Five Francs, Coin Type from Switzerland - detailed information

Five Francs, Coin Type from Switzerland (issued 1850 - )
Coin TypeFive Francs

The Five Francs coin is a circulating denomination of the Swiss Franc. Given that Switzerland has four official languages, the Franc has three different names: Franken in German, franc in French and Romansh, and franco in Italian. Initially when federal Swiss coinage was introduced in 1850, all "francs" (including the half franc) were full-bodied silver, while the centimes were either billon (low-grade silver) or base metal.

The first version of the five francs coin featuring a seated figure of Helvetia was designed by Friedrich Fisch and engraved by Antoine Bovy. The reverse shows the value, a numeral 5, and a language-neutral abbreviation of the denomination, Fr. within a wreath whose left part consists of oak branches and the right part of various Alpine flowers while the reverse shows the Seated Helvetia figure, consistent with the other Franc coins of the time - the half franc, one franc and two francs. This version was larger and heavier than current coins (25 grams) and made of 0.900 silver. It was issued between 1850 and 1874 and was initially struck by the Paris Mint and the Brussels Mint, then by the Bern Mint (now Swissmint).

In 1888, the coin was changed to a new design by Karl Schwenzer, with the reverse showing a shield within a wreath, and the obverse featuring a portrait of the symbolic figure Helvetia. Unlike the smaller denominations, its metal was not debased.

This changed again in 1922, to the current design by Paul Burkhard with a re-designed shield on the reverse and the figure of an Alpine herdsman on the obverse. The next transformation of the denomination was in 1931 when the coins were made smaller. The final change was in 1968 when silver content was abandoned, and the circulating earlier types were demonetised on 1st April 1971.

The current Five Franc coins are made of cupro-nickel and weigh 13.2 grams.

Obverse
Switzerland / Five Francs - obverse photo

The first version of the obverse (issued only in 1850, 1851, 1873 and 1874) features a seated figure of Helvetia, the female personification of the Confederation of Switzerland, resting on a plough whose two handles are seen to her right, and some grains; with her left hand she holds a triangular shield resting on the ground which bears the Swiss Cross inside an oval; her right arm is extended toward the left side of the obverse, pointing into the distance. The legend HELVETIA is around above her head. The engraver's name A. BOVY is in small letters to her left, written counter-clockwise (i.e. the letters face the opposite way to the legend).

The second obverse, issued between 1888 and 1916, shows a portrait of Helvetia by Karl Schwenzer. The legend reads CONFOEDERATIO HELVETICA; the date is also on the obverse, separated from the legend by a quatrefoil.

The third obverse (issued from 1922 to the present) by Paul Burkhard shows a hooded male figure representing an alpine herdsman (and not William Tell as some people think). The legend CONFOEDERATIO HELVETICA is around above.

The engraver's signature, P BVRKHARD INCT. (an abbreviation for the Latin text "Paul Burkhard incidit", meaning "engraved by Paul Burkhard), is below left on the figure's shoulder, incuse counter-clockwise in small letters.

Obverse Inscription CONFOEDERATIO HELVETICA
Reverse
Switzerland / Five Francs - reverse photo

The first version of the reverse (issued only in 1850, 1851, 1873 and 1874) shows the value, a numeral 5, and a language-neutral abbreviation of the denomination, Fr. within a wreath whose left part consists of oak branches and the right part of various Alpine flowers. The mint mark (A for the Paris Mint, B for the Bern Mint or B. for the Brussels Mint) is under the ribbon of the wreath.

The second version of the reverse was issued between 1888 and 1916. This design by Christian B├╝hler featured the Coat of Arms of Switzerland, being a Swiss Cross on a shield, with thin vertical lines in the background as a "heraldic colour" (tincture) signifying red. The shield is within a wreath, the left part of which consists of oak leaves and the right part of laurels; above the shield, a five-pointed star. The value 5 is to the left of the shield, and the denomination - abbreviated to F - is to the right. The mint mark B of the Bern Mint is under the ribbon.

The third and current reverse shows a modified Coat of Arms of Switzerland with a rounded shield and no tincture for the background colour, surrounded by flower wreaths. The value and denomination 5 FR. are above the shield; before 1924, the value was given as 5 Fr. (small "r") with thinner letters. The date is below the shield, and the mint mark is below the date.

Reverse Inscription 5 Fr. [year]
EdgeEdge Inscription
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Five Francs: Photos
ImageDetails
Coin, Switzerland, 5 Francs, 1851
Copyright: NumisCorner.com
Source
Coin, Switzerland, 5 Francs, 1851
Copyright: NumisCorner.com
Source