Tag Archives: ww1

Switzerland: 2 franc 1981

Switzerland is probably one of the countries that have kept the same coin design the longest. The ½, 1 and 2 franc coins have had the same design since 1875. In 1968 they switched from being in silver to copper-nickel. I like it when coin series is changed once in a while (I’m for instance totally bored with the current Swedish coins), but I can understand why they have kept the current design for all these years. It’s a traditional design with enough of things going on to keep you interested. The text HELVETIA might be cryptic, but it’s just the Latin name of Switzerland. The woman, who looks like a goddess, is Helvetia herself, the personification of the county – similar to Britannica, Marianne or Mother Svea. You can also spot the Swizz cross on her shield. This cross is featured on the country’s flag and it’s also the base of the Red Cross which was founded in Switzerland.

Switzerland is generally considered to be a country of peace. “I’m neutral! I’m Switzerland!” is quite a common saying and rightly so. The Swizz managed to keep their neutrality even though they were completely surrounded by war during WWI and WWII. Switzerland hasn’t been in an armed conflict with another country since 1815 and that’s wonderful.

But there is actually one country that surpasses that. The last time Sweden was at war with another country was in 1814 when the country tried to force Norway into a union (with a successful outcome). Since then Sweden has kept its neutrality, but this can of course be discussed. Many people clam the neutrality during WWII to just be a charade. And in these days Sweden has peace preserving troops in overseas territories (such as in Afghanistan). Can one really claim that Sweden hasn’t been to war since 1814?

Whatever the case might be, Switzerland and Sweden is two countries that has a long history of peace and I think that this is something that has had a huge positive influence on the countries.

Now if only people stopped getting the two countries mixed up…

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Russia: 50 kopek 1899 + Bonus

Nikolaj II Romanov was the emperor (czar) of Russia between 1894 and 1917, during the last period of the Russian Empire. Nikolaj was the father of the Grand Duchess Anastasia, who according to legend would have survived the execution on her family, but this has been disproven.

This is a beautiful silver coin with the czar himself and the towheaded eagle – a symbol of the Russian Empire. Post-USSR the eagle is once again used as a symbol of Russia but now without the crowns, the spire and the globus cruciger. Nikolaj looks very secure on the coin, there’s and aura about him that radiates “good leader”. In 1899 this may have been the way that the world saw him as well. But that would change. Nikolaj were to be the last czar. He would bring the Russian Empire to its end.

First of all I need to mention the war with Japan (1904-1905). The war mainly concerned the region of Manchuria (present day China and Russia) and the Russians thought that it would be an easy victory against the undeveloped Asians. However Japan was developed – a result of major economic changes during the 19th century. Japan won and marked the first victory of an “undeveloped” country against one of Europe’s superpowers. Russia’s prestige was diminished and so was Nikolaj’s.

Internal problems continued in Russia. The population mainly consisted of farmers, people who lived tough lives with little help from the ruling classes. Tension continued to stir with different organizations defying the czar’s rule.

In 1914 Russia was a part of the entente, an alliance also consisting of Great Britain and France, whom stood against the central powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy) during what would be known as the Great War and later (at the time of WWII) as the First World War. Russia was an early looser with the powers of Germany overpowering it. This was yet again a disaster, but of a grander scale. The war took place in the motherland and the Russians were losing. The already low standard of living decreased, there was food shortage and millions of soldiers were lost in battle. Uprisings started in the larger cities among workers and together with deserters of the Russian army the czar was forced to abdicate. This was the result of the February revolution (in March according to the Gregorian calendar) 1917.

A provisional government was formed but this too would have to step down. During the October revolution (in November) the Bolsheviks (translated to “men of the majority”) managed to get power by another military uprising. The Bolsheviks was a result of the misery in Russia and they shared a communist ideology – calling for an end of a society divided by class with an ambition of collectivizing ownership. The new Russian ruler quickly made peace with Germany, resulting in the loss of large areas. Their new system was put to use and the royal family, with Nikolaj and Anastasia, was executed. A civil war started together with a witch hunt on wealthy people and landowners.

Russia’s new leader was Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the rebels since the turn of the century. He was a vital part in turning Russia yet again to a super power, but now as a part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).

This Soviet 1 ruble coin is commemorating the year when Lenin would have turned 100 years (1970).

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