Swiss franc
Overview
 
The franc is the currency
Currency
In economics, currency refers to a generally accepted medium of exchange. These are usually the coins and banknotes of a particular government, which comprise the physical aspects of a nation's money supply...

 and legal tender
Legal tender
Legal tender is a medium of payment allowed by law or recognized by a legal system to be valid for meeting a financial obligation. Paper currency is a common form of legal tender in many countries....

 of Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 and Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein
The Principality of Liechtenstein is a doubly landlocked alpine country in Central Europe, bordered by Switzerland to the west and south and by Austria to the east. Its area is just over , and it has an estimated population of 35,000. Its capital is Vaduz. The biggest town is Schaan...

; it is also legal tender in the Italian exclave
Enclave and exclave
In political geography, an enclave is a territory whose geographical boundaries lie entirely within the boundaries of another territory.An exclave, on the other hand, is a territory legally or politically attached to another territory with which it is not physically contiguous.These are two...

 Campione d'Italia
Campione d'Italia
Campione d'Italia is an Italian comune of the Province of Como in the Lombardy region, occupying an enclave within the Swiss canton of Ticino, separated from the rest of Italy by Lake Lugano and mountains...

. Although not formally legal tender in the German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 exclave Büsingen
Büsingen
Büsingen am Hochrhein is a German town entirely surrounded by the Swiss canton of Schaffhausen and, south across the Rhine, by the cantons of Zürich and Thurgau. It has a population of about 1,450 inhabitants...

 (the sole legal currency is the euro
Euro
The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...

), it is in wide daily use there. The Swiss National Bank
Swiss National Bank
The Swiss National Bank is the central bank of Switzerland. It is responsible for Swiss monetary policy and for issuing Swiss franc banknotes.The names of the institution in the four official languages of the country are: ; ; ; ....

 issues banknotes and the federal mint Swissmint
Swissmint
Swissmint is the official mint of the Swiss Confederation. It is responsible for manufacturing Swiss franc coins, both of the currency and bullion variety. Apart from making coins for the government, Swissmint also manufactures medals and commemorative coins for private customers.Swissmint is an...

 issues coins
COinS
ContextObjects in Spans, commonly abbreviated COinS, is a method to embed bibliographic metadata in the HTML code of web pages. This allows bibliographic software to publish machine-readable bibliographic items and client reference management software to retrieve bibliographic metadata. The...

.

The Swiss franc is the only version of the franc
Franc
The franc is the name of several currency units, most notably the Swiss franc, still a major world currency today due to the prominence of Swiss financial institutions and the former currency of France, the French franc until the Euro was adopted in 1999...

 still issued in Europe. The smaller denomination, a hundredth of a franc, is a Rappen
Rappen
A Rappen originally was a variant of the medieval Pfennig common to the Alemannic German regions Alsace, Sundgau and Northern Switzerland. As with other German pennies, its half-piece was a Haller, the smallest piece which was struck.Today, one-hundredth of a Swiss franc is still officially...

(Rp.) in German, centime (c.) in French, centesimo (ct.) in Italian, and rap (rp.) in Romansh.
Encyclopedia
The franc is the currency
Currency
In economics, currency refers to a generally accepted medium of exchange. These are usually the coins and banknotes of a particular government, which comprise the physical aspects of a nation's money supply...

 and legal tender
Legal tender
Legal tender is a medium of payment allowed by law or recognized by a legal system to be valid for meeting a financial obligation. Paper currency is a common form of legal tender in many countries....

 of Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 and Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein
The Principality of Liechtenstein is a doubly landlocked alpine country in Central Europe, bordered by Switzerland to the west and south and by Austria to the east. Its area is just over , and it has an estimated population of 35,000. Its capital is Vaduz. The biggest town is Schaan...

; it is also legal tender in the Italian exclave
Enclave and exclave
In political geography, an enclave is a territory whose geographical boundaries lie entirely within the boundaries of another territory.An exclave, on the other hand, is a territory legally or politically attached to another territory with which it is not physically contiguous.These are two...

 Campione d'Italia
Campione d'Italia
Campione d'Italia is an Italian comune of the Province of Como in the Lombardy region, occupying an enclave within the Swiss canton of Ticino, separated from the rest of Italy by Lake Lugano and mountains...

. Although not formally legal tender in the German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 exclave Büsingen
Büsingen
Büsingen am Hochrhein is a German town entirely surrounded by the Swiss canton of Schaffhausen and, south across the Rhine, by the cantons of Zürich and Thurgau. It has a population of about 1,450 inhabitants...

