The Federal Swiss Mint have issued (4th May) a new silver coin that pays tribute to one of Switzerland’s most endearing national treasures, the Uri steamboat. The Uri is Switzerland’s oldest paddle steamer and the oldest ship in the Schiffahrtsgesellschaft des Vierwaldstattersees (SGV) company’s fleet, having embarked on its maiden voyage in 1901. What could be more pleasant than a trip on the legendary Uri on a warm summer’s day? With the wind in your hair, and the constant, soothing reverberations of the engines and splashing of the paddles in your ears, you can feast your eyes on the picturesque—and in places, wild and untamed—shores of Lake Lucerne.
The ship can take 800 passengers and offers both first- and second-class accommodation. The Uri is a classic example of a Sulzer paddle steamer, many of which were manufactured around the beginning of the 20th century. They boast excellent handling in the water, stability in rough weather, and fuel economy. The Uri is powered by an inclined 650 HP Sulzer two-cylinder condensing compound steam engine.
Over the years, the Uri underwent various upgrades and repairs, and had its share of minor incidents. In 1949 it was converted to burn heavy oil instead of coal; then, between 1960 and 1961, it had a protective roof installed as well as a retractable wheelhouse and a telescopic chimney and masts, enabling it to pass under the Acheregg motorway bridge in Stansstad. When the ship was completely refurbished between 1991 and 1994, these alterations were reversed and the resplendent neo-Baroque, first-class salon designed by Filippo Cassina of Milan was restored to its former glory. The furniture and richly decorated ceilings were completely reconstructed, while the bow decoration had already been replaced with the Uri bull emblem in 1981 after being damaged in an accident.
The obverse of the silver coin was designed by the naval painter Ueli Colombi from Sigriswil and depicts the Uri in all its splendour as it sails down the river. The insignia of the Uri is placed to the upper left of the main design, with DS URI (in two lines) below the design. At lower left in small letters is the designer’s name, U. COLOMBI.
The reverse includes the text CONFOEDERATIO HELVETICA and the year of issue along with the coin’s denomination on a simple and clear field.
|20 francs||.835 silver||20 g||33 mm||Uncirculated||28,000|
|20 francs||.835 silver||20 g||33 mm||Brilliant Unc.||2,000|
|20 francs||.835 silver||20 g||33 mm||Proof||4,800|
In honour of this floating monument, the Swiss Federal Mint has chosen the Uri to grace the first coin in its three-part “Swiss Steamboats” series. The Brilliant Uncirculated examples are packaged in a colourfully printed blister-pack folder, while the Proof examples are presented in a hardboard case with certificate of authenticity. Two hundred Proof-quality coins are also available with a COA signed by the coin’s designer. Please visit the website of the Swiss Federal Mint for more information on this and other coins the mint offers.
Additional information for arranging travel on the Uri is available at http://www.lakelucerne.ch/en/timetable-fares/timetable/. ❑