initially when federal swiss neologism was introduced in 1850, all “ francs ” ( from five francs down to a half franc ) were full-bodied flatware, while the centimes were either billon ( low-grade silver ) or base metal. In 1883, the first 20 francs gold coin was introduced, with a design like the 5 francs mint at the time ( but with a slenderly different shield on the turn back, and a different female personification on the obverse ). It contained 6.45 g gold at 90 % purity, conforming with the standard of the Latin Monetary Union. In 1895, the Federal Council decided that the mint should be made with a fresh design. A depicting of Helvetia by Neuchâtel artist Fritz Ulysse Landry ( 1842 – 1927 ) was selected, which shows a female forefront with tresses in profile, with a wreath of edelweiss and an alpine view in the background. The design was widely democratic and given the endearing nickname of Vreneli .
The mention of the mint could derive from “ Verena ”, a personification of the Confederation of Switzerland in the female effigy, ( like to the french Marianne or the american Lady Liberty ) probably modeled by Françoise Engli, shown on the obverse of the coin. The name of the design could besides have roots in the narrative of William Tell, in which a character named “ Vreneli ” appears. The coin is besides known as a Helvetia from the inscription above the portrait. Helvetia actually connotes two ideas : it is a variation of the official Latin name of Switzerland, Confoederatio Helvetica or swiss Confederation, and, by elongation, it refers to the allegorical calculate of the swiss version of Lady Liberty.
The formal identify is : Tête d’Helvetia ( french ), Helvetiakopf ( german ) or Helvetia Head ( English ).
A 10 francs version of the Vreneli was besides produced from 1911 to 1922. The first series of banknotes, issue 1907, included no 10 or 20 francs appellation. The gold coins existed in circulation alongside the correspond banknotes during 1911 – 1936. With the devaluation of 1936, the intrinsic value of the gold coins rose above their side value ; however, they have never been formally demonetised, even though they were effectively withdrawn from circulation after 27 September 1936 .