The Two Centimes coin was the second smallest circulating denomination of the Swiss Franc (after the One Centime) from its inception in 1850 until it was demonetised in 1978. 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 "2 Rappen" coin, but the English-language publications of the Swiss National Bank and Swissmint prefer the word "2 centimes".
Swissmint states that the first version of the coin was designed by Alexander Hutter and engraved by Jean-Jacques Barre of Monnaie de Paris (the Paris Mint), where Swiss coins were struck for the first couple of years after their introduction. This was used for almost a century until, in November 1947, the Swiss Federal Mint (now Swissmint) put out a call for new designs of the one and two centime coins, for which Josef Tannheimer won the first prize. Starting in 1948, these coins were minted with his designs, until they were discontinued in 2006 and 1974 respectively. Coins carrying the first design were demonetised on 1st February 1952.
Excluding the years of the Second World War, when coins were struck of zinc between 1942 and 1946, the composition of the 2 centimes coin did not change; it was made of a bronze alloy of 95% copper, 4% tin and 1% zinc. Its diameter did not change either, but thickness and weight of the coin varied: it was 2.5 grams between 1850 and 1931, 3.0 grams in the periods 1932 - 1941 and 1948 - 1974, and 2.4 grams for the zinc coins between 1942 and 1946.
The denomination was not very popular; coins were not issued as frequently as their one centime counterpart, and were demonetised on 1st January 1978, almost thirty years before the one centime.
The first type obverse (1850 - 1946), designed by Alexander Hutter and engraved by Jean-Jacques Barre, features at its centre within a beaded circle the Swiss Coat of Arms (equilateral wide "Swiss" cross on a rounded triangular shield, thin vertical lines being a heraldic representation of the red background), with a broad-brimmed feathered hat on top, on a laurel branch (left) and an oak branch (right). The legend HELVETIA (the Latin name of the female personification of Switzerland) is around above. The date is around below.
The second type obverse (1948 - 1974), designed by Josef Tannheimer, features at its centre the Swiss cross only. The legend · HELVETIA · (larger than on earlier coins) is around above, separated by dots from the date around below.
The first type reverse (1850 - 1946), designed by Alexander Hutter and engraved by Jean-Jacques Barre, features at its centre within a beaded circle the numeral 2 representing the value, surrounded by a laurel wreath. The mint mark, A for the Paris Mint in 1850 and 1851, or B for Swissmint (previously known as the Bern / Berne Mint or the Federal Mint of Switzerland) thereafter, is under the ribbon tying the wreath.
The second type reverse (1948 - 1974), designed by Josef Tannheimer, features at its centre the numeral 2 representing the value, partly overlaid on an ear of wheat. The mint mark B for Swissmint is under the value, except for the years between 1970 to 1985 (incl.) when a mint mark was not displayed.