Roger Federer’s mug has appeared on pasta ads, car commercials, Rimowa billboards and soon it will be on actual Swiss coins. Switzerland’s federal mint announced yesterday that it will produce two sets of commemorative coins bearing the image of the 38-year old tennis champion.
True to his reputation as the “the most marketable face in tennis,” pre-orders for the Roger Federer coins has been so high that the mint’s online shop is essentially crippled. “We have millions of clicks on our webshop, and because of that our shop is collapsing periodically,” Marius G. Haldimann, Swissmint’s general manager told Quartz. “We never thought that it [the surge of public interest] will be this big,” he added. The Federer coins can only be ordered online, unlike others issued by Swissmint, which can also be ordered by phone.
Starting January 23, 2020, Swissmint plans to issue 60,000 to 100,000 units of the 20 franc ($20) silver coins, which it’s selling for $30. Even though it may be a challenge to buy them online today, Haldimann confirmed there are still about 15,000 coins available for sale. Swissmint also plans to issue gold 50-franc coins bearing Federer’s image with a different design next year.
Haldimann’s tip for ardent collectors: “Passion.” In what seemed to be a nod to tenacity, he said: “Try it. That is the only advice I can offer.”
Designed by Italian engraver Remo Mascherini, the coin features an image of the 20-time Grand Slam winner based on what appears to be a wire photo from Federer’s winning turn against Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas at the 2018 Australian Open. The reference image supplied by Swissmint is clearly from file photos of the tournament.
However, comparing the handout image supplied by Swissmint and the tournament photos, it’s notable that the coin does not have Federer sporting Uniqlo-branded apparel, one of his many corporate sponsors.
Beyond tennis fans, numismatists may find the Federer coins particularly collectible, because it’s the first time that a living person is appearing on a Swiss coin. Past Swissmint coin motifs have been predictably neutral. They include Alpine roadways, deer, the Swiss Army knife, and yodeling.
Switzerland has been generally cautious about featuring people on its monetary instruments. In 2017, its central bank elected to remove architect Le Corbusier and his plan for the Indian city of Chandigarh from the 10-franc banknotes. It was in response to revelations suggesting that he was a “militant fascist” and a supporter of Adolf Hitler.