1888B 5F PCGS MS66
The Swiss Five Franc Laureate Head series is full of challenges and opportunity. Although they were minted between 1888 and 1916, only 14 different dates were produced over that time frame. When looking at all grade availability, the series is roughly evenly split between type coins and key dates. When attempting to find high grade (gem and above), original examples, all but a few dates become exceedingly hard to locate. The 1888 was the first year of issue and is a very tough key date of equal rarity with the 1895 and 1912. These three make up the “Big 3” coins of the Laureate Head Series.
Due to differing collecting tastes and grading preferences of other cultures, one has to be very careful in looking at world coin populations as a proxy for rarity. Many coins in many series may simply not have found their way to the American based grading services because of low demand and value. This is true in many cases, but Swiss coinage is widely collected and popular. The rarity of this piece is undisputed.
PCGS has graded just 4 of this date in all grades with no changes in the population for literally years. It is the finest I have encountered in over a decade of searching for rare Swiss coinage and the highest graded by PCGS. I consider this coin to be of museum quality and a tremendous value and opportunity.
If you are looking for an alternative to American coins while keeping the high level of quality, craftsmanship and beauty at fractions of the price for insanely difficult coins, this specimen should be seriously considered.
Obtained from a private collection in Switzerland.
Auction records are scattered and infrequent. The last nice coin to sell at auction was a high end NGC MS64 in 2012 that brought $4887.50. A very ugly mottled NGC MS65 sold in 2016 for $4465.