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Swiss hope to make a mint out of new coins

Presentation coins are a new phenomenon in Switzerland. swissmint

Switzerland has minted its first-ever special edition coins designed to catch the eye of foreign collectors and tourists.

One carries the image of the Matterhorn mountain, while the other shows Chillon Castle on Lake Geneva.

The coins are due to be unveiled at this year’s World Money Fair in Basel on Friday.

“The launch of these coins is a worldwide premier,” Kurt Rohrer, the chairman of swissmint, told swissinfo.

This is the first time Switzerland has minted and sold coins solely for tourists and collectors – they cannot be used as legal tender.

The Basel fair is considered the biggest in the world and attracts around 80 per cent of its visitors from abroad.

Legal tender

Swissmint presses more than 40 million coins for legal tender each year.

Even though swissmint is part of the finance ministry it operates like a private business, receiving outside orders and looking for strategic partnerships.

It has recently formed an alliance with Switzerland Tourism, which is responsible for promoting holidays in Switzerland.

“Switzerland Tourism has already hooked up with the agricultural sector and has a partnership with Switzerland’s cheese producers,” Eva Brechtbühl of Switzerland Tourism told swissinfo.

“This new partnership means that we are forming an alliance with the Swiss finance ministry. It’s always good to have such an important partner,” she added.

“Even though these coins are only presentation coins, people immediately associate them with banking and with Switzerland.”

Coining it

Swissmint’s partnership with Switzerland Tourism is designed to encourage tourists and foreign collectors to snap up Swiss coins.

“The Germans are the biggest coin collectors,” Albert Beck, the president of the World Money Fair, told swissinfo.

Swissmint has announced it is only producing 200,000 of the special edition coins.

“Collectors want to know these things and there won’t be another edition of the Matterhorn or the castle – no matter how high the demand is going to be,” Rohrer said.

Jungfrau mountain

Swissmint has already planned its motifs for next year: the Jungfrau mountain in the Bernese Oberland and the Kappel Bridge in Lucerne.

“If the Matterhorn and the Chillon Castle coins sell like hot cakes, we will definitely mint more coins next year,” Rohrer said.

“Since the introduction of the euro and the end of the Deutschmark and French franc, Swiss francs have gained popularity abroad,” added Albert Beck.

Swissmint is also due to mint a special coin for the 100th anniversary of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (Fifa).

Fifa’s president, Sepp Blatter, and the former German footballer, Franz Beckenbauer, are due to open this year’s World Money Fair.

swissinfo, Alexander Künzle

Switzerland has launched two presentation coins for the first time ever.
One coin bears the image of the Matterhorn and is sold at SFr10.
The second coin bears the image of Chillon Castle and costs SFr20.
The coins are due to be released on Friday, January 30th, 2004.
The World Money Fair is the biggest coin fair in the world.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR