Switzerland’s silver and gold medals commemorating the nation’s annual shooting festival are now available.
The Proof .900 fine silver 50-franc and .999 fine gold 500-franc “Shooting talers” mark the 2012 event, which is being staged in the Swiss canton of Graubünden.
Swiss marksmanship is legendary, recalling the story of hero William Tell who shot an apple off his son’s head. The Swiss tradition of superior marksmanship was established during the Old Swiss Confederacy, in the 15th century, when festival participants showed off their aim using the crossbow.
The modern event, while fun, has a practical side, in that it keeps the citizen soldiery drilled and sharp, according to the American distributor for the medals, Talisman Coins. Today, the Swiss Shooting Association boasts 85,000 active, dues paying members, according to Talisman Coins. Every five years a federal shooting festival draws more than 50,000 marksmen for a month to demonstrate their shooting skills (smaller, annual, festivals, like the 2012 event, are also held).
The obverse of the medal features a classical allegorical figure, Helvetia (the female personification of the Swiss Republic), half nude. She wears a cape and a liberty cap. Her right hand rests on a large shield, emblazoned with the Swiss cross. With her left hand, Helvetia awards the laurel wreath of victory to a kneeling sharpshooter, crowning him. He holds the rifle of his trade and has deferentially removed his cap, which rests on the ground.
On the reverse, a wreath of oak leaves and laurel surround the denomination. Beneath the wreath, a marksman’s powder horn and bandolier hang from a pair of crossed rifles or muskets. The legend indicates (in both Italian and German, two of the four official languages of Switzerland) that the medal is redeemable during the shooting festival.
The silver medal weighs 25 grams, measures 37 millimeters in diameter and has a mintage limit of 1,500 pieces. The gold medal weighs 15.567 grams, measures 33 millimeters in diameter and has a mintage limit of 175 pieces. Both medals have a milled edge.
Talisman offers the silver medal for $99.95 and the gold medal for $1,399.95. To order, telephone Talisman Coins at 888-552-2646 or visit www.talismancoins.com. ■