Swiss 20 Franc
(Helvetia or Vreneli)
Grade range: Uncirculated/Brilliant Uncirculated
Minted 1897 - 1935
Actual Gold Content: .1867 troy ounce
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Owing to its central geographic location among the great powers of Europe, Switzerland has been a commercial and banking center for centuries. It is famous for its role in the gold market where "the gnomes of Zurich" are said to hold much sway. The "gnomes" made their first splash in the gold market when they convinced South Africa that Swiss bankers would be a better market for its gold than the London variety. Russian gold business quickly followed the South African lead. Noted gold authority Timothy Green once said that, "Gold is as much a part of Switzerland as the Alps and skiing."
Many individuals in Europe and elsewhere who do not trust their own governments and financial systems trust the Swiss to handle their money. As a result, much of the world's privately held gold is stored secretly in Swiss vaults. For centuries, Swiss bankers and money men have recommended gold coins and bullion as standard portfolio inclusion.
The Swiss 20 franc gold coins reflect Switzerland's commitment to both gold and republican principles. The 'Helvetia' is one of the most popular pre-1933 European gold coins, and traditionally trades at a very low premium over the gold price.
The Swiss 20 franc Helvetia is referred to informally as the "Vreneli" derived from "Verena" which is Switzerland's equivalent to the United States Lady Liberty. Modeled by Francoise Engli, this female visage appears on the obverse of the gold coin with the word "Helvetia" written above her head. When the Roman Empire extended northward into Gaul during the second century B.C., the Helvetii were the dominant tribe in the area, and thus Switzerland became known to the Romans as Helvetia. On the reverse is a picture of the Swiss Cross surrounded by a shield, lying on an oak branch.
Investor Note: Some firms offer the 1935 mintage at a lower comparative price to the earlier coinage. If your interest is to acquire items dated before 1933, be certain that you are not inadvertently buying the 1935 item.