On 23 January 2020 Swissmint released a new type of gold collector coin, dedicated to eminent physicist Albert Einstein. The coin is the smallest machine-minted gold coin in the world. Measuring only 2.96 millimetres in diameter and with a weight of 0.063 grams, the .999 pure gold coins carry a legal tender denomination of 1/4-franc (or 1/500 ounce). Because the image on the minted sides cannot normally be seen with the naked eye, Swissmint has commissioned special packaging complete with magnifying lenses and a light source, ensuring that each coin can be examined while still keeping it safely stored.
"For the obverse of the smallest gold coin in the world, Swissmint drew inspiration from Albert Einstein, not least because of his determination and patience. From 1895 to 1914, Einstein lived mainly in Switzerland, where he also completed his studies in 1900, at today's ETH in Zurich. In 1901, he was granted Swiss citizenship and in 1902 he found permanent employment as a technical expert in the Patents Office in Bern. It was in 1905 that he published what is probably the most famous formula in the world: E=mc2."
The coins are, obviously, not meant for circulation so are classified as Non-Circulating Legal Tender (NCLT) targeted at collectors.
The designer Remo Mascherini was born in Florence, Italy, in 1958 and grew up in Kehrsatz in the canton of Bern after his parents moved to Switzerland. After he finished school, he completed four years of vocational training in engraving under the renowned Bernese relief engraver Klaus Graber. He also attended the Bern School of Arts and Crafts (now called the School of Design), where he completed courses in engraving, drawing and three-dimensional design. Having spent many years working for companies in the packaging and graphic arts industry, he has a wealth of professional experience, particularly in his specialisation of relief and steel-plate engraving.
Since 2009, he has been designing his engraving templates and reliefs on a computer using a CAD/CAM system. In 2013, Remo Mascherini took up the post of engraver at Swissmint.
The coins were issued at the price of 199 Fr. and were announced to be on sale "until 22 January 2023 or while stock lasts" but were sold out almost immediately.
In April 2021, Swissmint announced that the Guinness Book of Records has recognised the ¼-franc gold coin issued in 2020 as the world's smallest commemorative coin.