Republic of Zurich, 1/4 Ducat 1677


Republic of Zurich, 1/4 Ducat 1677 (obverse) Republic of Zurich, 1/4 Ducat 1677 (reverse)

The once flourishing textile trade was languishing in Zurich in the first half of the 16th century. Only the production of kerchiefs still had some transregional importance. This changed after about 1650, however, thanks to the influx of Protestant and Calvinist refugees. These people were able to act uninhibited by the strict and limiting Zurich guild regulations, and thus successfully implemented innovative new business models. In this way the refugees helped to put the Zurich textile industry back on the map.

Many of the immigrants founded prosperous companies, and became wealthy and rich. One example is the Muralt family, originally called Muralto, from Ticino. They founded the silk company Muralt on the Sihl, which in the 17th century became a lucrative enterprise with connections to Flanders and northern Italy. Soon the Muralt's meddled with Zurich politics; as from 1807, they called themselves 'Von Muralt'.

For people like the Muralt's, a quarter ducat one was every day-small change. They may have used if to pay for the flowers on their dining table, for the tailor, or the hairdresser. At the end oft he 17th century one of the richest Zurich citizens, the silk manufacturer Hartmann, paid 104,000 ducats (15,600,000 schillings) for taxes. The daily pay (without food) for a head worker was 16-17 schillings – the laborer had to work 45 minutes, for instance, for a liter of (sour) wine, and 1,6 hours for a pound of beef.


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