February 27, 2014 – On 30 January 2014, the Federal Mint Swissmint has launched a new commemorative coin for coin enthusiasts and collectors. The bimetallic coin features an illustration of the ‘Gansabhauet’, an age-old custom practised in the commune of Sursee in Luzern.
With the ‘Gansabhauet Sursee’ commemorative coin, the Federal Mint Swissmint is continuing the ‘Swiss customs’ series. The previous issues were dedicated to the following customs: 10-franc bimetal coins: 2011 ‘Bern Onion Market’, 2012 ‘Cow fighting’, 2013 ‘Silvesterchlausen’; 5-franc bimetal coins: 1999 ‘Fête des Vignerons, Vevey’, 2000 ‘Basler Fasnacht’, 2001 ‘Zu?rcher Sechseläuten’, 2002 ‘Escalade, Geneva’ and 2003 ‘Chalandamarz’.
On St Martin’s Day, 11 November, a large number of festivities and traditions are celebrated in Switzerland. A particularly striking tradition is the ‘Gansabhauet’ in Sursee, where two dead geese are suspended by the neck, one after the other, from a wire rope on a stage erected in front of the town hall. Young men, and occasionally women too, dressed in red cloaks and with a sun mask over their heads, try to sever the goose’s neck with a single blow from their sabre. To ensure that this is not too easy, a pointed cap is pulled down over the candidates’ faces so that they cannot see anything, the dragoon sabre is blunt and a glass of red wine as well as a few 360° turns are enough to make the participants a little unsteady.
It generally takes from five to twenty strokes to behead both geese. Successful participants are rewarded with the goose. The event is accompanied by children’s attractions such as pole climbing, sack racing and ‘Chäszänne’, in which the aim is to win a piece of cheese by making the craziest possible grimace.
Switzerland / 10 SFR / Aluminium-bronze, Copper-Nickel / 15g / 33mm / Design: Thyl Manuel Eisenmann / Mintage: 90,000 (uncirculated), 11,000 (polished proof).
The coin was designed by Thyl Eisenmann, an artist born in Faido in 1948 and grown up in Kriens in the Canton of Lucerne. After his school leaving examination and a year of art history at the University of Zurich, he studied at the Lucerne School of Design (SfG). Having graduated as an art teacher and spending an additional year in the sculpture department of the same school, followed by taking up a part-time teaching post, he studied printing techniques at various institutions, including the Academy for Applied Art in Vienna. He is especially fond of polychrome copperplate printing. For the majority of the popular, Fasnacht-inspired ‘Lucerne art prints’ he used the etching technique, more precisely aquatint.
As well as holding numerous exhibitions in Switzerland and abroad, Thyl Eisenmann expanded his repertoire with book illustrations, stage design, wall design (Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, Birmensdorf) and heading further education forums and painting holidays. He is a member of Visarte, and lives and works in Lucerne.
The new ‘Gansabhauet’ commemorative coin is available in the minting qualities ‘uncirculated’ and ‘polished proof’ in a presentation case. It will also form part of the 2014 set of Swiss circulation coins.
For more information on these coins please go to the website of SwissMint.
You can see in a video how the ‘Gansabhauet’ really works.
To can gain an insight into Thyl Eisenmann’s wide-ranging work give a look at his website.