The name of the private bank dates back to the influential Notenstein guild or merchants’ association originating in the 15th century. The greyhound crest has adorned the bank’s head office, the “Nothveststein” house in St. Gallen, for generations.
By the mid-15th century, St. Gallen had become an important centre for the textile industry and demand throughout Europe for its principal export, fine linen, was bringing prosperity to the town.
The proprietors of the big linen production and export firms used to gather at a house called “zum Notenstein” in the Untere Neugasse to discuss business and socialise, and membership rolls for the Notenstein association are attested from 1466. Their economic and family ties assured them a considerable say in the development of the town and their most famous member was Joachim von Watt (1484 –1551), a reformer known as Vadianus, who went on to become mayor.
In 1555, the Notenstein association established its headquarters in a castellated house located on the site beside the Brühltor gate where Notenstein Private Bank now stands. The “Nothveststein” building would go on to become the economic hub of the town, housing both St. Gallen’s first chamber of commerce and its first post office.
The incursion of the French in 1798 and the demise of the old order also spelled the end for the rich traditions of the Notenstein merchants; the society was disbanded and the house sold to Hans Anton Zyli, the proprietor of the “Caspar Zyli” trading and export house that had been founded by his father in 1741. Active in the linen trade since the 14th century, the Zylis were an established Notenstein family whose members had provided the association with many chairmen. Hans Anton had the old meeting house demolished and in 1801–2 built “Nothveststein” on the same site, a residential and office building that is still standing today. The export company was wound up in the 1840s while the credit and loan business was combined with asset management and systematically expanded.“Nothveststein” is now the head office of the new Notenstein Private Bank, which was established in 2012 following its separation from Wegelin & Co.
Author: Rolf E. Kellenberg, archivist