100456 | GERMANY. Silver Medal or Siegespfennig ("Victory Penny").

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    100456 | GERMANY. Silver Medal or Siegespfennig ("Victory Penny"). Dated 1915. World War I series: #90—Capture of the Fortresses of Rozan and Pultusk by the Gallwitz Army (15mm, 1.31 g, 12h). By O. Oertel and promoted by R. Kube in Berlin.

     

    GOTT SEGNETE DIE VEREINIGTEN HEERE (God hath blessed our indivisible army), Victory flying left, holding wreath and sword / EINNAHME DER FESTUNGEN / ROZAN / UND / PULTUSK / D D ARMEE / GALLWITZ / 23 JUNI 1915 in seven lines. Edge: Plain.

     

    Zetzmann 1100 var. (clasped). Gem Mint State. Deeply toned, with brilliant luster and tremendous hues of electric cobalt, amber, and burnt sienna. Very rare this attractive and unclasped.

     

    Medals have long served a role in propaganda, promoting the views of one side or attacking those of another. Nowhere is this more prevalent than the first World War, during which numerous issues were produced and promoted—each with their own agenda. One such series, the Siegespfennige (“Victory Pennies”), was inspired by a similar series issued nearly 100 years prior and which commemorated the Wars of Liberation against Napoleon from 1813-1815.

     

    Each of these medals, like their predecessors, had a consistent obverse motif (an allegorical representation of Victory flying with a sword and wreath) and reverse composition (reference to a battle or event, along with its date and a serial number, adding to its collector angle). They were produced by Otto Oertel’s medal mint in Berlin, and subsequently promoted there by the coin dealer Rudolph Kube for the price of 0.75 Marks each, being released in various batches following significant and decisive victories in order to ensure public support and attention for the war effort. In total, 106 of these tiny medals (very similar in size and feel to a U.S. silver “trime” or 3 cent piece) were released, covering the events from August 1914 through September 1915. The largest portion of these pieces were produced for that very first month, while the output varied periodically, dipping during the spring of 1915 and picking up again in that fall, only to fade in popularity and be discontinued as the fatigue for the war increased. Intended to be clasped for inclusion with traditional folk costumes, they allowed their purchaser the chance to “wear” their patriotism. In the end, however, propaganda can only paint a picture, and seeing the death and destruction firsthand will eventually leave a more lasting, disillusioned impact—mirrored perfectly by their dwindling sales and appeal toward the end of 1915.

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