Books Photographs

Lettering Zurich: Public Typography

“An effigy called the Böögg is burned on a bonfire…”

Lettering Zurich: Public Typography, June 2014, 18 × 28 cm
Selection: cover, pages 6–7, 30–31


Place: Zunfthaus zur Schmiden
Location: Corner of Rindermarkt and Marktgasse
Coordinates: 47.372703 N; 8.543603 E

The history of the Smiths’ Guild starts with its Constitution, which dates from 1336. The guild hall still bears eloquent testimony to 700 years of fascinating history. The Guild was formed from a merger between several groups of trades—smiths, swordsmiths, pewterers (who made tankards, plates and other domestic utensils), metalworkers who made cow bells and church bells, tinsmiths, armourers, knife grinders and barbers.

No other Swiss town has maintained the guild tradition in the same way as Zurich. The annual highlight is the ‘Sechseläuten’ (six o’clock ringing of the bells). During this popular spring festival, the guilds parade through the city to Sechseläutenplatz, where an effigy called the Böögg is burned on a bonfire, combining a celebration of the start of summer working hours for the guilds, which ended at 6 pm each day, and a festival to welcome spring and drive away winter. In the evening the guilds tour each others’ guild houses.

Website: Zunfthaus zur Schmiden in Zurich

Lettering Zurich, p. 7

By Elena Grossman

Elena Grossman is an artist and educator practicing visual art, graphic design, and programming for exhibition spaces, print, and screen media. Learn more about Elena