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Basel Historical Museum

Objects in the collection

Basel Historical Museum has a collection comprising over 250,000 objects. A selection of these is presented here.

The scientists, scholars and collectors of the 16th century and thereafter kept Wunderkammer full of spectacular objects and works of art. Among the treasures presented are some that originally belonged to the world-famous Amerbach Cabinet.

Discover further Swiss museum collections at Museums Online.

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Chosen Exhibits

Cannon from the Burgundian spoils

Mechelen, dated 1474 – Jean de Malines, Mechelen Cast bronze – length 255.5 cm, calibre 22.8 cm – Inv. 1874.95.

The Basle chronicler Johannes Knebel reports that on 14 March 1476 the Basle troops brought …

Muzzle loading needle gun for guncotton cartridges

Valentin Sauerbrey, Basle, 1846 – Wood, steel, brass, leather – overall length 144.5 cm, barrel length 96.5 cm – Inv. 1949.62.a.

In 1846 Christian Friedrich Schönbein was responsible for a discovery in Basle that had a …

Crossbow with steel bow and rack and pinion winch

dated 1565 – Switzerland or South Germany – Steel, wood, ivory, hemp cord – length of bow 60 cm, length of shaft 63 cm – Inv. 1888.99. – Inv. 1888.99.a.

In the late C15 steel bows replaced those made of laminated horn. The innovation brought …

Swiss dagger

dated 1572, probably Basle – Blade in cast brass, gilt – length of dagger 37.9cm, length of sheath 30.8 cm – Inv. 1882.107.

Display weapons were seldom made in Switzerland, since for both economic and political …

Basle uniforms and various military items from the 18th and 19th centuries

From left to right: Uniform of the Basle war commissioner Johann David La Roche (1817 31) uniform of a mounted 'Jaeger' patrolman, ca. 1830 – uniform of an officer of the volunteer company, late 18th century – uniform jacket of an officer of the Helvetian Republic, ca. 1800 – uniform jacket of a grenadier of the 1st Basle Regiment, ca. 1810 – Inv. 1893.70. – Inv. 1905.5586. – Inv. 1927.210. – Inv. 1894.13 Lb. – Inv. 1905.5591. – Inv. 1917.72. – Inv. 1896.208. – Inv. 1913.561.h

Compulsory uniform dress for soldiers is a relatively recent phenomenon, of the C18. Until …

Plate mail jacket

Italy(?), 2nd half 15th century – Iron plates on canvas, riveted, remnants of red half silk – length 56 cm – Inv. 1874.102.

The mail jacket or brigantine consists of a system of tin coated iron plates overlapping …

Half suit of armour

Austria or South Germany, 1st half 17th century – Forged iron, riveted, cast brass, gilt – height 110 cm – Inv. 1874.108.

From the many pieces of armour that the Basle armoury donated to the Historisches Museum in …


Early 16th century – Iron embossed, riveted – height 50 cm, length 65 cm, width 40 cm – Inv. 1874.112.

The shaffron or headpiece, part of a horse's armour, is hammered from four iron plates and …


North Italy, ca. 1485/95 – Forged steel, riveted – height 24 cm – Inv.1874.29.

At the end of the C 14 a new form of helmet emerged and was in widespread use in the C15: …

Late Gothic crossbow with laminated horn bow

Switzerland or South Germany, ca. 1460 – Wood, bone, animal tendon, birch bark, hemp cord, leather, iron and horn – length of shaft 78.5 cm, length of bow 70 cm – Inv. 1990.370.

The crossbow was the most important long range weapon in the late Middle Ages. The …

Banner of the Zunft zu Weinleuten

(vintners' guild) Basle, ca. 1500 – Tempera on canvas – height 95 cm, width 95 cm – Inv. 1875.84

For centuries the 15 guilds, which were more exactly professional associations, exerted …

Model cannon, muzzle loading

Before 1675 – Bronze gilt, carriage of wood with enamelled plates – length of barrel 45.5 cm, calibre 15 mm – Inv. 1894.119.

The model cannon recalls an affair that turned out unpleasantly for Basle in the C17. It is …


Switzerland, 2nd half 16th century – Forged iron, etched – overall length 250 cm, length of point with blades 119 cm – Inv. 1903.139.

The victorious battles of the Swiss against the Habsburgs at Morgarten in 1315 and at …


dated 1514 Jörg von Guntheim, Basle – Cast bronze – length 493 cm, calibre 12.5 cm – Inv. 1874.94.

The gun is a work by the Strasbourg bell and gun founder Jörg von Guntheim of unique …

Hat of Liberty

Basel, ca. 1798 – Sheet metal, painted – L 100 x H 90 cm – Inv. 1894.38.

The laws passed at the time of the Reformation were still in force in 18th-century Basel. …

Gun barrel from the Burgundian Booty

Burgundy, Mons(?), 2nd quarter of 15th century – Wrought iron – L 273 cm, calibre 34.5 cm – Inv. 1874.93.

Not only did the Swiss defeat Charles the Bold of Burgundy at the battles of Grandson and …


Pratteln, Castle Madeln, pre-1356 – Iron, forged – Inv. 2007.474. – Deposit of Archäologie Baselland, Liestal

Knights enjoyed such high social standing that some of their weapons and equipment – such …

Coat of mail

Basel, 14th century – Iron and brass rings, welded and riveted – L 68 cm – Inv. 1874.104.

Hauberks made from a web of welded, riveted or punched wire rings were widely used as …

Halberd used by the Elector of Saxony’s Swiss Guard

Probably Saxony, ca. 1656–1680 – Iron and steel, forged, polished, etched and gold-plated, wood – L 217 cm, W 27 cm – Inv. 2002.4.

In 1656 the Elector John George II of Saxony instituted a Swiss Guard in the form of a …

Dress Sword of Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis

Place of origin unknown, ca. 1750 – Forged steel, polished, etched, cast and gilded bronze cup, fabric – Inv. 2014.147.

The French mathematician, geodesist, astronomer, and philosopher Pierre-Louis Moreau de …

Cannon on a Naval Gun Carriage

Burgundy, 15th cent. (barrel), Basel, 16th cent. (carriage) Bronze, wood – 98.5 cm (barrel) Old stock – Inv. 1905.4975.

A large haul of jewels and weapons fell into the hands of the Swiss at the battles of …

Cannon on a Naval Gun Carriage

Basel, 4th quarter 15th cent. (barrel), 16th cent. (carriage) Bronze, wood – 114 cm (barrel) Old stock – Inv. 1905.4974.

This octagonal bronze gun barrel was made in Basel, as is apparent from the Baselstab – …


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