The Swiss mint has released two new collectors coins for 2016, a gold 50 Franc and a silver 20 Franc coin.
Much like the silver 20 Franc released in late January, the new gold 50 Franc coin celebrates the completion of the Gotthard Base Tunnel. The Gotthard Base Tunnel is the worlds longest rail tunnel, spanning 57 km(35 mile) between it's north and south portals, with a total of 152km(94 mile) of excavated tunnels and shafts and passages. There are actually two two single-track tunnels connecting Erstfeld with Bodio while passing below Sedrun.
Ever since the first construction of a narrow wooden bridge across the Schöllenenschlucht gorge around the year 1220 the Gotthard pass has been of great economic and cultural significance. Over time the pass would be transformed from an arduous and dangerous mule path to winding gravel road where one could complete the journey from Zurich to Lugano in 48 hours by means of stagecoach. Then in 1882 the Gotthard summit tunnel opened and the same journey could be made by rail in just 8 hours.
Soon the route can be completed through the Gotthard Base tunnel in less than three, and when the Ceneri base tunnel becomes operational in 2020 that time can be reduced to just two hours.
The reverse of the coin depicts the south portal of the Gotthard Base Tunnel with a train just exiting the tunnel. This image mirrors the 20 Franc silver coin from January that depicted the north portal. The inscription on the reverse reads : “GOTTARDO 2016”.
The obverse has a typically minimalistic design, simply featuring the Swiss cross and the slightly offset legend : “CONFOEDERATIO HELVETICA”, “2016” and “50 FR”. Indicating the face value of 50 Swiss Franc, date and country of issue.
The proof quality gold 50 Franc coins have a suggested price of CHF580.00(US$585.00) with a limited mintage of 4500 coins. The coin is struck from .900 Fineness gold with a diameter of 25mm.
The second coin is the silver 20 Franc coin that celebrates an aspect of Swiss culture that is near to the heart of many, brass bands. This is a tradition that can be traced back hundreds of years. One of the fist brass band music festivals were held in Zofingen in 1862. Today there are more than 2000 societies and organizations in Switzerland dedicated to the art form.
Artist Remo Mascherini skillfully pays homage to this in his elegant reverse design of this coin. The coin depicts a brass tuba with waves of sheet music flowing underneath it. The legend reads”BLASMUSIK FANFARES”.
The obverse design of this coin is much the same as the gold coin described above, with the exception that the “50” is replaced by “20” to indicate the lower face value of the 20 Franc silver coin.
The silver 20 Franc coin is a reasonably large 33mm in diameter but struck from .835 Fineness silver and as such weighs in at 20gram. The 20 Franc will be available is both proof and uncirculated varieties.
The uncirculated silver 20 Franc coin will be sold in a blister pack at CHF20.00(US$25.00) with a mintage of 30 000 units.
The proof coin however will only have a limited mintage of 5000 coins and is released encapsulated in a red presentation case with a numbered certificate of authenticity for CHF55.00(US$55.50)