For centuries, the Swiss have been known for their expert marksmanship. In fact, the country’s best-known legend, that of William Tell, who famously shot an apple off of his son’s head, centers on the skill. Today, the Swiss continue to celebrate marksmanship with an annual shooting festival. Gold and silver Thalers are issued annually to mark the occasion. The pieces have face values, but they are only valid at the festivals. That means that Thalers are considered medals, not coins. Just 200 of the gold medals will be minted, each one struck from half an ounce of .999 fine gold. 1,500 silver pieces will be issued. Those weigh 25 g and are .900 fine silver. These medals are a great way for collectors throughout the world to celebrate an important part of the culture of one of Europe’s most beautiful countries.
To celebrate marksmanship, the Swiss have held Schützenfest, or shooting festivals, since at least the fifteenth century. Today, the festival is held in a different canton every year, and a federal festival is held every five years. Since 1984, modern medals have been issued for the festival every year. The obverse design changes with each festival and typically honors the canton and/or city in which the festival is held. Helvetica, the Swiss counterpart to the likes of Liberty and Britannia, frequently appears on the medals. In recent years, the series has grown in popularity due to their beauty, their low mintages, and a desire of gun owners throughout the world to celebrate the skill.
The obverse features a pair of bears standing on their hind legs facing each other. They are both sticking their tongues out, and one holds part of a tree limb over his shoulder. The bears are similar to the one found on the coat of arms of Canton Appenzell, home of the 2019 festival. A rim inscription reads, “VOGLINSEGG-SCHIESSEN APPENZELL VR” (Bird’s Eye Shooting Appenzell), while the date, “2019,” is included at the bottom.
The medal’s face value, which is different for the gold and silver pieces, is at the center of the reverse. It is encircled by a wreath. At the bottom of the wreath are two crossed rifles, a powder horn, and a shooting. An inscription along the rim reads, “CONVERTIBLE A LA FETE DE TIR EINLOSBAR AM SCHOTZENFEST,” which means that it is convertible at the festival.