Swissmint (formerly the Bern Mint or the Federal Mint; German: Eidgenössische Münzstätte) is the official mint of the Swiss Confederation. It is the entity responsible for the production of Swiss franc coins, as well as commemorative medals and coins for private customers. In addition, it was also previously responsible for the production of stamps.
The Bern Mint was built in southern Bern at the Gerberngraben during the 18th century by Swiss architect Niklaus Sprüngli using a design by Jacques Denis Antoine, who previously designed the Parisian Hôtel des Monnaies in 1765. The earliest Swiss franc coins were minted at the Bern Mint from 1798 to 1803, many bearing a "B" mint mark. Subsequently, the mint began producing cantonal coins until 1850, when the Swiss franc was reintroduced. In 1853, the Swiss Federal Government took over the Bern Mint on a trial basis, renaming it to the Federal Mint (German: Eidgenössische Münzstätte), and from 1890, became an official governmental institution.
Over time, the mint building at Gerberngraben became too small, which led to the opening of a new mint building in 1906. The new Neo-Renaissance-styled building was designed by Theodor Gohl and took approximately three years to complete. The old mint building was sold in 1910 to Hotel Bellevue AG. It was demolished in 1911 and the Hotel Bellevue Palace was built in its place.
From 1885 to 1930, the Federal Mint was the main entity that produced Swiss stamps. Until 1966, the mint continued to produce stamps, though the Swiss Post took over most issuance in 1931. On January 1, 1998, the mint gained a new status and a new name, "Swissmint".
Swissmint's most notable responsibility is the production of general issue coinage. In addition, it also produces commemorative coins and medals for collectors, as well as stamp dies fot the Swiss Post. The mint is also tasked with removing soiled, worn, or damaged coins from circulation and evaluating possible counterfeit coinage.
The mint building is located in the Kirchenfeld district of Bern, in the same vicinity as the Kirchenfeld Gymnasium, Natural History Museum of Bern, Swiss Federal Archives, and Swiss National Library.
The Neo-Renaissance style building designed by Theodore Gohl is rectangular in shape and bears an interior courtyard. The structure is built with bright red bricks, with cornices and decorative elements composed of sandstone, limestone, and gneiss. Underneath a canopied roof is the Swiss coat of arms. Carved next to the entrance of the building are two coin images carved in marble, designed by Swiss sculptor Giuseppe Chiattone. The windows on the bottom floor of the building are protected by wrought-iron grilles. Several constructional and technical advances have been performed on the building since it was built over one-hundred years ago.