The arms are derived from the historical arms of Appenzell. The canton Appenzell was created in the late 14th century and became a free canton in 1411, and a member of the Swiss Confederation in 1513.
The arms with a bear date from 1403 and are derived from the arms of the Abbey of St. Gallen. The territory historically was a possession of the St. Gallen Abbey. The difference with the arms of the abbey was the silver shield, the abbey used a golden field. The bear is clearly shown as a male bear, and the Appenzell council was very strict on this. When in 1477 a calendar was published where the sex of the bear could not be seen, the council wrote a furious letter saying that the bear was shown as a female, and they demanded that all unsold calendars were to be destroyed...
In 1597 the canton was divided into Appelzell Innerrhoden and Appenzell Ausserrhoden, and the two new cantons needed new arms. Appenzell Innerrhoden continued the old arms, whereas Appenzell Auserrhoden added the letters V and R. These stand for Ussrhoden, the name mentioned in the letter of the division in 1597. During the French occupation the arms were to be abolished. However, when it was mentioned that the letters stood for Vive la République, the French governor was satisfied and the arms were allowed...
The arms on a 1812 coin
In 1948 it was attempted to come to a common symbol for both Appenzell cantons, and a proposal for new arms showed a divided shield with the two bears facing each other. This shield was used in the seal of the country in 1948, but the cantons still use their separate arms.
The seal of 1948 with the appenzell arms on the right (next to the letter O).
Already in 1878 Adolphe Gaultier in "Les armoiries et les couleurs de la Conféderation et des cantons suisses" proposed a similar divided shield for Appenzell, but in his proposal both bears faced the same direction. His proposal was never used.
Variations of the arms in the Kaffee Hag albums 1914-1960
Swiss heraldry portal
This page is part of the Swiss heraldry portal
Heraldry of the World
Swiss civic heraldry:
Contact and Support
Your logo here ?
© since 1995, Heraldry of the World, Ralf Hartemink
Index of the site Mühlmann, L. : Wappen und Fahnen der Schweiz, Bühler Verlag, Lengnau, 1977 and 1997.