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A black cent is a small coin that used to be widespread in southwestern Germany and in what is now northern Switzerland and in southern Alsace , the Sundgau . Today the Swiss franc is divided into 100 cents (abbreviation: Rp. ).


Rappen pfennig freiburg.jpg
Friborg Rappenpfennig around 1290
Stäbler coin.jpg
Stäbler (coin) of the city of Basel around 1380

The name of the coin “Rappen” is etymologically identical to the animal name Rapp, an expressive subsidiary form of raven . The black is first attested for coins that were minted in Freiburg im Breisgau in the second quarter of the 14th century . It was probably originally a mock designation for the embossed eagle reminding of a raven; The memory of the bad pennies that Herr von Rappoltstein had unauthorized minted and put into circulation at the end of the 13th century also played a role ("Kolmarrappen").


This type of coin was very common on the Upper Rhine. In the so-called Rappenmünzbund of 1377, numerous mints joined together in this area, including the Bishop of Basel for his mint in Breisach , in Alsace Colmar , Thann and the Sundgau , from today's Switzerland the cities of Basel, Schaffhausen , Zofingen , Zurich and Bern , Solothurn and Neuchâtel as well as Freiburg in front Austria and other places in Breisgau . The aim was to create a uniform coin system and thus economic relief. The Rappenpfennig was the main currency unit. In 1584 this union was dissolved.

Lucerne rappen from 1774 and modern Swiss rappen
1 Rappen (1910)

Several Swiss cantons continued to mint black horses. In 1798 the Swiss franc was introduced at 100 cents in the Helvetic Republic . This currency could never completely displace the cantonal coin units. After the end of the Helvetic Republic in 1803, the cantons minted both blacks and other small coins that differed from canton to canton. In 1850, after the founding of the federal state, today's franc was introduced as the uniform Swiss currency, which was equivalent to a French franc but 0.7 old Swiss francs. Until the dissolution of the Latin Monetary Union in 1927, one centime corresponded to one French centime . That is why the name for the black horse is still centime in French and centesimo in Italian .

Today's coinage

Today Switzerland mints coins of five , ten and twenty centimes, then the ½ franc coin (as it is officially called), which corresponds to a fifty centime coin. One centime pieces were minted until 2006, but were suspended on January 1, 2007. In payment transactions, however, they were no longer relevant. The minting of two-rappen pieces was stopped in 1974; In 1978 they were suspended. In 2005 and 2006, discussions were held about discontinuing the coinage of the five-centime coin due to excessive costs and allegedly lack of demand . In particular, it was argued that the five-centime coin would no longer be accepted at public transport ticket machines or parking lot clocks. However, the Federal Council abandoned this plan to put the Fünfräppler out of course in mid-2006, so that Fünfräppler will continue to be shaped. In the meantime, production costs have also fallen again.


The colloquial term for the Rappen coin is Räppler (or Einräppler ), while the term Räppli for Rappen coins in Switzerland - contrary to popular opinion in German-speaking countries - is not in use.

The term Räppli does exist in Basel , but it does not refer to a coin, but to confetti . The multiples of the Cent Foundation be short Füfi or Füfer (or depending on the dialect Föifi, Föifer, Fünfi, quintet ), Zähni or Zähner , Zwänzgi or Zwänzger and Füfzgi or Füfzger mentioned. What is remarkable about this linguistic usage is that the fifty- rappen denomination is not a Rappen, but a Franconian denomination: "½ Fr."

The verb shell out is probably not derived from the coin name, but most likely goes back to the Rotwelsche .

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Rappen  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Rappen  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Schweizerisches Idiotikon , Volume VI, Col. 1173 ff. ( Rapp II, see note on etymology, Col. 1178 ff.); then Wolfgang Pfeifer : Etymological Dictionary of German. 2nd, reviewed and supplemented edition. Academy, Berlin 1993, p. 1081 f .; Friedrich Kluge : Etymological dictionary of the German language . Edited by Elmar Seebold . 25th, reviewed and expanded edition, De Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2011, p. 745. - The one in Julius Cahn : Der Rappenmünzbund. A study on the history of coins and money in the upper Rhine Valley (1901) suggested an explanation that the designation “black horse” originally meant “black penny” because the little silver penny turned black faster (black like a black horse ), was not given by later etymologists accepted.
  2. ^ Friedrich Kluge: Etymological dictionary of the German language. 25th, revised and expanded edition. Edited by Elmar Seebold. De Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2011, ISBN 978-3-11-022364-4 , p. 110; Wolfgang Pfeifer: Etymological dictionary of German. 2nd edition. Akademie, Berlin 1993, p. 1103 (under Lemma Reibach ).