Swiss silver coins

Coins have been produced in Switzerland for hundreds of years. In the Middle Ages, the respective sovereign was granted the right to mint coins by the king or emperor, as were the sovereigns in what is now Switzerland. The Frauenmünster (women's monastery) in Zurich, for example, obtained the right to mint coins in the middle of the 11th century.

Cantonal coins

From the 16th century onwards, the cantons minted their own coins made of different metals and in different qualities. In addition, due to the international movement of goods over the Alpine passes, coins from other sovereign territories, especially from the Holy Roman Empire, were also in use.

The first genuine Swiss coins

The history of real Swiss silver coins began with the creation of the federal state of Switzerland in 1848. Before that time, the right to mint coins was held by the cantons, which is why there were no real Swiss coins, but rather coins from Berne, Zurich, Schwyz, etc. The first real Swiss coins were minted by the federal government in 1850.

From 1850, the federal state minted the first coins based on French francs. Today, these coins are traded far above their metal value and can therefore not be bought and sold on PreMeSec.

Various Swiss silver coins © PreMeSec GmbH
Various Swiss silver coins © PreMeSec GmbH

Latin Monetary Union

Under the leadership of France, France, Switzerland, Belgium and Italy founded the Latin Coinage Union in 1865. The member states agreed on a uniform currency system. Since at that time the value of the currency was contained in the coins as metal, the coins could be traded 1:1. Nevertheless, each country kept its own currency and its own coins; paper money was not used by these states at the beginning.

This standardisation gave a boost to global trade and also to the then still young Alpine tourism. Goods and services could now be traded internationally without complicated currency conversion and exchange rate losses. In the following years, these advantages led to other nations like Greece officially joining or unofficially joining like Austria with new coins (guilder) and Russia (gold ruble).

A monetary unit (franc, franc, lire) was defined as 4.5 grams of silver. The 1 franc/franc/lira pieces, however, were set at the weight of 4.175 grams and 2 franc coins at 8.35 grams of silver. This meant that the value of the coin was not fully covered by the precious metal, i.e. it was a divisional coin. On the contrary, the more valuable coins such as 5 francs of silver, 10 francs and 20 francs of gold were covered by the precious metal value, which made them curant coins.

End of the Latin Coinage Union until the last silver coins were put out of circulation

The Latin Monetary Union began to crumble during the First World War, when the states sought to finance their expenditures by devaluing the currency. It finally broke up in 1926 when Belgium left.

Since Switzerland also depreciated the currencies of the other states from 1927 onwards and the Latin Monetary Union no longer existed, the value of a coin no longer had to be covered by the precious metal. For this reason, the 5 franc coin was reduced in size and weight in 1931. The ½, 1 and 2 franc coins, however, were produced unchanged until 1967 and were only taken out of circulation in 1971.

Inexpensive Swiss silver coins

The last series of Swiss silver coins still have no special numismatic value today, which means collectors pay no or only a small price premium on the silver value of these coins, they were produced too often for that and are still preserved in too large numbers. Therefore, these coins can be bought relatively close to the silver price. The coins in question are as follows:

CoinProduction periodFine silver content
5 Swiss francs1931 - 1967/69 12,525 g
2 Swiss francs1874 - 19678,35 g
1 Swiss franc1875 - 19674,175 g
½ Swiss franc2,0875 g

Buy Swiss silver coins

As Swiss silver coins are subject to VAT, it is better to buy them from private sellers. However, there are also precious metal dealers who sell these coins in larger quantities.

Selling Swiss silver coins

The trading margin for silver is very high, so it is advisable not to sell these coins at a precious metal dealer, where you only get the melting price, but to find a private buyer for them. The PreMeSec offer is particularly suitable for this purpose.

Register now and sell silver coins!


Why do I pay VAT on Swiss silver coins in the trade?

Since Swiss silver coins are no longer means of payment and are traded close to the silver price, they have the character of a commodity. That is why these coins are also subject to VAT under Swiss VAT law.

Why do scrap gold buyers only pay the melting price for old silver coins?

The silver price on the stock exchange is paid for fine silver, but coins, silver jewellery and silver cutlery are an alloy. To produce fine silver from it, it has to be melted down. If you deduct the cost of melting down and producing fine silver from the silver exchange price, you get the melting price. It is therefore worthwhile to find a collector or investor for silver coins, as this makes melting down unnecessary and higher prices can be achieved.

Why buy Swiss silver coins ?

If you want to buy silver coins, you can also use the common bullion coins such as the Maple Leaf, Vienna Philharmonic or the Krugerrand. Today, these coins are produced specifically for collectors and investors. However, the surcharges for these coins are usually higher than for old Swiss silver coins.


  • Swiss silver coins were not produced until the creation of the Swiss Confederation.

  • The silver coins, which were still in circulation until the 1960s, are close to the silver price.

  • High collector's premiums are sometimes paid for coins from the nineteenth century.

  • Silver coins are subject to VAT in specialist shops, but not when sold privately.