 (the sole legal currency is the euro
Euro
The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...

), it is in wide daily use there. The Swiss National Bank
Swiss National Bank
The Swiss National Bank is the central bank of Switzerland. It is responsible for Swiss monetary policy and for issuing Swiss franc banknotes.The names of the institution in the four official languages of the country are: ; ; ; ....

 issues banknotes and the federal mint Swissmint
Swissmint
Swissmint is the official mint of the Swiss Confederation. It is responsible for manufacturing Swiss franc coins, both of the currency and bullion variety. Apart from making coins for the government, Swissmint also manufactures medals and commemorative coins for private customers.Swissmint is an...

 issues coins
COinS
ContextObjects in Spans, commonly abbreviated COinS, is a method to embed bibliographic metadata in the HTML code of web pages. This allows bibliographic software to publish machine-readable bibliographic items and client reference management software to retrieve bibliographic metadata. The...

.

The Swiss franc is the only version of the franc
Franc
The franc is the name of several currency units, most notably the Swiss franc, still a major world currency today due to the prominence of Swiss financial institutions and the former currency of France, the French franc until the Euro was adopted in 1999...

 still issued in Europe. The smaller denomination, a hundredth of a franc, is a Rappen
Rappen
A Rappen originally was a variant of the medieval Pfennig common to the Alemannic German regions Alsace, Sundgau and Northern Switzerland. As with other German pennies, its half-piece was a Haller, the smallest piece which was struck.Today, one-hundredth of a Swiss franc is still officially...

(Rp.) in German, centime (c.) in French, centesimo (ct.) in Italian, and rap (rp.) in Romansh. The ISO code of the currency used by banks and financial institutions is CHF, although "Fr." is used by most businesses and advertisers; some use SFr.; the Latinate "CH" stands for Confoederatio Helvetica.

Given the quadrilingual populace, Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 is used for language-neutral inscriptions on the coins.

Before the Helvetic Republic

Before 1798, about 75 entities were making coins in Switzerland, including the 25 canton
Cantons of Switzerland
The 26 cantons of Switzerland are the member states of the federal state of Switzerland. Each canton was a fully sovereign state with its own borders, army and currency from the Treaty of Westphalia until the establishment of the Swiss federal state in 1848...

s and half-cantons, 16 cities, and abbeys, resulting in about 860 different coins in circulation, with different values, denominations and monetary systems.

The local Swiss currencies included the Basel thaler
Basel thaler
The Thaler was the currency of the Swiss canton of Basel until 1798. It was subdivided into 30 Batzen, each of 4 Kreuzer or 8 Rappen. The currency was issued by both the Canton and Bishopric of Basel. It was replaced by the Frank of the Helvetian Republic in 1798...

, Berne thaler
Berne thaler
The Thaler was the currency of the Swiss canton of Berne until 1798. It was subdivided into 40 Batzen, each of 4 Kreuzer. It was replaced by the Frank of the Helvetian Republic in 1798...

, Fribourg gulden
Fribourg gulden
The Gulden was the currency of the Swiss canton of Fribourg until 1798. It was subdivided into 14 Batzen, each of 4 Kreuzer or 16 Denier. It was replaced by the Frank of the Helvetian Republic in 1798...

, Geneva thaler
Geneva thaler
The thaler was the currency of the Geneva until 1798 and between 1813 and 1839. It was subdivided into 12¾ florins, each of 12 sols, with the sol divided into 12 deniers.-History:...

, Geneva genevoise
Geneva genevoise
The genevoise was the short-lived currency of Geneva between 1794 and 1795. It was subdivided into 10 decimes . The genevoise replaced and was replaced by the thaler....

, Luzern gulden
Luzern gulden
The Gulden was the currency of the Swiss canton of Luzern until 1798. It was subdivided into 40 Schilling, each of 3 Rappen or 6 Angster. Coins were also issued denominated in Kreuzer and Batzen. It was replaced by the Frank of the Helvetian Republic in 1798...

, Neuchâtel gulden
Neuchâtel gulden
The gulden was the currency of Neuchâtel until 1850. It was subdivided into 21 batz, each of 4 creuzer. It was replaced by the Swiss franc.-Coins:...

, St. Gallen thaler
St. Gallen thaler
The Thaler was the currency of St. Gallen until 1798. It was subdivided into 2 Gulden, each of 60 Kreuzer or 240 Pfennig. It was replaced by the Frank of the Helvetian Republic in 1798. This was, in turn, replaced by the St. Gallen Frank. Coins were issued by both the Abbey of St...

