Five Centimes (Rappen), Billon, Coin Type from Switzerland - detailed information

Five Centimes (Rappen), Billon, Coin Type from Switzerland (issued 1855 - 1877)
Coin TypeFive Centimes (Rappen), Billon

The Five Centimes coin is currently the smallest circulating denomination of the Swiss Franc, after the One Centime and Two Centimes denominations were demonetised in 2007 and 1978 respectively. Given that Switzerland has four official languages, the sub-unit of the Franc has four different names; it is centime (c.) in French, Rappen (Rp.) in German, centesimo (ct.) in Italian and rap (rp.) in Romansh. Some English-language catalogues call the coin a "5 Rappen" coin, but the English-language publications of the Swiss National Bank and Swissmint prefer the word "5 centimes".

Coins of the 5 centime (Rappen) denomination went through several transformations in their history. This first version of the coin was designed by Carl Friedrich Voigt of the Munich Mint (then Royal Bavarian Mint). On the obverse it features the Swiss Coat of Arms (a rendering quite different from that on the One Centime and Two Centimes denominations released at the same time but designed by Alexander Hutter), on two sheaves of wheat. The reverse shows the value (only a numeral, no text) within a wreath of grape leaves and grapes. This original reverse has remained unchanged and is still used on current coins.

This version was lighter (1.67 grams) and made of billon (an alloy with a very low quantity of silver), the composition of which varied through the years: 5% silver, 60% copper, 25% zinc, 10% nickel (1850, 1851), 5% silver, 85% copper, 5% zinc, 5% nickel (1872, 1873), 5% silver, 65% copper, 20% zinc, 10% nickel (1874 - 1877). For the first two years of its existence, the denomination was struck by the Strasbourg Mint (at that time a branch of the Paris Mint); thereafter it has been issued by the Bern Mint (now Swissmint).

It was issued until 1877; in 1879, the obverse was changed to a design by Karl Schwenzer featuring the effigy of Libertas; the metal was changed to copper-nickel and the coin became slightly heavier (2 grams).

The first version was demonetised on 30th June 1886.

Obverse
Switzerland / Five Centimes (Rappen), Billon - obverse photo

The obverse features the Swiss Coat of Arms (a rendering quite different from that on the One Centime and Two Centimes denominations released at the same time but designed by Alexander Hutter), on two sheaves of wheat. Around above is the legend HELVETIA. Around below, the date: [year].

Obverse Inscription HELVETIA [year]
Reverse
Switzerland / Five Centimes (Rappen), Billon - reverse photo

The reverse shows the value 5 (only a numeral, no text) within a wreath of grape leaves and grapes. This original reverse has remained unchanged since 1850 to present.

The mint mark is under the ribbon tying the wreath: BB for the Strasbourg Mint in 1850 and 1851, B for the Bern Mint later.

Reverse Inscription 5
EdgePlainEdge InscriptionNone
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Five Centimes (Rappen), Billon: Details
CountrySwitzerland
CurrencySwiss Franc
Sub-type ofFive Centimes (Rappen)
From1855
To1877
Face Value5 (x Centime)
CurrentNo (demonetised 1886)
MaterialBillon
DesignerCarl Friedrich Voigt
TechnologyMilled (machine-made)
ShapeRound
OrientationMedal Alignment (Axis 0)
Size17.150 mm
Thickness1.250 mm
Mass1.670 g
Five Centimes (Rappen), Billon: Photos
ImageDetails
Switzerland 5 Rappen 1874
Copyright: numis-kimel
Source
Switzerland 5 Rappen 1874
Copyright: numis-kimel
Source