Twenty Francs, Gold (Libertas), Coin Type from Switzerland - detailed information

Twenty Francs, Gold (Libertas), Coin Type from Switzerland (issued 1883 - 1896)
Coin TypeTwenty Francs, Gold (Libertas)

The Twenty Francs coin is a 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. The denomination is thus shown with a language-neutral abbreviation on the reverse: 20 FR.

When federal Swiss coinage was initially introduced in 1850, all "francs" (from five francs down to a half franc) were full-bodied silver, while the centimes were either billon (low-grade silver) or base metal. In 1883, the first 20 francs gold coin was introduced, with a design like the 5 francs coin at the time (but with a slightly different shield on the reverse, and a different female personification on the obverse). It contained 6.45 g gold at 90% purity, conforming with the standard of the Latin Monetary Union. In 1895, the Federal Council decided that the coin should be made with a novel design. A new depiction of Helvetia was introduced in 1897, known as the Vreneli design.

Coins of this first type are sometimes known as the Helvetia 20 Francs, even though the symbolic figure on them is Libertas.

The first series of banknotes, issued 1907, included no 10 or 20 francs denomination. The gold coins existed in circulation alongside the corresponding banknotes during 1911 - 1936. With the devaluation of 1936, the intrinsic value of the gold coins rose above their face value; however, they have never been formally demonetised, even though they were effectively withdrawn from circulation after 27 September 1936.

Obverse
Switzerland / Twenty Francs, Gold (Libertas) - obverse photo

Within a beaded border, the obverse design of the coin shows a depiction of Libertas - the female personification of Liberty - by Albert Walch. Libertas is seen in profile, facing left, with a garland of edelweiss flowers in her hair, wearing a diadem with the text LIBERTAS (Latin for Liberty) on it.

Around left and right, the legend CONFŒDERATIO HELVETICA (translated from Latin: Confederation of Switzerland).

Obverse Inscription CONFŒDERATIO HELVETICA
Reverse
Switzerland / Twenty Francs, Gold (Libertas) - reverse photo

The reverse design by Christian Bühler features, within a beaded border, the Coat of Arms of Switzerland being a Swiss Cross on a plain shield, with thin vertical lines in the background as a "heraldic colour" (tincture) signifying red. The shield is within a wreath of oak leaves and laurels; above the shield, a star.

The value 20 is to the left of the shield, and the denomination - abbreviated to FR - is to the right. Below that, the date: [year].

Reverse Inscription 20 FR [year]
EdgeInscribed (lettering in relief)Edge InscriptionDOMINUS *** PROVIDEBIT **********
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Twenty Francs, Gold (Libertas): Details
CountrySwitzerland
CurrencySwiss Franc
Sub-type ofTwenty Francs, Gold
From1883
To1896
Face Value20 (x Franc)
CurrentNo; withdrawn 1936
Material0.900 Gold
DesignerChristian Bühler, Albert Walch
TechnologyMilled (machine-made)
ShapeRound
OrientationCoin Alignment (Axis 6)
Size21.000 mm
Mass6.452 g