, Schwyz gulden
Schwyz gulden
The Gulden was the currency of the Swiss canton of Schwyz until 1798. It was subdivided into 40 Schilling, each of 3 Rappen or 6 Angster. Coins were also issued denominated in Groschen. It was replaced by the Frank of the Helvetian Republic in 1798...

, Solothurn thaler
Solothurn thaler
The Thaler was the currency of the Swiss canton of Solothurn until 1798. It was subdivided into 40 Batzen, each of 4 Kreuzer or 8 Vierer. It was replaced by the Frank of the Helvetian Republic in 1798...

, Valais thaler
Valais thaler
The thaler was the currency of the Swiss canton of Valais until 1798. It was subdivided into 40 batz, each of 4 creuzer. It was replaced by the Frank of the Helvetian Republic in 1798.-Coins:...

 and the Zürich thaler
Zürich thaler
The Thaler was the currency of Zürich until 1798. It was subdivided into 2 Gulden, each of 36 Schillinge, with the Schilling divided into 4 Rappen or 12 Haller. It was replaced by the Frank of the Helvetian Republic in 1798. This was, in turn, replaced by the Zürich Frank...

.

Franc of the Helvetic Republic, 1798–1803

In 1798, the Helvetic Republic
Helvetic Republic
In Swiss history, the Helvetic Republic represented an early attempt to impose a central authority over Switzerland, which until then consisted mainly of self-governing cantons united by a loose military alliance, and conquered territories such as Vaud...

 introduced a currency based on the Berne thaler
Berne thaler
The Thaler was the currency of the Swiss canton of Berne until 1798. It was subdivided into 40 Batzen, each of 4 Kreuzer. It was replaced by the Frank of the Helvetian Republic in 1798...

, subdivided into 10 batzen or 100 rappen. The Swiss franc was equal to 6¾ grams pure silver or 1½ French francs.

This franc was issued until the end of the Helvetic Republic in 1803, but served as the model for the currencies of several canton
Cantons of Switzerland
The 26 cantons of Switzerland are the member states of the federal state of Switzerland. Each canton was a fully sovereign state with its own borders, army and currency from the Treaty of Westphalia until the establishment of the Swiss federal state in 1848...

s in the re-formed Swiss Confederacy. For these cantonal currencies, see Aargau frank
Aargau frank
The Frank was the currency of the Swiss canton of Aargau between 1798 and 1850. It was subdivided into 10 Batzen, each of 4 Kreuzer or 10 Rappen.-History:...

, Appenzell frank
Appenzell frank
The Frank was the currency of the Swiss canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden between 1798 and 1850. It was subdivided into 10 Batzen, each of 4 Kreuzer or 16 Pfenning.-History:...

, Basel frank
Basel frank
The Frank was the currency of the Swiss canton of Basel between 1798 and 1850.-History:The Frank was the currency of the Helvetian Republic from 1798, replacing the Thaler in Basel. The Helvetian Republic ceased issuing coins in 1803. Basel issued coins between 1805 and 1826, with the Frank...

, Berne frank
Berne frank
The Frank was the currency of the Swiss canton of Berne between 1798 and 1850. It was subdivided into 10 Batzen, each of 10 Rappen.-History:...

, Fribourg frank
Fribourg frank
The Frank was the currency of the Swiss canton of Fribourg between 1798 and 1850. It was subdivided into 10 Batzen, each of 4 Kreuzer or 10 Rappen.-History:...

, Geneva franc
Geneva franc
The franc was the currency of the Swiss canton of Geneva between 1839 and 1850. It was subdivided into 100 centimes.-History:The franc replaced the thaler in 1839. It was equal to the French franc. In 1850, the Swiss franc was introduced, with 1 Swiss franc = 1 Geneva franc.-Coins:Billon coins were...

, Glarus frank
Glarus frank
The Frank was the currency of the Swiss canton of Glarus between 1798 and 1850. It was subdivided into 100 Rappen, with the Schilling worth 3 Rappen.-History:...

, Graubünden frank
Graubünden frank
The Frank was the currency of the Swiss canton of Graubünden between 1798 and 1850. It was subdivided into 10 Batzen, each of 6 Bluzger.-History:...

, Luzern frank
Luzern frank
The Frank was the currency of the Swiss canton of Luzern between 1798 and 1850. It was subdivided into 10 Batzen, each of 10 Rappen or 20 Angster.-History:...

