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Armorial de Suisse
In Rot ein goldener Rechtsschrägbalken, belegt mit einem schreitenden schwarzen Bären mit roten Krallen.
The arms are canting (Bär = bear), and have been used since the 13th century. The oldest seal of the city dates from 1224 and shows already the bear, but not in a shield and not in a bend. The bear also appears on 13th century coins of the city (see below).
The oldest seal from 1224
The second seal (used until 1364)
The fourth seal used from the 14th-17th century
The fifth seal from 1364
The seventh seal from the late 14th century
The eights seal from 1467
The oldest coin of Bern.
The arms on a 1492 coin
The arms on a 1600 coin
The arms on a 1700 coin
The arms on a 1718 coin
The colours are known since the 14th century, and the arms have never changed since. The arms are also used by the district of Bern and the Canton Bern. To distinguish the arms the canton often uses a floral crown, the city uses a mural crown.
The oldest known description of the arms of Bern dates from the Guglerlied from 1375 :
Berner waffen ist so schnell
mit drin gevarwten strichen;
der ein ist rot, der mittel gel,
darin stat unverblichen
ein ber gar swarz gemalet wol,
rot sind ihn die clawen;
er ist swerzer denn ein kol,
bris er bejagen sol.
(freely translated as : the arms of Bern are so fast, with three painted stripes, the one is red, the middle yellow, in which stands a black bear, with red claws, blacker than a coal, until the hunting begins).
Variations of the arms in the Kaffee Hag albums 1914-1960
The arms in a 16th century manuscript
Seal from around 1900
The arms as used by the city during the years
The arms in the Abadie albums
The arms in a 1930s album
The arms in the Wappen-Sammlung (1900)
The arms on a collectable stamp, +/- 1920
Municipal stationery, 1960s
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Literature : Wappenbuch des Kantons Bern, 1981. Main image by Massimo Ghirardi; Dreyer, 2001