Switzerland: Klausen Pass commemorative silver coin begins new Alpine Pass series

Background photo by Roland Zumbühl.

The Swiss Federal Mint have launched (25th January) a new commemorative coin which is part of a new three-year series of coins which focuses on Swiss Alpine passes. The first coin features the Klausen Pass, which is 1,948 metres high (6,400 feet) and 46 kilometres long (40 miles), and links the valley of Schächental in the canton (member state) of Uri with the rear of Linthal in the canton of Glarus. As a non-transalpine route, the Klausen pass was of no significance during Roman times nor the Middle Ages (but no later than the High Middle Ages), as it was a simple cattle-track which was mostly used for moving cattle to the Alpine pastures on the Urnerboden. A customs post in Bürglen monitored the insignificant local trade, and, following Alpine disputes concerning the border between Uri and Glarus on the Urnerboden, an agreement of access was reached in the 12th century.

Fast forward to the end of the 19th century when commercial interest in a road over the Klausen Pass grew with the opening of the Gotthard railway line in 1882 because the new north-south route was reliant on link-roads. After the project received the armyʹs support, it was quickly built between 1893 and 1899 with the big opening day recognised on the 15th June 1900, when the first stagecoach drove over the mountain pass and introduced the magnificent landscape between Linthal and Altdorf to tourism. The Klausen Pass gained wider fame from the legendary Klausen Race, a historic mountain race for cars and motorcycles which was held between 1922 and 1934. This race was, by far, the best-known and most difficult mountain race of its time and no other mountain route could match the level of fascination expressed by its spectators and racing drivers alike. With its 21.5 kilometre-long (13 mile) gravel road, which ran from Linthal to the Klausen Pass, the course encompassed no less than 136 corners as well as a total climb of 1,237 metres (4,050 feet). Every year between 1922 and 1934, the world’s best racing drivers pitted themselves against each other and the elements. While embracing an obsession with speed, they chased and hurled themselves over the Urnerboden in their fire-spitting Grand Prix racing cars which managed to accelerate to 200 kilometres per hour (124 miles per hour). These amazing motors roared and hissed all the way into the wild gorge up to the finishing line at the foot of the 3,267 metre-high (10,710 Feet) Clariden Mountain.

Hover to zoom.

The coin is designed by Vito Noto from Cadro, who has depicted an impressive racing auto on the obverse side of the commemorative coin. The 1927 Amilcar CGSS Duval Sportscar was a two-seater sedan built by a company in Paris set up by two engineers named Edmond Moyet and André Morel and financed by Emil Akar and Joseph Lamy. The name “Amilcar” was said to derive from the names Akar and Lamy. In the background is the topography of the Klausen Pass with the text KLAUSENPASS placed towards the lower left along the edge.

The reverse side includes the text CONFOEDERATIO HELVETICA and the year of issue along with the coin’s denomination on a simple and clear field in a half-circular pattern.

Denom.

Metal

Weight Diameter Quality

Maximum Mintage

20 francs

.835 Silver

20 g 33 mm Brilliant Unc.

30,000

20 francs

.835 Silver

20 g 33 mm Proof

5,000




The 20-franc coin is available in Proof quality and is encapsulated and presented in a custom Swiss Federal Mint-branded case along with a certificate of authenticity. The Brilliant Uncirculated versions are available in both a blister-pak (29,000 pieces) and a colourful folder (1,000 pieces) with illustrations and information about the history of the Klausen Pass. For additional information on these and other coins available from the Swiss Federal Mint, please visit their website.

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