By The Federal Mint Swissmint ……
On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the death of cutlery pioneer Karl Elsener, the Swiss Federal Mint Swissmint has launched the “Swiss Army Knife” commemorative silver coin. With this new coin–as well as the 2018 Christmas coin set–the Swissmint has settled this year’s numismatic program.
In the 19th century, Switzerland was one of the poorest states in Europe, and high unemployment forced many Swiss to emigrate. The creation of new jobs was therefore more than welcome. With this intention, in 1884 Karl Elsener (1860-1918) founded a cutlery workshop in Ibach.
He learned the craft during his apprenticeship in Zug and his journeyman’s time in both France and southern Germany. Karl Elsener had the idea of making soldier’s knives in Switzerland instead of Germany. But his operation was too small to get an army job. Therefore, he founded the 1891 Swiss Knifesmith Association with the aim of selling the soldier’s knife for the Army together with other domestic cutlers. The first delivery took place that same year, never dreaming that his business would become a world-famous company would.
The soldier’s knife was very robust, but also relatively heavy. That’s why Karl Elsener created a lighter and above all more elegant knife with even more features for the officers. He called this new pocket-knife model the “officer’s dog sports knife”. Unlike the soldier’s knife, the officer’s knife did not become an official piece of equipment for the army. Elsener’s success did not detract from this. The “Swiss Army Knife”, as the officer’s knife was called for export, went on its triumphal march around the globe after the conclusion of World War II. U.S. soldiers stationed in Europe bought it in large quantities and took them back home as a popular gift. The establishment of the Swiss army knife on the souvenir market since the 1970s–as well as the high value of the products in terms of quality, functionality, innovation and iconic design–helped the company Victorinox achieve worldwide fame.
Victorinox AG is today managed by the Elsener family in the fourth generation.
On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Karl Elsener’s death, Swissmint dedicates a 20-franc silver coin to his most famous creation. Artist Nadja Baltensweiler created the design.
Simultaneously with the special coin “Swiss Army Knife”, the last issue of the year appears: the Christmas coin set 2018, featuring a medal with a Christmas angel blowing a trumpet. Designer Jenny Leibundgut of Berne is responsible for the artwork.
The new limited-edition special designs have been available since September 10 at www.swissmintshop.ch.
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About The Federal Mint Swissmint
The Federal Mint Swissmint is responsible for circulating coinage in Switzerland. The Mint also produces special coins and packages for the numismatic market. They also produce bimetallic coins, along with coins in silver and gold. Swissmint is also the official authority in Switzerland for authentication and provides experts for public and private clients.