Swiss Confederation, 20 Rappen 1850

Switzerland was the first country to issue coins from special alloys. Until 1881, 20 rappen-coins were made from a mix of copper, zinc, nickel and silver. Then the composition was changed; as from 1881, the 20 rappen-coins were made entirely from nickel.

The new nickel coins were more difficult to counterfeit than the former coins from softer alloys. The high melting point of nickel, and the strong minting machines that were needed to stamp nickel coins, complicated the forgers' lives. However, since nickel was a strategic metal, coinage had to switch to the more economical copper-nickel in 1938. This alloy remained the metallic base for the 20 rappen-coins up to this day.