Memorabilia of Shootings as signs of Swiss Traditions

by Jürg Richter

1. Shooting Medals

The first shooting festival of the Swiss Confederation took place in Aarau from June 7th to 12th, 1824 and led to the founding of the Swiss Shooting Society (Schweizerischer Schützenverein).

Gold medal of the Aargau Canton Shooting Festival in Rheinfelden in 1905.

Shooting festivals are known in Switzerland since the 14th century. For example a “Freischießen” (shooting festival) took place in Zurich in 1504. The actual peak of canton and confederation festivals was reached in the second part of the 19th century.

Silver medal n.d. of the Volksschießen in Lugano.

At the beginning of the confederation shooting festivals it was not usual to issue commemorative strikings in form of medals or jetons. The following list gives an overview as to what confederation festivals issued medals or jetons:

– No medals and no jetons

+ Jetons but no medals

Confederation Shooting Festivals

  • 1824 Aarau –
  • 1827 Basel –
  • 1828 Genf +
  • 1829 Fribourg
  • 1830 Bern
  • 1832 Luzern +
  • 1834 Zürich –
  • 1836 Lausanne –
  • 1838 St. Gallen
  • 1840 Solothurn +
  • 1842 Chur (Quaderwiese)
  • 1844 Basel
  • 1847 Glarus
  • 1849 Aarau
  • 1851 Genf
  • 1853 Luzern
  • 1855 Solothurn
  • 1857 Bern
  • 1859 Zürich
  • 1861 Stans
  • 1863 La Chaux-de-Fonds
  • 1865 Schaffhausen
  • 1867 Schwyz
  • 1869 Zug
  • 1872 Zürich
  • 1874 St. Gallen
  • 1876 Lausanne
  • 1879 Basel
  • 1881 Fribourg
  • 1883 Lugano
  • 1885 Bern
  • 1887 Genf
  • 1890 Frauenfeld
  • 1892 Glarus
  • 1895 Winterthur
  • 1898 Neuenburg
  • 1901 Luzern
  • 1904 St. Gallen
  • 1907 Zürich
  • 1910 Bern
  • 1924 Aarau
  • 1929 Bellinzona
  • 1934 Fribourg
  • 1939 Luzern
  • 1949 Chur
  • 1954 Lausanne
  • 1958 Biel
  • 1963 Zürich
  • 1969 Thun
  • 1979 Luzern
  • 1985 Chur
  • 1990 Winterthur
  • 1995 Thun
  • 2000 Bière
  • 2005 Frauenfeld
  • 2010 Aarau
  • 2015 Raron/Visp

Silver medal of the Bezirksschießen in Malcantone (Ticino) in 1852.

Loops and Removed Loops
Many shooting medals were awarded or sold in their original condition with a loop or mount, so that they could be worn during the festivities and shown on the traditional costumes or festive attire.

Silver medal of the Confederate Shooting Festival in Zurich in 1872.

As is well known, shooting medals were not only awarded but also sold by the producers directly at their sales- or presentation stands during the festival to interested customers. Often the purchaser could choose between a medal with loop (mount) or without loop.

Gilded white metal medal of the Confederate Freischiessen in St. Gallen in 1838.

One must differentiate between a medal that was delivered from the producer without a loop, that was later added, or whether the loop was included in the original minting or striking process.
Thus it was possible that a medal struck with a loop, had this removed at the request of the purchaser, when so desired. It is certain that numerous medals were struck in advance with a loop, which was removed at a later time.

Tin medal of the Confederate Shooting Festival in Bern in 1885.

All these specimens are not to be mistaken with the coins and medals often found in the trade, by which a later added loop was removed, thus leaving a visible mounting mark.

Partially gilded shooting cup of the Cantonal Shooting Festival in Solothurn in 1882.

2. Shooting Cups, Shooting Goblets & Shooting Memorabilia

Shooting cups were made in all sorts of designs for the respective shooting festivals and events.
In most cases the cups and goblets were made out of silver. In rarer cases they were made out of plated bronze or plated white metal.

Tablet of the Central Swiss Freischießen in Lucerne in 1911.

Contrary, plating was relatively common for shooting memorabilia, for example serving tablets or cutlery.
Many of the cups, and some goblets show, aside from the event, also engraved inscriptions. These are often in reference to the donor of the trophy. Many of these inscriptions make an otherwise common shooting cup or goblet into something singular, yes even unique.

Shooting cup of the XVIIIth Cantonal Shooting Festival Unterwalden in 1898.

As to Rarity
Even when single cups or goblets – for example those of confederation festivals – were made in several hundred specimens, one must not forget that during the time of production and awarding, they represented a very high value.
A shooting cup that weighed 250 grams, for example, represented a value of 50 francs in silver coins. At the turn of the 19th/20th century this represented the weekly salary of an employee in a middle position.
This led, logically, that the won prize in form of a cup or goblet was melted soon after the event and exchanged for cash.

Shooting cup of the Aargau Cantonal Shooting Festival in Burgdorf in 1880.

Those shooting cups that escaped the fate of melting (see above) were usually displayed in a central location of the shooting society’s club house or at the home of the marksman.
Silver has the property of reacting with oxygen in the air and oxidizing to a dark brown to black patina. This is absolutely normal and does not mean a diminution of value.

Shooting cup of the Confederate Shooting Festival in St. Gallen in 1904.

Naturally, one tried to avoid this and thus many of these shooting cups, goblets or memorabilia were regularly cleaned. If this was done carefully and “non-destructively”, a professionally cleaned cup is of equal value to a cup with dark patina.

Shooting cup of the Cantonal Shooting Festival Obwalden in Engelberg in 1899.

For the first time in Swiss numismatics, one of the largest private collections of shooting medals is being offered in this catalogue. This collection has been compiled since the 60’s of the 20th century with great enthusiasm and a special view for exceptionally good qualities.
Many pieces are therefore in superb quality and from the standpoint of rarity partially very rare or even extremely rare. In addition there are a number of unique items to be found this collection.
One can be sure that this catalogue will become a reference work for many years for collectors of shooting medals.

In the present catalogue, a never before seen number of shooting cups, – goblets and –memorabilia are offered alongside the unique collection of shooting medals.
Many of the items are in superb quality and partially very rare or extremely rare. In regard to individually engraved objects, a large number may be specified as unique.
This part of the catalogue is a collection founded over many decades with great meticulousness, love to detail and a view to good quality.
Here too, one can assume that this catalogue will become a reference work for collectors of shooting cups, goblets and memorabilia for many years.

You can read the auction preview of this special collection here.

And to browse the auction catalogue directly click here.