The hills are alive with the sound of Ducati’s! Swiss Mint wraps up its Alpine Passes series and more.

The Swiss Mint continues its unique look at the geography, technology and people of the beautiful Alpine nation of Switzerland with three new additions to their range of silver numismatics. Two are unique designs, and one is the third and last in a small series. All have a common obverse.

The Swiss Mint uses a pretty rare format for its silver issues. These 20 CHF coins are composed of twenty grams of 0.835 silver, which is quite unusual, although not the most desirable given the popularity of the three-nines, and even four nines fineness silver used by most other mints. If that isn’t a bother for you, there’s much to like here, with the chosen subjects rarely seen elsewhere. All are available to order now.

NEW RAIL LINK ALPS: CENERI

The first one we’re looking at is linked to, but not a part of the mints ‘Alpine Passes’ series of coins.Switzerland is rightly proud of its historic and modern feats of engineering allowing the passage of people and trade over one of Europe’s harshest topographies. The 15.4 km long Ceneri Base Tunnel commenced construction on 2 June 2006 with the laying of a foundation stone, and it commenced rail operations on 4 September 2020.

The coin designed by Swissmint’s engraver, the Florentine, Remo Mascherini, and has taken a bold contemporary look at the structure. Lots of sweeping lines and open space give this a very modern feel that will probably look great in hand. A boxed proof variant is the only variant on offer and has a mintage capped at 7,500 pieces. The obverse design below also applies to the other coins here as it’s a Swiss Mint common one.

MINTS DESCRIPTION

The Ceneri base tunnel is 15.4 kilometres long and is the third-largest New Rail Link through the Alps (NRLA) construction project after the Lötschberg and Gotthard base tunnels. Its portals are located to the north near Bellinzona and to the south in Vezia near Lugano. Like the Gotthard base tunnel, it consists of two single-track bores roughly 40 metres apart, connected by cross-passages set at 325 metre intervals (48 in total). 2.5 kilometres in front of the southern portal in Vezia is the Sarè underground junction, which will permit the tunnel’s future extension southwards. For planning and financial reasons, construction of this extension has been scheduled for 2030.

To connect the Ceneri base tunnel to the existing rail network, various structures have been built at the Camorino intersection at the tunnel’s north portal. At the request of the canton of Ticino, the so-called “Bretella” – a new direct rail link between Locarno and Lugano – has been built. For Ticino, the Ceneri base tunnel thus represents a quantum leap for public transport, thanks to considerably reduced journey times. Effective construction costs amount to around CHF 3.6 billion. The Ceneri base tunnel will operate at a daily capacity of 170 freight and 180 passenger trains , with the latter reaching speeds of 200km an hour in the tunnel (according to the timetable). After 12 years under construction, the Ceneri base tunnel will go into operation in December 2020.

Sources: Federal Office of Transport (FOT), AlpTransit Gotthard AG, Wikipedia

SWISS ALPINE PASSES 03: SUSTEN PASS

The next one is the third and last issue in the aforementioned ‘Swiss Alpine Passes’ series’, and follows the Klausen Pass and Furka Pass coins released over the last two years. If you’re familiar with those, there’ll be no surprises here. A route through a contour map of the region it passes through fills the background field and a vehicle sits in the foreground. Previous coins have used a vintage racecar and a bus – this time it’s a motorbike and sidecar.

This has always been an interesting series for me. Incorporating history, nature and technology, it has a wide appeal, tying in with our stereotypical view of Switzerland as a country. The border is a little overwide, but Sicilian designer Vito Noto has done a good job. We’d absolutely love to see CIT do a smartminted, borderless, high-relief version of this series!

A proof variant of course (5,000 pieces), but also a far cheaper brilliant uncirculated coin with a mintage of 20,00o is also on the table. The latter is available in the pictured folder pack (1,000) or simply as a coin (19,000). The proof sells for a reasonable 60 CHF, but the latter a far cheaper 40 CHF or 30 CHF.

MINTS DESCRIPTION

As far back as the Middle Ages, there has been a trade route over the Susten Pass. However, apart from periods when neighbouring passes were closed, it was always less important as a north-south trade route than the Brünig-Grimsel-Gries/Albrun to the west and the Gotthard to the east. But during the religious conflict between the protestant and catholic parts of Switzerland, the Susten Pass acquired a degree of military importance.

The old bridle path was first converted into a navigable road in 1811. Before the Second World War, the army demanded the construction of a modern route between the cantons of Bern and Uri for strategic reasons. But there were other reasons too, such as encouraging tourism and promoting economic development in this mountainous region. The current pass road is 45km long and connects Wassen in Uri’s Meiental with Meiringen in the Haslital of the canton of Bern. Construction took place between 1938 and 1946. The aim was to involve as much manual labour as possible and to blend the construction into the landscape, which is why all the retaining walls were clad in natural stone. Unlike the old Susten Pass road, the new road passes underneath the top of the pass (2,259 metres above sea level) in a summit tunnel 2,224 metres above sea level. The Susten Pass is open from around mid-June to mid-October each year and whoever travels along its numerous bridges and tunnels will be able to enjoy a superb mountain landscape.

Sources: Historisches Lexikon der Schweiz, Wikipedia

150 YEARS OF SWISS FIREFIGHTING ASSOCIATION

A completely different subject from the previous pair, this issue celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Swiss Firefighting Association. What better way to depict the heroism and bravery of these individuals than to show them in action. Bavarian designer Benjamin Lobbert has successfully encapsulated the best of the service in his choice of recue from a, presumably, burning building.

Again, a proof or a brilliant uncirculated version is on offer, with packaging, pricing and mintages identical to the Susten Pass coin. A particularly nice issue with a worthy subject.

MINTS DESCRIPTION

The Swiss Firefighters Association represents the interests of both part-time and professional firefighters in Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein. The idea of founding the association was first mooted in 1869 in Herisau in the canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden. It was established in Aarau in 1870 as what was then still a club. The Swiss Firefighters Association is therefore celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2020. Today, supporting the interests of firefighters and exchanging knowledge are still important aims of the association. Furthermore, the Swiss Firefighters Association is a modern and innovative service company that works in a performance and results-oriented manner. It supports the cantonal associations, brings together the language regions of Switzerland and is politically neutral. Finally, the association serves as a link to the national partners in civil protection and is active internationally.

In all these activities, the Swiss Firefighters Association aims to support the fire departments in creating the best possible conditions and to help motivate young people to join them. Recruitment of firefighters is also becoming increasingly difficult as fewer and fewer people are signing up for voluntary and part-time work. This is especially the case when such work involves responsibility or is unpaid or remuneration is very low. Yet, voluntary and part-time work is part of the basis of our direct democracy.

SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION 20 CHF (Switzerland)
COMPOSITION 0.835 silver
WEIGHT 20.0 grams
DIMENSIONS 33.0 mm
FINISH Proof or BU
MODIFICATIONS None
MINTAGE Variable
BOX / C.O.A. Variable
SWISS MINT