, St. Gallen frank
St. Gallen frank
The Frank was the currency of the Swiss canton of St. Gallen between 1798 and 1850. It was subdivided into 10 Batzen, each of 4 Kreuzer or 16 Pfennig.-History:...

, Schaffhausen frank
Schaffhausen frank
The Frank was the currency of the Swiss canton of Schaffhausen between 1798 and 1850. It was subdivided into 10 Batzen, each of 4 Kreuzer.-History:...

, Schwyz frank
Schwyz frank
The Frank was the currency of the Swiss canton of Schwyz between 1798 and 1850. It was subdivided into 10 Batzen, each of 10 Rappen or 20 Angster.-History:...

, Solothurn frank
Solothurn frank
The Frank was the currency of the Swiss canton of Solothurn between 1798 and 1850. It was subdivided into 10 Batzen, each of 4 Kreuzer or 10 Rappen.-History:...

, Thurgau frank
Thurgau frank
The Frank was the currency of the Swiss canton of Thurgau between 1798 and 1850. It was subdivided into 10 Batzen, each of 4 Kreuzer.-History:...

, Ticino franco
Ticino franco
The franco was the currency of the Swiss canton of Ticino between 1813 and 1850. It was subdivided into 20 soldi , each of 12 denari .-History:...

, Unterwalden frank
Unterwalden frank
The Frank was the currency of the Swiss canton of Unterwalden between 1798 and 1850. It was subdivided into 10 Batzen.-History:The Frank was the currency of the Helvetian Republic from 1798. The Helvetian Republic ceased issuing coins in 1803. Nidwalden issued coins in 1811 and Obwalden issued...

, Uri frank
Uri frank
The Frank was the currency of the Swiss canton of Uri between 1798 and 1850. It was subdivided into 10 Batzen, each of 10 Rappen.-History:...

, Vaud franc
Vaud franc
The franc was the currency of the Swiss canton of Vaud between 1798 and 1850. It was subdivided into 10 batz, each of 10 rappes. The usual price unit was the Batz.-History:...

 and Zürich frank
Zürich frank
The Frank was the currency of the Swiss canton of Zürich between 1798 and 1850. It was subdivided into 10 Batzen, each of 10 Rappen, with 2 Heller to the Rappen and 4 Rappen to the Schilling.-History:...

.

Franc of the Swiss confederation, 1850–

Although 22 cantons and half-cantons issued coins between 1803 and 1850, less than 15% of the money in circulation in Switzerland in 1850 was locally produced, with the rest being foreign, mainly brought back by mercenaries. In addition, some private banks also started issuing the first banknotes, so that in total, at least 8000 different coins and notes were in circulation at that time, making the monetary system extremely complicated.

In order to solve this problem, the new Swiss Federal Constitution
Swiss Federal Constitution
The Federal Constitution of 18 April 1999 is the third and current federal constitution of Switzerland. It establishes the Swiss Confederation as a federal republic of 26 cantons , contains a catalogue of individual and popular rights , delineates the responsibilities of the...

 of 1848 specified that the Federal Government would be the only entity allowed to make money in Switzerland. This was followed two years later by the first Federal Coinage Act, passed by the Federal Assembly on 7 May 1850, which introduced the franc as the monetary unit of Switzerland. The franc was introduced at par with the French franc
French franc
The franc was a currency of France. Along with the Spanish peseta, it was also a de facto currency used in Andorra . Between 1360 and 1641, it was the name of coins worth 1 livre tournois and it remained in common parlance as a term for this amount of money...

. 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 1½ French franc
French franc
The franc was a currency of France. Along with the Spanish peseta, it was also a de facto currency used in Andorra . Between 1360 and 1641, it was the name of coins worth 1 livre tournois and it remained in common parlance as a term for this amount of money...

s.

In 1865, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, and Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 formed the Latin Monetary Union
Latin Monetary Union
The Latin Monetary Union was a 19th century attempt to unify several European currencies, at a time when most circulating coins were still made of gold and silver...

, wherein they agreed to value their national currencies to a standard of 4.5 gram
Gram
The gram is a metric system unit of mass....

s of silver or 0.290322 grams of gold. Even after the monetary union faded away in the 1920s and officially ended in 1927, the Swiss franc remained on that standard until 1936, when it suffered its sole devaluation
Devaluation
Devaluation is a reduction in the value of a currency with respect to those goods, services or other monetary units with which that currency can be exchanged....

, on 27 September during the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

. The currency was devalued by 30% following the devaluations of the British pound
Pound sterling
The pound sterling , commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence...

