Vreneli


Vreneli

Vreneli is the informal name for a range of legal tender gold coins produced in Switzerland. The formal name is: "Tête d'Helvetia" (French), "Helvetiakopf" (German) or "Helvetia Head" (English). The coins were issued between 1897 and 1936, in 1947 and in 1949.

Description

These coins had face values of 10, 20 and 100 Swiss francs and were minted in a millesimal fineness of 900. The coins are sometimes colloquially called, “Swiss Miss,” from the obvious obverse motif. The 20 franc coin's reverse shows the Swiss shield, featuring the Swiss Cross, and a wreath of oak along with the denomination. The coins were minted at the Swiss Mint at Bern (although the die engraving was done at the Paris mint) and the coins are mint marked with a "B" (without a period). The 20 franc coins are 21 mm in diameter (about the size of a U.S. five cent piece), weigh 6.45 grams (gross weight) and; at 90% pure, contain .1845 ounces or 5.801 grams of pure gold.

Years of issue

The coins were issued between 1897 and 1936, in 1947 and in 1949.

Key mintage figures

Around 61 million coins were minted, although only 5,000 of the 100 franc pieces were produced and only in the year 1925. The 20 Franc coin is the most common, and it is popular as a bullion coin. However, the coins also hold a place in numismatic circles.

1926 - 20 francs

Among the 20 franc pieces, the 1926 coin with its mintage of only 50,000 pieces is the ostensible key to that series. However, the 1926 is relatively fairly common and the real keys to the series are said to be the 1903 and the 1904. This is based upon the fact that the major coin grading services have graded less than 10 coins of each date in all grades, while the 1926 has a graded population of over 200. [http://www.pcgs.com/pop/Category.aspx?c=1542 PCGS Populations report for Switzerland] [http://www.ngccoin.com/poplookup/poplookup-reportlarge.asp?MajorCategory=WORLD+COINS&CatDesc=SWITZERLAND+-+CONFEDERATION&Denom=G20F&OverrideDateSelection=Yes&Submit=Get+Matching+Coins NGC Population reports for Switzerland] Of course, populations depend upon the numbers of coins actually submitted by collectors which is inexorable tied to the popularity of a coin series, or lack there of among collectors. For a critique of population reports see Doug Winter's essay, February 2002. [http://www.raregoldcoins.com/downloads/20020201a.doc Are Population Reports Useful]

1925 - 100 francs

The 100 franc denomination was only struck in 1925 with a very limited mintage of 5,000.

The 10 franc series

The 10 franc denomination was struck in 1911 (100,000) through 1916 (130,000), inclusive, and in 1922 (10,200,000). Although the obverse is the same for the 10, 20 and 100 franc pieces, the reverse of the 10 and 100 are common depicting a radiant Swiss Cross above a branch.

The re-strikes of 1935

In 1935, 175,000 regular strikes of the 20 franc coins were produced. However, an additional twenty million (20,008,813) coins dated "L1935B" with the "L" indicating "lingot" or bullion and the "B" indicating the Bern mint, were re-struck in 1945 (3,500,000), 1946 (7,108,813) and 1947 (9,400,000). An additional 9,200,000 coins contemporaneously struck and dated in 1947 were also produced and are distinguished by the mint mark "B". There were no regular strikes produced in the years 1945 and 1946. [cite web | author= Swissmint | url= http://www.swissmint.ch/upload/_pdf/dokumentationen/d/PRAGELIS.PDF | title= Mintage figures for Swiss coins from 1850, status in January 2007 | accessdate=2007-06-11]

Historical Notes about the Coin Design

This coinage series was authorized by the law on January 6, 1896. The name of the coin derives from "Verena", a personification of the Confederation of Switzerland in the female effigy, (similar to the French Marianne or the American Lady Liberty) probably modeled by Françoise Engli, shown on the obverse of the coin. The coin is also known as a , Switzerland, whose signature, "F. Landry" appears on the coin under the portrait. The edge of the coin is imprinted with stars in relief.

"The euro before the 'euro'"

The 20 franc denomination with the aforementioned specifications (size and alloy and gold content) was first established by Napoleon for France in 1803. The denomination/specifications remained in usage until the First World War under what was known as the Latin Monetary League, the "euro before the euro", so-to-speak. Switzerland constituted itself in Confederation in 1848. It adopted the Swiss Franc, and aligned its currency on the French franc in 1850. It joined the Latin Union in December 1865. Switzerland had Swiss 20 franc pieces, Spain had 20 peseta coins, Italy had 20 lira pieces, Belgium had 20 Belgian franc coins, and Greece had 20 drachmas coins all of which circulated and were accepted throughout Europe. Only, for political reasons did the English and the German Empires refused to follow this direction. Attempts were even taken to explore the unification of the European currency with the American dollar, which explains the extremely rare U.S. pattern coins carrying $5 marking on the face and 25 franc markings on the reverse. An earlier Swiss gold coin had been issued between 1883 and 1896.

References

External links

* [http://www.swissmint.ch/e/numismatics/150_years.shtml Swissmint - 150 years of Swiss coinage]


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