Elaborate illustrated books on Swiss coinage

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by Ursula Kampmann
translated by Annika Backe

July 14, 2016 – It is a great feat to design a book with a serious numismatic content in such a way that it is also read with interest and pleasure by the non-expert. With the two elaborate volumes he published on the occasion of an exhibition of UBS Carouge, Olivier Chaponnière has fully accomplished this goal. 

Olivier Chaponnière en collaboration avec Roger Durand, Antoine Bovy & le Franc suisse. Genève 2015. 151 p., color illustrations throughout. Paperback. Adhesive binding. 21 x 30cm. ISBN 978-2-940574-00-1. CHF 100 / 90 euros – Special price for CoinsWeekly readers CHF 50.

In these two volumes, the emphasis is placed not so much on the coins themselves as usual but on the development that led to these coins. In his work on Antoine Bovy and the Swiss franc, Chaponnière – in collaboration with Roger Durand – not only publishes the coins but, first and foremost, the numerous drafts by the hand of Bovy. A telling example is the 5 franc piece with sitting Helvetia. Bovy has given it a great deal of thought if it would have been better to depict her sitting in a frontal position or even enthroned. He drew the most diverse versions of her hands until he finally arrived at the one, the expressive gesture. Olivier Chaponnière shows us Bovy’s sketches of the Mont Blanc massif, all the studies the artist had made until he found just the right background for his sitting Helvetia.
Or take the drafts for standing Helvetia: She could have looked like a Greek kore directly from the Acropolis, or like a Roman matron. 

It is impressive to look at the drawings and test strikes that make you reflect on how alternative depictions might have looked like. Brief and concise, the accompanying texts make you want to put your school French to the test. 

Olivier Chaponnière en collaboration avec Roger Durand, L’Or de la Suisse. Genève 2015. 103 p., color illustrations throughout. Paperback. Adhesive binding. 21 x 30cm. ISBN 978-2-940574-01-8. CHF 100 / 90 euros – Special price for readers of CoinsWeekly CHF 50.

This can also be said of the marvelous type catalog of Swiss gold coins, the catalog being much more than just a catalog of types. It also contains much background information, trial strikes, plaster models, and design drawings, supplemented by fantastic pictures and enlargements. To collectors who find not only the price of a coin intriguing, ‘L’Or de la Suisse’ offers a wealth of detailed knowledge that is rarely encountered in other books. 

Lastly, a word on the design. Atelier Roger Pfund has done a tremendous job. Its design contributes to the numismatic message without pushing itself aggressively to the fore. A great compliment for this excellent work!
The only thing that might impair aesthetic delight a little bit is the adhesive binding that will always annoy the reader of such an opulent book. 

According to a statement of Olivier Chaponnière, there are only some copies of the edition left which might be purchased by CoinsWeekly readers for the special price of 50 francs. This sum should be invested because this book is an asset to every library specialized in Swiss numismatics. 

If you want to buy the book, simply send the Chaponnière company an email.