, U.S. dollar
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

 and French franc
French franc
The franc was a currency of France. Along with the Spanish peseta, it was also a de facto currency used in Andorra . Between 1360 and 1641, it was the name of coins worth 1 livre tournois and it remained in common parlance as a term for this amount of money...

. In 1945, Switzerland joined the Bretton Woods system
Bretton Woods system
The Bretton Woods system of monetary management established the rules for commercial and financial relations among the world's major industrial states in the mid 20th century...

 and pegged the franc to the U.S. dollar at a rate of $1 = 4.30521 francs (equivalent to 1 franc = 0.206418 grams of gold). This was changed to $1 = 4.375 francs (1 franc = 0.203125 grams of gold) in 1949.

Between mid-2003 and mid-2006, the franc's exchange rate with the euro
Euro
The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...

 was stable at a value of about 1.55 CHF per euro, so that the Swiss franc rose and fell in tandem with the euro against the U.S. dollar and other currencies. In March 2008 the Swiss franc traded above one U.S. dollar for the first time.

The Swiss franc has historically been considered a safe-haven currency with virtually zero inflation and a legal requirement that a minimum of 40% be backed by gold reserves
Official gold reserves
A gold reserve is the gold held by a central bank or nation intended as a store of value and as a guarantee to redeem promises to pay depositors, note holders , or trading peers, or to secure a currency....

. However, this link to gold, which dates from the 1920s, was terminated on 1 May 2000 following a referendum. By March 2005, following a gold selling program, the Swiss National Bank
Swiss National Bank
The Swiss National Bank is the central bank of Switzerland. It is responsible for Swiss monetary policy and for issuing Swiss franc banknotes.The names of the institution in the four official languages of the country are: ; ; ; ....

 held 1,290 tonnes of gold in reserves which equated to 20% of its assets.

2011 appreciation

In March 2011 the franc climbed past the US$1.10 mark (CHF 0.91 per U.S. dollar). In June 2011 the franc climbed past US$1.20 (CHF 0.833 per U.S. dollar) as investors sought safety amidst the continuation of the Greek sovereign-debt crisis. Continuation of the same crisis in Europe and the debt crisis in the U.S. propelled the Swiss franc past US$1.30 (CHF 0.769 per U.S. dollar) as of August 2011, prompting the Swiss National Bank to boost the franc's liquidity in an attempt to counter its "massive overvaluation". The Economist
The Economist
The Economist is an English-language weekly news and international affairs publication owned by The Economist Newspaper Ltd. and edited in offices in the City of Westminster, London, England. Continuous publication began under founder James Wilson in September 1843...

argued that its Big Mac Index
Big Mac index
The Big Mac Index is published by The Economist as an informal way of measuring the purchasing power parity between two currencies and provides a test of the extent to which market exchange rates result in goods costing the same in different countries...

 in July 2011 indicated an overvaluation of 98% over the dollar and cited Swiss companies releasing profit warnings and threatening to move operations out of the country due to the strength of the franc. Demand for francs and franc-denominated assets was so strong that nominal short-term Swiss interest rates became negative.

On 6 September 2011 the SNB set a minimum exchange rate of 1.20 francs to the euro
Euro
The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...

 saying "the value of the franc is a threat to the economy", and that it was "prepared to buy foreign currency in unlimited quantities." In response to the announcement the franc fell against the euro, to 1.22 francs from 1.12 francs and lost 9% against the U.S. dollar within fifteen minutes. The intervention stunned currency traders since the franc had long been regarded as a safe haven.

The franc fell 8.8% against the euro, 9.5% against the dollar, and at least 8.2% against all 16 of the most active currencies on the day of the announcement. It was the largest plunge of the franc ever against the euro. The SNB had previously set an exchange rate target in 1978 and maintained it, although at the cost of high inflation.

Coins of the Helvetic Republic

Between 1798 and 1803, billon
Billon (alloy)
Billon is an alloy of a precious metal with a majority base metal content . It is used chiefly for making coins, medals, and token coins.The word comes from the French bille....

 coins were issued in denominations of 1 rappen, ½ batzen, and 1 batzen. Silver coins were issued for 10, 20 and 40 batzen, with the 40 batzen coin also issued with the denomination given as 4 franken. Gold 16 and 32 franc coins were issued in 1800.

Coins of the Swiss Confederation

In 1850, coins were introduced in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, and 20 rappen and ½, 1, 2, and 5 francs, with the 1 and 2 rappen struck in bronze, the 5, 10, and 20 rappen in billon
Billon (alloy)
Billon is an alloy of a precious metal with a majority base metal content . It is used chiefly for making coins, medals, and token coins.The word comes from the French bille....

