces) or unsigned (4,750) certificate. They sell for 70CHF and 60CHF respectively, although the former has already sold out, as they always do. The unciculated finish pair come either encapsulated (19,000 pieces), or in a themed gatefold pack (1,000) which you can see below. At 30CHF and 40CHF respectively, they’re great value, although the latter has sold out at the mint as well. A very cool coin.


In the narrower sense of the word, an illusion is a trick of the senses, i.e. a false perception of reality. Optical illusions can be created using various elements: movement, brightness and contrast, colours, geometrical and angular illusions or even three-dimensionality. Various painters and artists use these optical techniques (trompe l’oeil) to create unusual and surprising effects for the observer in a bid to evoke amazement and astonishment. As a matter of fact, this form of art has not yet been given a definitive name.

The Swiss artist Sandro Del-Prete is an important representative of drawings and objects involving optical illusions, which he calls “illusorism”. A typical example of this is his oil painting “The Bridge of Life”, which was used as the model for the silver coin. Writing about this painting, he said, among other things: “The people are perpetually moving forward, towards the observer, and are never seen from behind. They are always heading towards the end of life. As no one gets younger as time passes, no one can be seen from behind either. This contains and illustrates one of the secrets of the universe: Where is the past? Where is the present? Where is the future?”

DENOMINATION 20 CHF (Switzerland)
COMPOSITION 0.835 silver
WEIGHT 20.0 grams
FINISH ver1 Proof
FINISH ver2 Uncirculated
MINTAGE 2,000 Proof, 20,000 Uncirculated
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes (proof)