Christoph Merian

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Christoph Merian.

Christoph Merian (22 January 1800 – 22 August 1858) was a banker and businessman.

He was the owner of a large estate, agriculturist and rentier. He was one of the richest Swiss men of that time. He was honorary citizen of Münchenstein (1854) and the canton of Basel-Country (1855) and the founder of the Christoph Merian Stiftung.[1]


Christoph Merian stemmed from the Merian family, one of the most distinguished aristocrat families in Basel. He was the son of Christoph Merian senior (1769–1849) and Valeria Hoffmann (1773–1834) and married in 1824 to Margarethe Burckhardt (1806–1886) from Basel. His father, Christoph Merian senior, was a merchant who started with handling raw cotton, later with shipping/transport, banking and various speculative businesses. Christoph Merian senior ended his venturous businesses in 1810 and subsequently invested in the industry and banking activities.

Christoph Merian was educated in Basel. He served his apprenticeship as banker. He also visited the "Landwirtschaftliches Institut Hofwil" (agricultural institute of Hofwil) near Berne and the "Landwirtschaftliche Akademie" (agricultural academy) in Hohenheim by Stuttgart. His education as an Agronomist was concluded in England and France.

He lived as a banker, businessman and agriculturist on the farming estate of Brüglingen in Münchenstein near Basel. He achieved large financial gains with his firm "Frères Merian" in by-passing the Napoleonic Continental System. In 1824 he married Margarethe Burckhardt, the daughter of an industrial. As a wedding present, they received the country estate in Brüglingen and the country house Villa Merian.

Today, he is remembered mainly for founding the Christoph Merian Stiftung, a highly visible non-profit entity that continues to support social, cultural, ecological and economic projects to the benefit of the general population in the Basel region to this day. As of 2006, its worth was 289 Million Swiss Francs, in addition to the 900 ha of land it owns. The institution was founded in Christoph Merian's Testament (dated 26.03.1857), in which he made an endowment/beneficence to the city of Basel. This came into legal effect when his widow Margaretha (1806-1886) died on 3 May 1886.


  1. ^ Leitbild der Christoph Merian Stiftung, 2007, S. 4.


  • Gustav Adolf Wanner: Christoph Merian, Basel, 1958
  • Rudolf Suter: Die Christoph Merian Stiftung, Basel, 1986

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