, and the franc denominations in .900 fine silver. Between 1860 and 1863, .800 fine silver was used, before the standard used in France of .835 fineness was adopted for all silver coins except the 5 francs (which remained .900 fineness) in 1875. In 1879, billon was replaced by cupro-nickel in the 5 and 10 rappen and by nickel in the 20 rappen.

Both world wars only had a small effect on the Swiss coinage, with brass and zinc coins temporarily being issued. In 1931, the size of the 5 franc coin was reduced from 25 grams to 15, with the silver content reduced to .835 fineness. The next year, nickel replaced cupro-nickel in the 5 and 10 rappen.

In the late 1960s, due to their linkage to the devaluing U.S. dollar, the prices of internationally traded commodities rose significantly. A silver coin's material value exceeded its monetary value, and many were being sent abroad for melting, which prompted the federal government
Swiss Federal Council
The Federal Council is the seven-member executive council which constitutes the federal government of Switzerland and serves as the Swiss collective head of state....

 to make this practice illegal. The statute was of little effect, and the melting of francs only subsided when the collectible value of the remaining francs again exceeded their material value.

The 1 rappen coin was still produced until 2006, albeit in ever decreasing quantities, but it did not play any great role in the monetary economy in the fourth quarter of the twentieth century (circa 1975 to 2000). People and groups who could justify the use of 1 rappen coins for monetary purposes could obtain them at face value; any other user (such as collectors) had to pay an additional 4 rappen per coin to cover the production costs, which had exceeded the actual face value of the coin for many years. The coin fell into disuse in the late 1970s and early 1980s but was only officially fully withdrawn from circulation and declared to be no longer legal tender as of 1 January 2007. The long-forgotten 2 rappen coin, not minted since 1974, was demonetized 1 January 1978.
The designs of the coins have changed very little since 1879. Among the notable changes were new designs for the 5 franc coins in 1888, 1922, 1924 (minor) and 1931 (mostly just a size reduction). A new design for the bronze coins was used from 1948. Coins depicting a ring of stars (such as the 1 franc coin seen beside this paragraph) were modified from 22 stars to 23 stars in 1983; since the stars represent the Swiss cantons, it was updated to represent the 1979 expansion of the Swiss federation, when Jura
Canton of Jura
The Republic and Canton of the Jura , also known as the Canton of Jura or Canton Jura, is one of the cantons of Switzerland. It is the newest of the 26 Swiss cantons, located in the northwestern part of Switzerland. The capital is Delémont...

 seceded from the Canton of Bern and became the 23rd canton.
The 10 rappen coins from 1879 onwards (except the years 1918–19 and 1932–39) have had the same composition, size and design until now (2011) and are still legal tender and found in circulation.

All Swiss coins are language-neutral (at least with respect to Switzerland's four national languages), featuring only numerals, the abbreviation "Fr." for franc, and the Latin phrases "Helvetia", "Confœderatio Helvetica" (depending on the denomination) or the inscription "Libertas
Libertas
Libertas was the Roman goddess and embodiment of liberty.- Temples and derived inspirations :In 238 BC, before the Second Punic War, having long been a Roman deity along with other personified virtues, Libertas assumed goddess status...

" (roman goddess of liberty) on the small coins. The name of the artist is present on the coins with the standing Helvetia and the herder.

In addition to these general circulation coins, numerous series of commemorative coins have been issued, as well as silver
Silver
Silver is a metallic chemical element with the chemical symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal...

 and gold coins. These coins are no more legal tender, but can be exchanged for face value at post offices, and at national and cantonal banks. Their material or collector's value equals or exceeds their face value.
Overview of current Swiss coins
Value Diameter
(mm)
Thickness
(mm)
Weight
(g)
Composition Remarks
5 rappen 17.15 1.25 1.8 Aluminium bronze
Aluminium bronze
Aluminium bronze is a type of bronze in which aluminium is the main alloying metal added to copper, in contrast to standard bronze or brass...

