Tuesday, June 26, 2012

La Nuit de L'Escalade

On December 11th 1602, the forces of the Duke of Savoy launched an attack on the wealthy city-state of Geneva, one he had coveted for years. The troops marched along the Arve River at night and assembled at Plainpalais, just outside the city walls. At 2 o'clock in the morning they started their attack. The original plan was to send in a group of commandos to open the gate door, but the night guard Isaac Mercier raised the alarm, church bells were rung, and the Genevois awoke to save their city. The largest part of the Savoyard fighting force tried to scale the city walls with their black ladders but were repelled. The populace fought alongside the town militia and the Duke's 2000-plus mercenaries were repelled. After the defeat, the Duke of Savoy was obliged to accept a lasting peace, sealed by the Treaty of St. Julien, signed July 12, 1603.

Most of the books in our library have specific family significance, but some are important because of the region of Switzerland they come from. La Nuit de L'Escalade is just such a book. The book was published by ATAR (Ateliers Artistiques) in Geneva and penned by Alex Guillot. It has letterpress pages and beautifully reproduced color illustrations done by E. Elzingre. During my almost three years in Geneva I remember celebrating the Fête de L'Escalade a number of times and feel lucky to have such a beautiful family heirloom that celebrates its significance.

I have included below a representative page and illustrations from the 1915 ATAR edition. Enjoy.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Voyages en zigzag

In looking through some family books I found a large tome bound in green leather, its spine replete with ornate gold filigree. Inside its yellowing pages are beautiful engravings of the Alps in addition to many that document everyday 19th century life.

Voyages en zigzag : ou, Excursions d'un pensionnat en vacances dans les cantons suisses et sur le revers italien des Alpes, chronicles the voyages of a school teacher and his boarding school students on a number of 19th century voyages through Switzerland and Northern Italy. It is the first in a series written by Rodolphe Töpffer, a Swiss teacher, author, painter, cartoonist, and caricature artist. He is also considered to be the first modern comic creator.

Of its many beautiful examples I have scanned a small set of the engravings I found most interesting.

La Tour du Lépreux, Près d'Aoste

Le Simplon, entre Isella et Gondo


Rive de Meillerie


Le Roc perché

Voyages en zigzag was originally in the library of my great-great-great-grandfather, Edmond Alexandre de Freudenreich at the Château of Monnaz (VD) in Western Switzerland and was owned most recently by my great-aunt, Natalie de Büren.

On an interesting historical note, it appears that Töpffer's two travel volumes were the inspiration for American author and poet Hezekiah Butterworth's twelve volume Zig-Zag Journeys published in the 1870s.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Family Crest Through Time

As a graphic designer who specializes in developing corporate identity and brand systems, a consistent application of a visual identity is key for recognition and longevity. The same can be said for heraldry.

Brand success is determined in a couple of years. What about a family brand with over four centuries of visual examples?

I thought it would be interesting to gather a sample set showcasing the de Büren family crest in myriad heraldric applications over the centuries. The examples include metal castings, stonework, woodwork, ink, oils, engravings, ceramics, stained glass, textiles and a wax seal impression.

While every example shows creative license, there is no doubt that the key elements that make the de Büren family crest unique have been handled with care over time. Enjoy.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

Today I want to acknowledge all the de Büren men who came before me.

Their lives show me the importance of family, responsibility and living with a sense of purpose. They also have given me a broad epicurean palette and deep love of art. I want to thank them for giving me a strong foundation by which I have been able to guide my own destiny.

Happy Father’s Day.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Around the World in Forty Blogs

To my utter amazement and delight I have learned that the de Büren Family blog, a labor of love for countless years, has been acknowledged as one of the top 40 genealogy blogs for 2012 by Family Tree Magazine.

"We chose these blogs based on their overall quality of content and design, potential interest to other researchers, and relatively current status."

I assumed that my blog would have been placed under a Swiss header, but was pleased to see it under a special category called Winding Roads, dedicated to broader storytelling.

"Don’t limit yourself to reading blogs that cover strictly your ancestral land. Some blogs wander through several countries as they follow a family’s journeys. The de Büren Family, for example, traces an 800-year trail through Switzerland, Argentina, Brazil, England, France and the United States."

I am deeply honored by my selection and gratified that others find my family narrative as compelling as I do. Merci.


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