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102345 | GERMANY. Hamburg. Corruption of the Imperial Commission silver Medal.

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    102345  |  GERMANY. Hamburg. Satirical silver Medal. Issued circa 1708 or slightly thereafter. The supposed corruption of the imperial commission by the Jewish community (22.5mm, 6h). By an uncertain medallist, marked "T."


    DU SOLST NICHT GESCHENCK NEHMEN (thou shalt take no gift...), hand putting forth a coin; across the middle, banner reading KOMSTU MIR ALSO (if you'll scratch my back...) / DENN GESCHENKE MACHEN DIE SEHENDEN BLIND (...for a gift blindeth them that have sight, and perverteth the words of the righteous, –adapted from Exodus 23:8 [2nd Book of Moses]), bust facing slightly right, with hand nearly covering face, though with eyes peering through; τ on sleeve; across the middle, banner reading SO KOMME ICH DIR SO (...I'll scratch yours). [The underlined legends are meant to be read as a complete message, while the non-underlined legends are meant to be a separate complete message.]


    Cf. GPH 1220-1 (different medallist); Fieweger Coll. 345; cf. Vogel Coll. 8739 (gold). NGC AU-58. Fairly deeply toned, with a gunmetal gray nature and some hints of olive, along with darker hues nearer the peripheries; a few light marks in the obverse field are noted for completeness. Compare to a similar example (PCGS AU-53) from a different medalist (Wermuth) that realized a total of $660 in the Stack's Bowers 2021 NYINC auction, lot 23546.


    The city of Hamburg had a festering issue between its Senate and Citizens' Council in the late 17th century, with its local Jewish population a chief concern. Though a Sephardic Jewish population had much more long-standing roots in the city, the Ashkenazi population was, in contrast, much more recent and without actual legal status regarding its ability to reside there. The Citizens' Council—dominated by orthodox Protestants—along with the Lutheran clergy sought to block any concessions by the Senate to the Jewish populations, with the issue eventually escalating much higher within the hierarchy of the Holy Roman Empire.


    Emperor Joseph I appointed an imperial commission, led by Damian Hugo Philipp von Schönborn-Buchheim, to settle the dispute between the Senate and Citizens' Council in Hamburg. Ultimately, the commission redefined the legal relationships of the Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jewish populations in Hamburg, with the regulations becoming part of the new Hamburg constitution in 1712. It is quite likely that this satirical medal, along with the various others that share a common design and message, were meant to convey the idea that the Jewish citizenry had bribed the commission for recognition of their status, furthering an antisemitic viewpoint among the largely Protestant populace. Given the contemporary works of medallists like Christian Wermuth (who also contributed to this specific "series"), and his satirical issues like the "corn Jew," the concept of antisemitic medals would be completely within the context of the period, and seemingly a likely cause that would generate such a concerted medallic effort among numerous workshops. For more on this topic, please follow this link.


    Upload: 1 May 2023.


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