Helvetia Head (Vreneli) 20 CHF Gold Coin

Vreneli gold coins are the informal name for a series of gold coins made in Switzerland. This coin has several names, the official name being Helvetia Head (English) Tête d’Helvetia (French) or Helvetiakopf (German). Informally, it is also known as Vreneli, Helvetia, Swiss Miss or just as Gold 20 CHF. Vreneli is a gold coin, but also has numismatic supporters.

These coins were issued between 1897 and 1936, 1947 and 1949. The coin ceased to be legal tender in 1936, and all coins issued after 1936 are reminted.

The collection includes 10, 20 and 100 CHF coins. 20 francs is by far the most popular. The 100-franc coin was only issued in 1925, and only 5,000 were issued. In this series, approximately 61 million coins have been produced.

All coins are made of 90% gold (900 per cent).

On the front is the head of a young lady with only “HELVETIA” written on it. Female figures have curly hair and a dress draped over their shoulders. The background is the Swiss mountains.

The reverse of the 20 franc coin is a Swiss shield with the Swiss Cross on it, an oak wreath tied with a ribbon, the denomination on the left (20 in this case) and the currency on the right (FR stands for Swiss Franc).

one coin, many names

The design was designed by Fritz Ulysse Landry in 1895 and the model for the front is believed to be Françoise Engli.

Since there is only one inscription on the obverse, the coin is called Helvetia. Helvetia is the female national incarnation of Switzerland, officially known as Confœderatio Helvetica, the Swiss Confederation. Helvetia is also a variant of Switzerland’s official Latin name.

The name Vreneli, although derived from Verena, is the incarnation of another female portrait of the Swiss Confederation (similar to the American Statue of Liberty). This is why these coins are sometimes colloquially referred to as Miss Switzerland.

The coins were minted at the Swiss Mint in Bern (although the dies were engraved at the Paris Mint). These coins bear Bern’s “B” (pointless) mint mark. Mints that strike again are marked “L”.

The specifications for the 20 franc coin are:

  • Diameter: 21mm
  • Thickness: 1.25mm
  • Weight: 6.45g, so gold content is 5.805g or 0.1866 oz

The 10-franc coin weighs 3.23 grams and the solid gold is 2.9 grams.