World Coins

Swiss gold 10-franc targets legendary William Tell

The legendary William Tell features on a new gold 10-franc coin from Switzerland.

Images courtesy of Swissmint.

William Tell is a legendary figure in Swiss folklore, known today for his exploits as a marksman with bow and arrow, reportedly shooting an apple off the top of his son’s head.

A new .900 fine gold coin from Switzerland celebrates the famous Swiss national hero.

The work of Tell is mentioned for the first time in the White Book of Sarnen, a chartulary compiled around 1470 by the civic recorder Hans Schriber from Obwalden. 

In addition, the figure of Tell crops up at the time of the Burgundian Wars, in a song about the origin of the Confederation (“Song of Tell” of 1477). 

In 1507, his story was recorded in the Chronicle of the City of Lucerne by Melchior Russ and Petermann Etterlin and printed for the first time. It also found its way into the Swiss Chronicles written by Heinrich Brennwald of Zurich between 1508 and 1516. 

Around 1570, chronicler Aegidius Tschudi condensed the various handed-down oral and written versions of Tell’s narrative into a saga that he dated 1307. Popular theater performances in Central Switzerland also helped spread the Tell legend. 

Dramatization of the Tell legend by Friedrich Schiller (the premiere was in 1804) made the story well known initially in Europe and later on worldwide. Schiller drew extensively on the chronicle of Aegidius Tschudi. Schiller’s play is the basis for the great opera Guillaume Tell by Gioachino Rossini. Early depictions showed Tell in different costumes depending on the spirit of the time. 

Tell as we imagine him today, i.e. in a herdsman’s cowl and with a beard, was influenced by the Tell monument by the sculptor Richard Kissling (1895) in Altdorf and by the famous Tell painting by Ferdinand Hodler dated 1897.

In memory of this famous Swiss figure, Swissmint has issued a 50-franc gold coin designed by Angelo Boog.

The coin shows what may be a statue of Tell, right hand raised and left hand holding a crossbow.

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The reverse carries the nation and year of issue, as well as the denomination.

The .900 fine gold coin is denominated 10 Swiss francs. The coin weighs 11.29 grams and measures 25 millimeters in diameter.

A total of 4,500 Proof examples are available.

To order, visit the Swissmint website

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