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I received a letter that included a photo copy of an old b&w photo of this medallion or sign with no explanation of what it is or what it was used.

I understand it is something that was originally from Sigriswil Switzerland near Interlaken. I have no idea if it still exists and I do not know the dimensions or coloring (if any) of the original object. Also, I cannot tell why many bands cross the outer ring of the object to connect to the outer chain, which may help someone date it.

I have a strong belief that across the top is the family name "Sauser", and they are known to have been present in the community and had been for hundreds of years. The community name of Sigriswil Switzerland is shown across the bottom.

I understand the grape ring is symbolic of the wine production for the area. I have read that clovers may be a reference to the Christianizing of the area by Irish monks (Beatus of Lungern). In a Sauser family origins story I have seen the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungrau mountains referred to at least once.

I searched for some of the keywords and crests, medallions, and coats of arms, but I have not found anything similar looking yet. I have a high degree of skepticism that a family would have a coat of arms or symbol unless they had a practical purpose for one.

One theory proposed to me, besides it potentially just being a family crest, is that it was a military unit symbol for a local militia or mercenary group, but at face value it does not appear to me to be that old, but I could be wrong.

My question is the following:

What would the purpose of such a medallion or symbol (i.e. military mymbol, brand even?), and what is the symbolism of the shield and the "1" or "7" depicted?

enter image description here

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    There's no reason to be skeptical of families holding coats of arms. You needn't any practical reason beyond Everyone Else Had One Too. – Semaphore Jan 23 '15 at 6:42
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It does appear to be the Sauser family crest. Here are some colour versions:

enter image description hereenter image description here

As you can see, the design consists of two trefoils (i.e. clovers), growing from a trimount (i.e. a mount of three hillocks), on a blue blackground. The crossed-seven-esque sign in gold appears to be a hausmarke.

The trefoils are a symbol for perpetuity. As a side note, green shamrocks are also symbol device of Ireland (often depicted with heart-shaped petals). While not the case here, they are particularly common in the crests of emigrant Irish families, symbolising their ancestral home.

The trimount straightforwardly represents three mountains, and has also been interpreted to symbolise the Holy Trinity. It is a relatively common element in Swiss heraldry, which may represent Mont Blanc, the Eiger, and the Matterhorn. But the design is also found in the rest of Europe, for instance on the arms of Slovakia where it symbolises the Tatra, the Fatra, and the Mátra.

In fact, the arms of Sigriswil, where the family was in, also features the trimount:

enter image description here


Coats of arms was essentially a form of personal or family identification.It was generally a mark of the nobility, but can also be granted without ennoblement or freely assumed. In the latter cases it might represent a luxury or a higher social status than peasants. Specifically, in Switzerland, just about everyone possessed arms.

Nearly every bourgeois and farming family in Switzerland seems to have a coat of arms.

- Fearn, Jacqueline. Discovering Heraldry. Gramercy Pub. Co., 1980. Print.

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    Thank You for sending me down the path I needed to be put down, I am not sure why still they would have needed one but your answer helped me discover several additional variants of it over the years which will help me figure that out. From my other previous research symbolism for there refers to Eiger, Mönch, Jungrau. The monk I was referring to was Beatus of Lungern. – CRSouser Jan 23 '15 at 14:01
  • @CRSouser please keep us updated, if you don't mind ;) – o0'. Jan 23 '15 at 14:36
  • @CRSouser Glad you found this useful. I'm not sure what you mean about why they needed one, though. It was quite standard for a noble family to have a coat of arms. – Semaphore Jan 23 '15 at 16:21
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    @Semaphore That is the part I may be missing, as it is not clear if the family was noble or if it was/is custom for the area to every family of an area to develop a crest or only ones of certain ranks. To date I have not established the family as being of notable rank, and the path you've set me has me looking further into heraldry customs. – CRSouser Jan 23 '15 at 16:30
  • @CRSouser Oh, it doesn't have to be noble. Just about every family of some status held arms. – Semaphore Jan 23 '15 at 16:32

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