Bicorne of an Austrian Officer with Accompanying Hatbox

Malans, around 1880

For centuries mercenery service was an important branch of Graubünden’s economy. Young men served in France, Holland, Austria, Spain or Italy. Some patrician families from Graubünden practically specialized in the lucrative mercenary business. Among them was the von Sprecher family, whose members frequently reached the highest military ranks.

Although the Swiss federal State largely prohibited mercenary service as of 1859, many Graubünden troops remained in foreign service. Arthur Sprecher von Bernegg (1852‒1912), for example, who owned this bicorne, achieved the rank of general in Austrian service.