Made in Cupronickel
Cupronickel
Cupronickel or copper-nickel or "cupernickel" is an alloy of copper that contains nickel and strengthening elements, such as iron and manganese. Cupronickel is highly resistant to corrosion in seawater, because its electrode potential is adjusted to be neutral with regard to seawater...

 or pure Nickel
Nickel
Nickel is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Ni and atomic number 28. It is a silvery-white lustrous metal with a slight golden tinge. Nickel belongs to the transition metals and is hard and ductile...

 until 1980
10 rappen 19.15 1.45 3 Cupronickel
Cupronickel
Cupronickel or copper-nickel or "cupernickel" is an alloy of copper that contains nickel and strengthening elements, such as iron and manganese. Cupronickel is highly resistant to corrosion in seawater, because its electrode potential is adjusted to be neutral with regard to seawater...

Made in current minting since 1879
20 rappen 21.05 1.65 4 Cupronickel
½ franc
(50 rappen)
18.20 1.25 2.2 Cupronickel In silver
Silver
Silver is a metallic chemical element with the chemical symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal...

 until 1967
1 franc 23.20 1.55 4.4 Cupronickel In silver until 1967
2 francs 27.40 2.15 8.8 Cupronickel In silver until 1967
5 francs 31.45 2.35 13.2 Cupronickel In silver until 1967 and in 1969, 25g weight until 1930

Banknotes

In 1907, the Swiss National Bank
Swiss National Bank
The Swiss National Bank is the central bank of Switzerland. It is responsible for Swiss monetary policy and for issuing Swiss franc banknotes.The names of the institution in the four official languages of the country are: ; ; ; ....

 took over the issuance of banknotes from the cantons and various banks. It introduced denominations of 50, 100, 500 and 1000 francs. 20 franc notes were introduced in 1911, followed by 5 franc notes in 1913. In 1914, the Federal Treasury issued paper money in denominations of 5, 10 and 20 francs. These notes were issued in three different versions: French, German and Italian. The State Loan Bank also issued 25 franc notes that year. In 1952, the National Bank ceased issuing 5 franc notes but introduced 10 franc notes in 1955. In 1996, 200 franc notes were introduced whilst the 500 franc note was discontinued.

Eight series of banknotes have been printed by the National Bank, six of which have been released for use by the general public. The sixth series from 1976, designed by Ernst and Ursula Hiestand, depicted persons from the world of science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

.
It has been recalled and replaced and will lose any value on 1 May 2020. As of 2010, a large number of notes from this series have not yet been exchanged, even though they have not been legal tender for more than 10 years; for example, the value of those 500 franc banknotes still in circulation represents 129.9 million Swiss francs.

The seventh series was printed in 1984, but kept as a "reserve series", ready to be used if, for example, wide counterfeiting of the current series suddenly happened. When the Swiss National Bank decided to develop new security features and to abandon the concept of a reserve series, the details of the seventh series were released and the printed notes were destroyed.

The current, eighth series of banknotes was designed by Jörg Zintzmeyer around the theme of the arts and released starting in 1995. In addition to a new design, this series was different from the previous one on several counts. Probably the most important difference from a practical point of view was that the seldom-used 500 franc note was replaced by a new 200 franc note; this new note has indeed proved more successful than the old 500 franc note. The base colours of the new notes were kept similar to the old ones, except that the 20 franc note was changed from blue to red to prevent a frequent confusion with the 100 franc note, and that the 10 franc note was changed from red to yellow. The size of the notes was changed as well, with all notes from the 8th series having the same height (74 mm), while the widths were changed as well, still increasing with the value of the notes. The new series contains many more security features than the previous one; many (but not all) of them are now visibly displayed and have been widely advertised, in contrast with the previous series for which most of the features were kept secret.
8th (current) series of Swiss banknotes
Image Value Dimensions Main Colour Obverse Date of issue Remarks
Obverse Reverse
10 francs 126 × 74 mm Yellow Le Corbusier
Le Corbusier
Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, better known as Le Corbusier , was a Swiss-born French architect, designer, urbanist, writer and painter, famous for being one of the pioneers of what now is called modern architecture. He was born in Switzerland and became a French citizen in 1930...

8 April 1997
20 francs 137 × 74 mm Red Arthur Honegger
Arthur Honegger
Arthur Honegger was a Swiss composer, who was born in France and lived a large part of his life in Paris. He was a member of Les six. His most frequently performed work is probably the orchestral work Pacific 231, which is interpreted as imitating the sound of a steam locomotive.-Biography:Born...

1 October 1996
50 francs 148 × 74 mm Green Sophie Taeuber-Arp
Sophie Taeuber-Arp
Sophie Taeuber-Arp was a Swiss artist, painter and sculptor. Born in Davos, Switzerland, Sophie Täuber began her art studies in her homeland, at the School of Applied Arts in St. Gallen...

