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Trick of the Illusion Bridge

A coin with a perspective, the Illusion Bridge 20 Francs teaches a fine lesson of life – no one gets younger and the past remains out of sight behind us as we progress forward in life.

A coin with a perspective, the Illusion Bridge 20 Francs teaches a fine lesson of life – no one gets younger and the past remains out of sight behind us as we progress forward in life.

In the narrowest sense of the word, an illusion is simply a trick. But an illusion of the eyes or an optical illusion is a little more complex. Sometimes our eyes see an illusion in depth perception or contrasts can make us see things in different ways. Geometrical shapes are often used to create illusions in art and a three dimensional illusion can be established with colors.

I think the child in each of us enjoys being tricked as much as we enjoy being scared. So it is not surprising that the Swiss Mint embarked on a coin illusion project with Swiss artist Sandro Del-Prete.

Del-Prete has a serious canon of work in this arena. In fact he coined a word for his artistic optical illusion work, “illusorism”. A popular example of this illusorism is displayed in his oil painting “The Bridge of Life”, which was used as the model for the silver 20 francs issued in 2021 by the Swiss Mint.

The Illusion Bridge card cover packaging offers a view of the original painting on which the 20 Francs coin was based.

The Illusion Bridge card cover packaging offers a view of the original painting on which the 20 Francs coin was based.

One of the most interesting observations Del-Prete has made of this painting is, “The people are perpetually moving forward, towards the observer, and are never seen from behind. They are always heading towards the end of life. As no one gets younger as time passes, no one can be seen from behind either. This contains and illustrates one of the secrets of the universe: Where is the past? Where is the present? Where is the future?”

The Illusion Bridge coin was produced in .835 fine silver at a weight of 20 grams and a diameter of 33 millimeters. The proof sells for about $65 and carries a mintage of 4,750 pieces, while the brilliant uncirculated strike is for sale at $32.50, with a mintage of 19,000.

The Swiss Mint also offered a very nice educational card cover package housing the BU piece. This was issued at $43.50, but the mint no longer has stock. You can find them for $55 on eBay as of this writing. Another special package had an artist signed card, with only 250 sets offered at under $80. This too sold out on the mint website pretty quickly, but we’ve seen it on eBay for about $100 recently.