The Swiss Vreneli actually represents a range of gold bullion coins. The English name for the coin is Helvetia Head with the French formal name of Tete d’Helvetia and the German name Helvetiakopf. The informal name is “Swiss Miss”, which is based on the coin design.
Switzerland Vreneli History
Swiss Vreneli coins were minted between 1897 and 1936 and again in 1947 and 1949 with face values of 10, 20 and 100 Swiss francs. The gold content is a fineness of .900 which is common with gold coins used as legal tender. The more durable alloy allows the coins to withstand the handling common with currency coins.
The coins were minted at the Swiss Mint in Bern with die engraving done at the Paris mint. You will see a mint mark of “B” on the coins. There are about 61 million coins minted with no more than 5,000 of the 100 franc pieces minted only in the year 1925. The 20 franc piece is the most common and has been referred to as the “Euro before the euro”, because it is so widely used. The Vreneli are valued for their gold content and for their interest to collectors.
The design of the coins shows the word Helvetia over what is thought to be the Swiss version of “Lady Liberty”. The Helvetia figure is often shown with a tiara and the word “Libertas” meaning Liberty. The term Vreneli is thought to come from “Verena” which is a female effigy that personifies the Confederation of Switzerland. The coins issued between 1897 and 1949 were designed by Fritz Landry of Neuchatel Switzerland. The reverse of the coins shows the Swiss shield, with the Swiss Cross, a wreath of oak and the denomination.
There is a great deal of information available for collectors about the Swiss Vreneli gold bullion coins and their various production years. As with most collectible coins, when there are fewer coins in a particular minting the value is greater.
An interesting historical point is that part of the gold used for the Vreneli coinage is thought to have originated from the Peruvian Madre de Dios region which has its own wealth of history and legends.