„A Bell for Ursli“ in Gold

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May 26, 2011 – On May 26, the Swissmint issues the gold coin “A Bell for Ursli”. This is a numismatic appreciation of the famous and taking figure of Schellenursli invented by the Swiss designer and artist Alois Carigiet and the author Selina Chönz.

Switzerland – 50 CHF – “A Bell for Ursli” – 900 Au – 11,92 g – 25 mm – Design: based on Alois Carigiets Schellen-Ursli – Proof: max. 6.000

The story of Ursli and his bell has been fascinating children and adults for more than 60 years. Now the Swissmint has chosen the famous figure of a storybook as subject of the gold coin 2011. The face value of this commemorative coin is 50 Swiss Francs. It will be issued on May 26, 2011.

The village, where Bell-Ursli lives. ©.

Bell-Ursli wins the children’s hearts
The gold coin refers to the best-known Swiss storybook. The story of “Bell-Ursli” was written by Selina Chönz and illustrated by Alois Carigiet in 1945. Generations of children have followed the little boy, when he goes his dangerous way to the chalet in order to get the big, big bell:

A Bell for Ursli
«High up in the mountains, far, far from here, lives a little boy like you, in this tiny village, poor and small, his home all alone below.» Who has never heard the tale of Schellen-Ursli (Bell-Ursli)? Pushed aside by the bigger boys at the distribution of the bells for the Chalandamarz festival, all he gets is a small goat’s bell and his pals make fun of him as “Bell-Ursli”. Having only the smallest bell, he is forced to walk at the very end of the Chalandamarz procession on 1st March when the winter is driven away through loud bell-ringing and singing. That’s when he remembers the giant cowbell in his parents’ mountain hut. Inspired by this ambition, he sets out on the long and hazardous way to the mountain hut and brings the bell back. Since he now has the largest bell, he is permitted to lead the procession.

«A Bell for Ursli» is one of the best-known Swiss children’s books. It owes its fame to its theme of rural idyll, the rhyming text by Selina Chönz (1910 – 2000) and the artistic illustrations by Alois Carigiet. First published in 1945, the book about the probably best-known Engadine mountain farmer’s son has been translated into a number of languages, and some 2 million copies have been sold to date. The original version appeared in the Rhaeto-Romanic language under the title «Uorsin».

Alois Carigiet
Alois Carigiet, a graphic designer and artist born in Trun (Grisons) in 1902, came from a mountain farming family. From 1923 to 1927 he served an apprenticeship as a painter and decorative designer in an advertising studio in Chur. He then worked as a freelance commercial artist in Zurich, producing theatre scenery and posters. He was one of the founders of the legendary Cabaret Cornichon where he was responsible for scenery, costumes and advertising. In 1939, Alois Carigiet withdrew to Platenga in the commune of Obersaxen where he worked as a freelance artist. His rural surroundings frequently provided the subjects for his drawings, water colours, lithographs and oil paintings.
He illustrated several prizewinning children’s books some of which he published with the author Selina Chönz, and designed various murals (Grisons Grossratssaal in Chur, Muraltengut in Zurich, Schwarzer Adler in Stein am Rhein). Alois Carigiet died in Trun on 1st August 1985. Numerous solo and group exhibitions in Switzerland and abroad. Awards: 1966 Hans Christian Andersen Award as an illustrator and Schweizer Jugendbuchpreis (Swiss Youth Book Prize), 1974 Bündner Kulturpreis (Grisons Cultural Prize).

That’s the way to the Swissmint.

If you want to know more about Guarda, the village of Bell-Ursli, click here.

If you want to watch, how children are casting out the winter with the Chalandamarz in the Engadine, click here.