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Sunday, 30 April 2017

491) Alpine Edelweiss: “Flora Alpina” Series: The first coin in the Series issued by the Federal Mint Swissmint in January 2016, features the iconic Edelweiss, the National Flower of Switzerland:

491) Alpine Edelweiss: “Flora Alpina” Series: The first coin in the Series issued by the Federal Mint Swissmint in January 2016, features the iconic Edelweiss, the National Flower of Switzerland:

Every year, the Federal Mint Swissmint issues a small number of commemorative coins featuring some carefully selected themes/subjects. The coins minted in bimetal, silver and gold qualities bear an official nominal value, but are offered as Collector’s pieces. 

  This 2016 Switzerland 10 Franc Bimetallic coin, is the first coin in the “Flora Alpina” three Coin Series, issued on 20.01.2016 and features the “Alpen Edelweiss” or “Alpine Edelweiss” (Leontopodium alpinum), which is the National Flower of Switzerland.

About the Edelweiss flower:

 The word “Edel” stands for “noble” (in English), while “Weiss” means “white” (in English). The other two themes included in this 3 coin Alpine Flower Series are gentian and silver thistle.

The Edelweiss commonly grows in the Alpine regions of Switzerland in rocky limestone surfaces at altitudes of 5,900 to 9,800 feet. The nontoxic plant is used in regional folk medicine as a remedy against several health related issues including respiratory and abdominal maladies.

The Edelweiss, the Alpine symbol par excellence, has achieved cult status. The plant’s white flowers have long symbolised desire, honesty, courage, purity and beauty.

Due to excessive picking, however, the flower was almost completely wiped out to the point that presently it is found mostly in areas which are difficult to access. It is believed that finding an Edelweiss in the wild is a rare stroke of luck. It is more commonly seen in tourism advertisements and on fashion items or souvenirs.

The star shaped part with fuzzy white petals (bracts) which is generally considered to be the flower is in actual fact not the flower, but a pseudanthium (A pseudanthium stands for “false flower” in Greek, or the flower head is a special type of inflorescence, in which anything from a small cluster to hundreds or sometimes thousands of flowers are grouped together to form a single flower like structure). The actual inflorescence in the Edelweiss in the centre is rather inconspicuous and consists of 2 to 12 similar cup shaped flower heads with 60 to 80 pale yellow florets each. This hardy and herbaceous plant can grow to between 5 and 20 cm in height.

The leaves and blooms on the plant are covered in white hairs, giving a woolly appearance. Each bloom, in turn, consists of five or six small yellow spiked florets. These yellow clusters are surrounded by white petals that spread out from the central bloom in a double-star formation.

The Edelweiss is a protected species in Switzerland and is a cultural symbol of the Alpine Region and of the people who live in it. It has been widely referenced in Alpine culture and finds a mention in several books, articles, movies and television programmes that take place in the Alps.

The Edelweiss Flower became a worldwide recognised bloom when it got a mention in a song which appeared in the 1965 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “The Sound of Music”, the story line, set in the Swiss alps, features a young woman Maria (played by Julie Andrews) who becomes a governess for a widower Captain Von Trapp (played by Christopher Plummer) and his seven children during the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938.

The Commemorative Coin featuring the “Alpen Edelweiss” (or the “Edelweiss Flower”):

         The Reverse of the  Swiss 10 Franc bimetallic Coin
The Reverse of the bimetallic 10 Franc Coin features two Edelweiss blooms. A flower on the left side of the coin highlights the appearance of the flower as seen from its side, while a second bloom is seen more prominently to its right and shows the full face of the flower. The petals of both the flowers which originate from the stalks that figure centrally in the coin’s cupronickel core, spill over into the outer Aluminium Bronze ring of the bimetallic coin.

Along the lower periphery of the coin on the outer ring is mentioned “FLORA ALPINA” (the name of the three coin Series which translates into “Alpine Flower”). Towards the right periphery is the inscription “LEIBUNDGUT” (standing for the name of the Coin’s Engraver: Jenny Leibundgut).

         The Obverse of the  Swiss 10 Franc bimetallic Coin
The Obverse of the bimetallic 10 Franc Coin features a clean face, dominated by inscriptions “CONFOEDERATIO HELVETICA” (meaning “Confederation Helvetica” or “Helvetic Confederation” which is Switzerland’s official name) which is displayed across two lines of curved text, with “CONFOEDERATIO” appearing on the centre to upper periphery of the outer ring and “HELVETICA” appearing on the upper edge of the centre-piece. Just below the “H” of Helvetica are the iconic Swiss Cross and the denominational value of the coin in numerals “10”, below which is the mint mark of the Bern Mint “B”. On the outer ring is mentioned “FR” which references the coin’s Franc denomination. To its right towards the right periphery is the year of issue “2016”.

The specifications of this coin are:

Country of issue: Switzerland; Year: 2016; Denominational value: 10 Franken (or 10 Franc); Mint Mark: “B” (Bern); Coin Quality: Uncirculated and Proof;  Mintage: 30,000 (Uncirculated pieces) and 6,000 Proof pieces); Metallic Composition/Alloy: Bi-metallic: Outer Ring: Aluminium Bronze: 92% Copper, 6% Aluminium, 2% Nickel; Centre piece: Copper-Nickel: 75% Copper, 25% Nickel; Weight: 15.0 grams; Diameter/Size: 33.0 mm; Thickness: 2.5 mm; Shape: Round; Edge: Milled; Orientation: Medal Alignment. Issuing Mint: Federal Mint Swissmint. Coin’s Engraver: Jenny Leibundgut.

Links to posts on the "Flora Alpina" Series:

1) Alpine Edelweiss: "Flora Alpina" Series: The first coin in the Series issued in January 2016

2) Alpine Gentian: "Flora Alpine" Series: The Second Coin in the Series issued in January 2017 

3) Alpine Carline Thistle: Third and final coin in the Series issued on 25.01.2018

Other posts on Swiss Banknotes:

1) A 10 Franc Banknote honouring Charles Edourd Jaenneret popularly known as Le Corbusier who designed the Modern Indian city of Chandigarh


  1. Vikram Bhatnagar has commented:
    "Rajeev, you could go teach them Europeans a lot about their history and traditions along with the "raison de etre!" Beautiful write up!"

    1. Thanks Vikram. Really touching comment. Much appreciate.

  2. Vishnu Chandra Bajpai has commented:
    "Nice write-up. Edelweiss figured in a soulful song in Sound of Music,my all time favourite film.I in fact took a Sound of Music to Swiss Austrian Alps where these flowers bloom gloriously."

    1. Thank you, sir. Indeed a memorable trip.