The Five 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 normal circulating 5 FR denomination went through several transformations: with a seated figure of Helvetia on the obverse, then a portrait of Helvetia, then the current design by Paul Burkhard - all of these in silver with the specifications of the Latin Monetary Union, until in 1931 when the coins were made smaller and the content was slightly debased. Starting in 1936, the country also occasionally issued circulating commemorative one-year type 5 Franc coins in silver to mark various important occasions, then - when silver was demonetised in 1971 - the denomination became copper-nickel.
An extensive series of copper-nickel circulating commemoratives were issued between 1974 and 1990 (in parallel with the regular design). For several years after that (1991 to 1998), no commemoratives were issued in this denomination.
In 1999, Swissimint changed the concept and started striking non-circulating commemoratives for collectors only, like the coins issued below - with topics celebrating various aspects of Swiss cultural and national heritage, and not people and events as before. These were denominated as 5 Francs at first, but after only six coins were issued in the first five years, this format was discontinued. Further non-circulating bimetallic coins are now denominated as 10 Francs.
The 2001 Five Francs collector coin celebrates the Zürich spring holiday known as Sechseläuten (German: Zürcher Sechseläuten; Zürich German: Sächsilüüte).
This traditional spring holiday is celebrated in the Swiss city of Zürich in its current form since the early 20th century, usually on the 3rd Monday of April. The roots of the festival however go back to medieval times when the first day of summer working hours was celebrated in the guildhalls across the city. City ordinances strictly regulated the length of the working day in that era. During the winter semester the workday in all workshops lasted as long as there was daylight, but during the summer semester (i.e. starting on Monday following vernal equinox) the law proclaimed that work must cease when the church bells tolled at six o'clock. Sechseläuten is a Swiss German word that literally translates into "The six o'clock ringing of the bells". Changing to summer working hours traditionally was a joyous occasion because it marked the beginning of the season where people had some non-working daylight hours.
Bimetallic 5 Franc coins are legal tender but are issued in small quantities for collectors only and do not circulate.