100822 | GERMANY, GREAT BRITAIN & UNITED STATES. Satirical cast iron Medal.

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    100822 | GERMANY, GREAT BRITAIN & UNITED STATES. Satirical cast iron Medal. Issued 1916. Totentanz (Dance of Death) series: The Sinking of the RMS Lusitania (69mm, 68.32 g, 12h). By W. Eberbach.

     

    HEIMTÜCKE • U • GEWARNTER • LEICHTSINN • AN • BORD • D • LUSITANIA (malice and forewarned recklessness on board the Lusitania), Death (as a skeleton) standing over the sinking Lusitania in taunting stance / DEM / VERÄCHTER / DER • WARNUNG / WOODROW / WILSON / 1916 (to the despiser of warnings, Woodrow Wilson) in six lines within scalloped polylobe. Edge: DS 105 89 and a few marks as made; otherwise plain.

     

    The Art of Devastation, p. 264, 60; Frankenhuis 1497. Choice Mint State. Pleasing charcoal gray surfaces, with some lighter highlights; a few light marks.

     

    Similar to the satirical medallic issues of Karl Goetz, Walther Eberbach was inspired by the events of World War I to create a series of rather morbid medals to propagandize the German war effort. The theme upon which he decided to focus was the Totentanz, or "Dance of Death." This series of issues, a divergence from the ephemeral topic of vanitas, portrayed Death as a skeleton, quite gleefully taking joy in the demise of his enemies—the allied powers—rather than a subtle reflection upon life and death. This frank morbidity is expressed by Eberbach himself in a letter to Julius Menadier, in which he writes "...I want whoever holds the pieces in their hands years later to be overcome by the shudder grimness." It's safe to say that, in this desire, Eberbach was astoundingly successful.

     

    This haunting piece recounts the sinking of the Lusitania from the German perspective, denying their responsibility and instead placing it upon U.S. president Woodrow Wilson. The contents on board (referenced on the obverse) are an allusion to the munitions which the Lusitania was secretly carrying—a violation of the warnings issued in February 1915.

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