Swiss francs

Franc of Switzerland, with images, characteristics and history

The franc (ISO 4217: CHF or 756) is the currency and legal tender of Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Franc banknotes are issued by the central bank of Switzerland, the Swiss National Bank, while coins are issued by the federal mint, Swissmint.

The Swiss franc is the only version of the franc still issued in Europe. Its name in the four official languages of Switzerland: Franken (German), franc (French and Rhaeto-Romanic), and franco (Italian). The smaller denomination, which is worth a hundredth of a franc, is called Rappen in German, centime in French, centesimo in Italian and rap in Rhaeto-Romanic.

The current franc was introduced in 1850 at par with the French franc. It replaced the different currencies of the Swiss cantons, some of which had been using a franc (divided into 10 batzen and 100 rappen) which was worth 1 French francs.

As of January 7, 2006, the Swiss franc was worth US$ 0.787278 or € 0.648418. Since mid-2003, it has been kept relatively stable to the Euro at a value of about 1.55 CHF per Euro, and so rises and falls against the U.S. dollar in tandem with the Euro.

The Swiss franc is considered to be a safe haven currency, with virtually zero inflation and almost totally backed by gold reserves. The Swiss franc has suffered devaluation only once, on 27 September 1936 during the Great Depression, when the currency was devalued by 30% following the devaluations of the British pound, U.S. dollar and French franc.

The banknotes are emitted by the National Bank of Switzerland, while the coins are minted by the Swiss Mint.

The coins in general circulation are the following:
(click the images to enlarge)

1 cent
1948-
16,0 mm
1,5 g
Cu 95%, Sn 4%, Zn 1%
1 cent Switzerland 1 cent Switzerland
5 cents
1981-
17,15 mm
1,8 g
Cu 92%, Al 6%, Ni 2%
2 cents Switzerland 2 cents Switzerland
10 cents
1979-
19,15 mm
3,0 g
Cu 75%, Ni 25%
10 cents Switzerland 10 cents Switzerland
20 cents
1939-
21,05 mm
4,0 g
Cu 75%, Ni 25%
20 cents Switzerland 20 cents Switzerland
1/2 franc
1968-
18,20 mm
2,2 g
Cu 75%, Ni 25%
1/2 franc Switzerland 1/2 franc Switzerland
1 franc
1968-
23,20 mm
4,4 g
Cu 75%, Ni 25%
1 franc Switzerland 1 franc Switzerland
2 francs
1968-
27,40 mm
8,8 g
Cu 75%, Ni 25%
2 francs Switzerland 2 francs Switzerland
5 francs
1968-
31,45 mm
13,2 g
Cu 75%, Ni 25%
5 francs Switzerland 5 francs Switzerland

In 2005, the federal government announced its intent to remove from circulation the 1 and 5 centime coins, as their production costs exceeds their face value. However, in the consultation procedure, this drew opposition from retailers and consumer groups.

In addition to these general circulation coins, numerous series of commemorative coins have been issued, as well as gold coins including the well-known Vreneli. These coins generally remain legal tender, but are not used as such because their material or collector's value usually exceeds their face value.

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les francs numismatique