The People of Zurich and their Money - 15 stories



Our series ‘The People of Zurich and their Money’ takes you along for the ride as we explore the Zurich of times past. We did not detect a specific attitude of the people of Zurich towards money, but these people have always been curious and innovative when it comes to making money. Always in relation to trends outside Zurich, to take advantage of Zurich's central location and the willingness of the people to travel abroad. That is good to remember. Trying to resist or ignore disruptive changes to the global economy – especially the pseudo-strategy of attempting to withdraw from the difficulties and close the door behind you – is certain to fail. This is a danger for Switzerland today as it flirts with dead-end ideas like immigration stops and outdated nationalistic myths. 

With a click on the picture, you hear the audio file of two or three minutes. If you prefer, press the link and you get to the text. 

Part 1: The Celtsâ – First Contact with Greek Money

In this first chapter, we’ll be eavesdropping on a conversation from the 3rd century BC between a Celtic farmer and his wife.

  • Read Part 1 here.

Part 2: The Customs Station of Turicum

This time, you’ll get a chance to read about two men chatting with one another at the customs station of Turicum at the end of the 2nd century AD.

  • Read Part 2 here.

Part 3: At the Market in Zurich

In this instalment, you’ll get to read a dialogue between a buyer from out of town who’s trying to pay for his purchases in the year 1335.

  • Read Part 3 here.

Part 4: Robber Barons in Zurich?

The year 1371 saw the pinnacle of a crisis for the aristocracy, which was desperately fighting for its economic and political survival.

  • Read Part 4 here.

Part 5: The Soldier's Wages of Pavia

This time it’s the year 1512 and we’re standing in the chamber of the Abbess of the Fraumünster Abbey. She is hiding a mercenary leader who’s on the run.

  • Read Part 5 here.

Part 6: Can You Put a Price on Salvation?

Around the year 1520, a woman from Zurich attempts to prevent her husband, a master craftsman, from buying an indulgence.

  • Read Part 6 here.

Part 7: The ‘Robbery’ of the Church Silver

There was tension in the air in the autumn of 1526: The reformed Zurich had just expropriated the church on its territory.

  • Read Part 7 here.

Part 8: A technology from Zurich captures the world

Hans Vogler was involved in the promotion of a machine that was to revolutionize minting – but he gained no profit out of it.

  • Read Part 8 here.

Part 9: Burning a woman – 7 pfund 10 shilling

Today, you will learn from Master Hans which price he charged the Säckelmeister (treasurer) in 1701 – for torturing, beheading and burning a woman!

  • Read Part 9 here.

Part 10: The Troublemaker

Today, you will get to know Minister Waser, a know-it-all and troublemaker who made himself a lot of enemies with all his fierce accusations.

  • Read Part 10 here.

Part 11: Ziegler – the soldier millionaire, who would not know him?

Leonhard Ziegler, after going bankrupt, fled to India in 1802 to become one of the country’s richest men – he advised his fellow countrymen to follow his example, to learn English and go abroad.

  • Read Part 11 here.

Part 12: The walled city

In April 1833, a young man explained to his spouse why the Zurich fortifications, on which they took a stroll, had to be battered down under all circumstances.

  • Read Part 12 here.

Part 13: And lead us not into temptation!

On October 1, 1869, bank director Karl Stadler, attended by procurator Heinrich von Wyss, opened the safe of the Union Bank of Switzerland in the Zurich branch. It was empty ...

  • Read Part 13 here.

Part 14: Rich and Poor

This episode is about the different worlds in the year 1887. An American journalist first visited Aussersihl, a suburb of Zurich, and afterwards a businessman in his villa.

  • Read Part 14 here.


Part 15: Migros causes revolution in food retail sector

In this episode you will listen to a Migros seller and a modern housewife talking back in 1925.

  • Read Part 15 here.

Signet Sunflower Foundation