Swiss Cowbell

My husband and I will be in Geneva for two days in late August on our way to Annecy and Chamonix and I would like to purchase a real "Cowbell"! I do not want a souvenir one, but one that has actually been used. Any suggestions as to where I may be able to purchase one?
Also would I be able to maybe find one in either Annecy or Chamonix area?

Posted by Jane
Lebanon
605 posts

Look in a hardware store as opposed to a souvenir store or if you want an old one...an antique store.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9131 posts

Geneva isn't cow country. You will more likely find something like that in Chamonix. You might want to ask a farmer if he's willing to sell one.

Posted by Mary
Toronto, Canada
41 posts

Tom, Thank you so much for the suggestion of asking a farmer, I would never have thought to do that! For sure I am willing to give it a try. I really want to bring a cowbell home to Canada that has been on a Swiss cow.
Not sure I would get a used one in a hardware store. Or am I incorrect?

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
969 posts

Mary, what are you planning to do with the bell on the rest of your trip or will you ship it home? The ones actually used on the cows are rather large.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9131 posts

"I really want to bring a cowbell home to Canada that has been on a Swiss cow." As I implied earlier, substitute "Alpine cow" for "Swiss", because if Geneva is your only Swiss destination, you're about as likely to see cows there as you would in downtown Toronto. And generally, these bells are only used in Alpine pastures, not in the relatively enclosed pastures you would find in the rest of the country.

Posted by Judy
Adelaide, SA, Australia
802 posts

Go stay at the Ibis Hotel in Zurich. We had the pleasure of hearing the sound of Swiss cow bells in the heart of Zurich, much to our surprise!! There was a fairly large fenced off grass area adjacent to the hotel, which was home to about half a dozen cows.

Posted by Mary
Toronto, Canada
41 posts

Thanks for all your advice. We are just flying in to Geneva and spending two days before driving to Annecy and Chamonix,then on to Nice, but may take a side trip to Martigny for a day.
I can ship home by post from Nice as we will have a car until then. Has anyone used the mail service? Did your package arrive okay? I have read some not so successful stories.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8757 posts

Mary, I agree with Tom. I think that your chances of finding your Swiss cow used real cowbell in Geneva are very low, and any you find in France will, of course, be from French, not Swiss cows. But there may be a way. If money is of no object, and if you are staying in a 5 or 6 star hotel in Geneva maybe communicating with the concierge as soon as you can to give her/him as much time as possible - maybe they could make enquiries and find such a thing. Swiss hoteliers at the top end are renowned. Alternatively, there is an antique/junk shop at the top of the Brunig Pass between Brienz and Luzern. They always have all sorts of odd stuff outside, and I'm sure that they have even more inside. The provenance I can't speak to. Perhaps you could locate them and make enquiries.

Posted by John
Moss Beach, California, United States
5 posts

Mary, There's cowbells and there's cowbells. Most, if not all, sound differently. Sleeping with the windows open in the alps is wonderful do to that "music"!
We purchased our bell and leather belt at a foundry we happened upon in northern Italy during a stop (many years ago, do not remember the town... sorry). They sell bells to farmers and farmers' suppliers in several surrounding countries. It was not used, but we were able to select the one we thought had the most pleasing sound... it's hanging in the house, we have no cows ;-)

Posted by Brenda
Jasper
91 posts

LOVE the idea of a cowbell! I might have to get one myself as a reminder of going to "cheese country" in Normandy and the Netherlands. One place I like to shop when I travel is in local hardware stores. I've found some really neat and unusual items, and invariably at better prices than in the touristy areas because they primarily serve the locals.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8757 posts

If you post it, or UPS it or DHL it or Fedex it, will there be somebody there to receive it? We have had posts on this board of people losing things because there was nobody there to receive a package. Remember that the non-tourist ones will be pretty heavy. The lower the sound produced = the bigger the bell = the better the milk producer. The best producing cow gets the biggest bell. You may also need to talk to your bank manager to get a loan for the cost of the shipping.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9131 posts

Another thought... after scrolling through some of my old pictures, I found several pictures of grazing cows that I took throughout the Alps- Oberstdorf, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Lech am Alberg, Flumserberg and Berchtesgaden. All of the cows were wearing bells that look something like this. Is that what you're looking for, or the more evocative type seen here? Reason... the former are relatively cheap and can be mass produced. The latter are generally heirlooms or specially crafted. Although you may find the second type for sale at an antique shop or auction, I doubt an active farmer will part with one for anything but a very large sum of money.

