The iconic Swiss national hero William Tell is the subject of Switzerland’s 2018 gold coin
It’s that time of the year when the Swiss Mint issues its annual gold coin and after showing off Barry, a legendary Saint Bernard rescue dog, last year, it’s the turn of an altogether far more famous subject in 2018 – William Tell. A tale well over 500 years old, the story of the crossbow-wielding Tell shooting the apple off his sons head has entered popular folklore worldwide.
Designed by Swiss artist Angelo Boog, the coin depicts William Tell with hands outstretched and holding a crossbow in one of them. The Swiss national cross is located at the top and the title ‘WILHELM TELL’ is inscribed to the left. The artists name is inscribed in smaller characters near the bottom. The obverse is the standard effort that the Swiss Mint puts on 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.
The coin is struck in 11.29 grams of 0.900 fineness gold and it comes in a box much like the little red ones used by the Austrian Mint, and with a certificate of authenticity. It’s priced at 580.00 CHF. The mintage is set at 4,500 pieces, with 250 coming with an artist signed certificate for an extra 10.00 CHF. The artist edition sold out virtually instantly, unfortunately. Available to order now.
The work of Tell is mentioned for the first time in the White Book of Sarnen which is a chartulary written by the civic recorder Hans Schriber from Obwalden around 1470. In addition, as a figure Tell crops up at the time of the Burgundian Wars in the Song about the origin of the Confederation (“Song of Tell” of 1477). In 1507, his story was recorded in the Chronicle of the City of Lucerne by Melchior Russ and Petermann Etterlin and printed for the first time. It also found its way into the Swiss Chronicles written by Heinrich Brennwald of Zurich between 1508 and 1516.
Around 1570, the chronicler Aegidius Tschudi condensed the various handed down oral and written versions of Tell’s narrative into a saga which he dated 1307. The popular theatre performances in Central Switzerland also helped spread the Tell legend. The dramatisation of the Tell legend by Friedrich Schiller (the premiere was in 1804) made the story well known initially in Europe and later on worldwide. Schiller drew extensively on the chronicle of Aegidius Tschudi. Schiller’s play is the basis for the great opera Guillaume Tell by Gioachino Rossini. Earlier depictions showed Tell in different costumes depending on the spirit of the time. Tell as we imagine him today, i.e. in a herdsman’s cowl and with a beard, was influenced by the Tell monument by the sculptor Richard Kissling (1895) in Altdorf and by the famous Tell painting by Ferdinand Hodler dated 1897.
In memory of this famous Swiss, Swissmint has issued on 26 April 2018 a 50-franc gold coin designed by Angelo Boog. It is available in ‘proof’ quality in a presentation case at our online-shop or from selected coin dealers and some banks.
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