Artist Benno K. Zehnder designed the coin and portrays the cog railway on the Rigi in the form of a playing card. Separated by letters ascending to the right is a modern railway engine and under the "Vitznau-Rigi Railway" heading is a historical steam engine.
9 June 2008
Swiss Silver Commemorative Coin "Vitznau-Rigi Railway" Starts New Series
Bern Switzerland - The Swiss Federal Mint has launched a new several year commemorative coin series celebrating historical mountain railways. The first commemorative out of the gate is the 20 Swiss franc silver coin, the "Vitznau-Rigi Railway", honoring Europe's first mountain railway.
"I want to take everybody up onto the mountains so that they can enjoy the magnificence of our grand country!" So said mountain railway pioneer Niklaus Riggenbach in 1863.
This was the year he patented his invention in France allowing the operation of trains on steep gradients using a rack and pinion system.
Six years later, the Grosse Rat (Big Council) of the Canton of Lucerne granted him the concession to construct a cog railway on the Rigi. On 21 May 1871, Niklaus Riggenbach's birthday, the first mountain railway in Europe was officially opened.
Also according to the Swiss Mint site, the Vitznau-Rigi Railway was an instant success. In 1992, it merged with its long-time rival, the Arth-Rigi Railway founded in 1875, to form the present-day Rigi Bahnen AG. It also owns the Weggis-Rigi Kaltbad panoramic aerial cableway opened in 1968.
About the Swiss Federal Mint
The Federal Mint is an independent unit of the Federal Finance Administration. Its origins go back to 1848, when with the founding of the federal state, the prerogative of coinage passed from the Cantons to the Confederation.
The Swiss Mint's most important responsibility is to strike Swiss coins for circulation. For the numismatic market, they also regularly issues coins of special quality, both for circulation, and as special qualities.