Posted by Mary
Toronto, Canada
41 posts

Hi Tom, I'm afraid I am after the latter!!!! I know it will not be inexpensive but still holding out hope. I loved your idea of the farmer, now I am feeling broken hearted. Haha!!!!! For sure I will not give up my hope, but may have to settle for what I can find, and please keep the ideas coming.
Thanks, Mary

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9131 posts

Well, the latter is actually quite easy to find for sale... at souvenir stores, and likely has never approached within 100m of an actual cow. But that brings us back full circle, doesn't it?

Posted by Marcus
Kansas City, United States
206 posts

Any good antique store should have them or can send you to one that does have them. Unfortunately, the number of farmers in Switzerland is decreasing every year so the odds of finding a real one are very good. As to size, the most common size is about 3-4" in diameter and length. In most cases the really large bells are reserved for the "queen" cow or for ceremonial purposes. The latter are very expensive and often precious to the family.

Posted by Mary
Toronto, Canada
41 posts

I think you my have mistsken my reply, and I am wanting the large one on your you tube attachment. Not just a regular bell. For sure I will look everywhere everyone has suggested and let you know how I make out. We are arriving in Geneva late August and though Annecy and Chamonix early september. Please keep the suggestions coming.
Thanks everyone!

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8757 posts

Mary, I wish you success in your quest. Can you come back here after your trip and let us know how it went?

Posted by Anita
Long Beach, California, USA
569 posts

I am in Switzerland right now and there are plenty of cows with bells on!
As far as where to buy one, a relative of mine was here recently as well and she found one to purchase at a farm sale. Maybe ask your hotel concierge where you might find information about this? Good luck and let us know how you fare!

Posted by Dennis
Redmond, WA
284 posts

Our son-in-law in Zurich has one. Children in villages have an annual parade with them. A wonderful Swiss children's book can be obtained in English - A Bell for Ursli, telling about a Swiss boy trying to get one for the parade. It would add some fun to your bell (hoping you find one). I saw some authentic ones for sale in small villages (we spend a lot of time hiking and in small villages with our daughter) but they were really, really expensive for big ones. The big ones must weigh about 30 pounds and you couldn't fit one in a suitcase.
Make sure you use Google to check out how Swiss cows choose who leads the herd - a pushing contest. I recommend the method to my sixth grade girls (I'm a teacher) as a better way than their verbal drama to determine the top girl (which they're going to do no matter what you do).

Posted by Mary
Toronto, Canada
41 posts

Hi everyone, Thanks for all the suggestions. For sure I will post a note on how I make out!!!!
Mary

Posted by Mary
Toronto, Canada
41 posts

How did you know I needed a good laugh today???????
Thanks for the smile:)

Posted by Anita
Long Beach, California, USA
569 posts

HI Mary...I was in Zermatt today. I know it's out of your way but if you want a great cow bell ion I came across an antique shop by the river that has tons of old ones and I remembered this post from a few days back. Prices start at about 120CHF and go up over 1000CHF but they are beautiful! If you want to take an extra day, see the Matterhorn, and pick up a great souvenir, then this might fit the bill!

Posted by Mary
Toronto, Canada
41 posts

Anita, Thank you so much for remembering my post!!! Not sure about us getting to Zermatt, but you give me great hope about finding one. For sure I will check antique stores and if time allows maybe we can make it the side trip to the Matterhorn.
Hope you are having a good trip. Mary

Posted by Terry
Rochelle, IL
262 posts

Mary, I bought one bell at a flea market in Montreux...at the time it was about 50 fr.....I have seen them more expensive, and less expensive. I also have a sheep bell from Switzerland. I have seen them in antique stores in Zurich as well. I love the sound...wish I could find a windchime that mimics the sound of cows in a meadow....sigh.......

Posted by Mary
Toronto, Canada
41 posts

Hi everyone, Wanted to let everyone who helped me with suggestions about my purchasing a "cowbell"------SUCCESS !!!!!!! I have my beautiful Swiss Cowbell to take back to Toronto with me. Found several at the Market here in Geneva. Thank you so much for all the help,
Mary

Posted by Sean
New York
148 posts

I do not want a souvenir one, but one that has actually been used." You mean one with fleas on it?

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7976 posts

Cows, horses, and other large animals don't have fleas. In rare cases calves do.

Posted by Sean
New York
148 posts

LOL Ed, your expertise ranges from to sailing to farming.

Posted by Edgar
Medford, OR, USA
249 posts

You may be OK returning the cow bell to Canada but if you check the "been on a farm/ranch/pasture" box on reentering the USA, US immigration will have some extra questions for you. We had to have our boots disinfected.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7976 posts

' Found several at the Market here in Geneva.'

Posted by Anita
Long Beach, California, USA
569 posts

So glad you found one! Wish you could post pics on this site! :)

Posted by Dave
Ventura, CA, USA
169 posts

Who is "Cowbell Dude', Michael? That would appear to be sooo 70"s but I can't place the face.