There's a popular conception that the Swiss franc - one of the few independent currencies left in Western Europe - is backed by gold. Indeed, until the year 2000, the Swiss currency was legally required to be 40 percent backed by the nation's gold reserves.

However, a Swiss referendum - the country has a vibrant and active popular democracy - cut the link between gold and the currency, and the Swiss national bank sold off a large fraction of its gold.

Though it's gained popularity as a currency less vulnerable to the whims of central bankers than the dollar or other fiat currencies, the Swiss franc is not, fundamentally, gold-backed. While it remains one of the strongest currencies in the world, the Swiss themselves are trying to push back against the franc's appreciation.

Even though the Swiss franc isn't backed by gold, the nation's Swiss 20 franc gold bullion coins are an extremely popular form of physical gold buying, since investors and buyers tend to associate Swiss banking and currency with stability, discretion and reliability.

Each Swiss 20 franc gold bullion coin contains 0.1867 troy ounces of pure gold.