3 October 1995
100 francs 159 × 74 mm Blue Alberto Giacometti
Alberto Giacometti
Alberto Giacometti was a Swiss sculptor, painter, draughtsman, and printmaker.Alberto Giacometti was born in the canton Graubünden's southerly alpine valley Val Bregaglia and came from an artistic background; his father, Giovanni, was a well-known post-Impressionist painter...

1 October 1998
200 francs 170 × 74 mm Brown Charles Ferdinand Ramuz
Charles Ferdinand Ramuz
Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz was a French-speaking Swiss writer.He was born in Lausanne in the canton of Vaud and educated at the University of Lausanne. He taught briefly in nearby Aubonne, and then in Weimar, Germany. In 1903, he left for Paris and remained there until World War I, with frequent...

1 October 1997 Replaces the 500 francs
banknote in the previous series
1000 francs 181 × 74 mm Purple Jacob Burckhardt
Jacob Burckhardt
Carl Jacob Christoph Burckhardt was a historian of art and culture, and an influential figure in the historiography of each field. He is known as one of the major progenitors of cultural history, albeit in a form very different from how cultural history is conceived and studied in academia today...

1 April 1998


All banknotes are quadrilingual, displaying all information in the four national languages. The banknotes depicting a Germanophone person have German and Romansch on the same side as the picture, whereas banknotes depicting a Francophone or an Italophone person have French and Italian on the same side as the picture. The reverse has the other two languages.

When the 5th series lost its validity at the end of April 2000, the banknotes that had not been exchanged represented a total value of 244.3 million Swiss francs; in accordance with Swiss law, this amount was transferred to the Swiss Fund for Emergency Losses in the case of non-insurable natural disasters.

In February 2005, a competition was announced for the design of the 9th series, planned to be released around 2010 on the theme Switzerland open to the world. The results were announced in November 2005, but the selected design drew widespread criticisms from the population.

Circulation

As of March 2010, the total value of released Swiss coins and banknotes was 49,664.0 million Swiss francs.
Value of Swiss coins and banknotes in circulation as of March 2010 (in millions of CHF)
Coins 10 francs 20 francs 50 francs 100 francs 200 francs 500 francs 1000 francs Total
2695.4 656.7 1416.7 1963.0 8337.4 6828.0 129.9 27,637.1 49,664.0

Combinations of up to 100 usual Swiss coins (not including special or commemorative coins) are legal tender; banknotes are legal tender
Legal tender
Legal tender is a medium of payment allowed by law or recognized by a legal system to be valid for meeting a financial obligation. Paper currency is a common form of legal tender in many countries....

 for any amount.

Reserve currency

The Swiss Franc
Swiss franc
The franc is the currency and legal tender of Switzerland and Liechtenstein; it is also legal tender in the Italian exclave Campione d'Italia. Although not formally legal tender in the German exclave Büsingen , it is in wide daily use there...

 is used as a reserve currency
Reserve currency
A reserve currency, or anchor currency, is a currency that is held in significant quantities by many governments and institutions as part of their foreign exchange reserves...

 around the world and is currently ranked rarely 5th or 6th in value held as reserves after the US Dollar, the euro
Euro
The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...

, the Japanese Yen
Japanese yen
The is the official currency of Japan. It is the third most traded currency in the foreign exchange market after the United States dollar and the euro. It is also widely used as a reserve currency after the U.S. dollar, the euro and the pound sterling...

 and the pound sterling
Pound sterling
The pound sterling , commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence...

.

See also

  • Banking in Switzerland
    Banking in Switzerland
    All banks in Switzerland are regulated by Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority , which derives its authority from a series of federal statutes...

  • Economy of Switzerland
    Economy of Switzerland
    The economy of Switzerland is one of the world's most stable economies. Its policy of long-term monetary security and political stability has made Switzerland a safe haven for investors, creating an economy that is increasingly dependent on a steady tide of foreign investment...

  • Hard currency
    Hard currency
    Hard currency , in economics, refers to a globally traded currency that is expected to serve as a reliable and stable store of value...

  • Iraqi Swiss dinar - A common name for the old Iraq
    Iraq
    Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

    i currency but not related to Swiss currency.
  • Liechtenstein frank
    Liechtenstein frank
    The Swiss Frank has been the currency of Liechtenstein since 1920. The Swiss franc is legal tender since Liechtenstein is in a customs and monetary union with Switzerland...


External links

CashFollow.ch, Swiss Franc Tracker Schweizer-Franken.ch, Information about the Swiss Franc
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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