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1951 B 5 Silver Swiss Francs (William Tell)

Item Notes
Type: 5 Silver Swiss Francs (William Tell) 
Years: 1931 - 1969  Cat. Num.: KM# 40 
Country: Switzerland  Period: Confederation 
Currency: Swiss Franc  Face value: 5 Francs 
System: Decimal  100 Rappen (Centimes) = 1 Franc 
Obverse: William Tell right 
Reverse: Shield flanked by springs  
Legend: 5FR. 
Edge: Relief lettering 
Purpose: Circulation 
1951 B
Mint: Bern 
Mintage: 1,096,000 
Grades & Prices Available
(VF+) Sold
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Composition: Silver 
Fineness: 0.8350 
Content: 12.53g
  (0.40 Oz)
Bullion Value: $9.34 
Total Weight: 15.0000g 
  (0.48 Oz)
Diameter: 31.50mm 

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, 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 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 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.

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