Last week, Switzerland’s federal mint, Swissmint, continued its three-part Swiss steamships series, which began last year, with a commemorative silver coin honouring the steamship La Suisse.
When La Suisse was commissioned by the Sulzer brothers in 1908, the “Belle Époque” euphoria in Switzerland had just peaked. The La Suisse paddle-wheel steamship was to become the largest and most elegant of all Swiss steamships. With a capacity for 850 passengers, it measured 78.5 metres long and 15.9 metres wide and was powered by a sloping, 1,400 horsepower two-cylinder hot steam composite engine from Sulzer.
Over the years, the steamboat has undergone a number of technical and structural changes. In 1960, the ship transitioned from heating with coal to heavy fuel oil, and changes were made to the curved decks on the main and upper decks. In 1971, a new, cost-saving large boiler, wheelhouse and side entrance to the saloon were installed.
- Alloy: 0.835 per cent silver
- Weight: 20 grams
- Diameter: 33 millimetres
- Denomination: 20 Swiss francs
- Mintage: 30,000 Uncirculated coins and 5,000 Proof coins
In 1999, the ship’s heating operation was again changed, this time from heavy fuel oil to light oil. In 2003, the electrical infrastructure was partially refurbished. La Suisse was extensively renovated between 2007 and 2009. Since then, it has been navigating the “Haut-lac” part of Lake Geneva from Vevey to Thonon.
The steamboat, which had already received an award as a cultural monument of national importance, was also declared to be a historical monument by the canton of Vaud in 2011.
The design for the 20-franc silver coin, which was issued April 26, was produced naval painter Ueli Colombi, who also designed the Uri steamship silver coin last year.
The new commemorative coin is available at swissmintshop.ch.