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Money & Politics: Four Million 5 Rappen Coins Purchased for Exhibition about Money

by Charles Morgan for CoinWeek…


Money & Politics

In what could best be described as a costly political stunt, activists from Generation Basic Income, a group lobbying in favor of universal basic income in Switzerland, dumped eight million five-rappen (five-cent) coins in historic Parliament Square in Bern last December. The goal of their campaign was to raise the Swiss minimum wage to 22 Swiss francs (approximately $25) an hour. In May of this year, voters roundly rejected the proposal after the Swiss Federal Council warned that it would hurt the very workers it was meant to protect.

Despite the disappointing loss, Generation Basic Income still had its work to do- the group had to find a way to rid itself of 31,700+ pounds of Swiss small change. The publicity surrounding the stunt generated interest in the coins, but no buyers.

That is, until Sunday of last week, when officials at Stapferhaus Lenzburg, a community and issue-focused organization based in Aargau, stepped up to purchase four million of the coins at a cost of 200,000 Swiss francs ($207,000).

The coins will be used as part of a year-long exhibit entitled “Money- beyond good and evil”, which opens November 15. Organizers of the exhibition say the idea is to participate in the age-old debate: “What is money worth to us and what is the price we are willing to pay for it?”

For four million five-rappen coins, the price Stapferhaus Lenzburg was willing to pay was the sum of the number stamped on four million copper coins.


Charles Morgan
Charles Morgan
Charles Morgan is an award-winning numismatic author and the editor and publisher of CoinWeek.com. Along with co-author Hubert Walker, he has written for CoinWeek since 2012, as well as the "Market Whimsy" column for The Numismatist and the book 100 Greatest Modern World Coins (2020) for Whitman Publishing. From 2021-2023, Charles served as Governor of the American Numismatic Association (ANA), where he was bestowed the Glenn Smedley Award. Charles is a member of numerous numismatic organizations, including the American Numismatic Society (ANS) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG).

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