Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Gildwiller1918

Lusitania Medal

Recommended Posts

The sinking of the Cunard ocean liner RMS Lusitania occurred on Friday, 7 May 1915 during the First World War, as Germany waged submarine warfare against the United Kingdom which had implemented a naval blockade of Germany. The ship was identified and torpedoed by the German U-boat U-20 and sank in 18 minutes, and also took on a heavy starboard list. The vessel went down 11 miles (18 km) off the Old Head of Kinsale, Ireland, killing 1,198 and leaving 761 survivors. The sinking turned public opinion in many countries against Germany, contributed to the American entry into World War I and became an iconic symbol in military recruiting campaigns of why the war was being fought.

Lusitania fell victim to torpedo attack relatively early in the First World War, before tactics for evading submarines were properly implemented or understood. The contemporary investigations in both the United Kingdom and the United States into the precise causes of the ship's loss were obstructed by the needs of wartime secrecy and a propaganda campaign to ensure all blame fell upon Germany. Argument over whether the ship was a legitimate military target raged back and forth throughout the war as both sides made misleading claims about the ship. At the time she was sunk, she was carrying over 4 million rounds of small-arms ammunition (.303 caliber), almost 5,000 shrapnel shell casings (for a total of some 50 tons), and 3,240 brass percussion fuses, in addition to 1,266 passengers and a crew of 696. Several attempts have been made over the years since the sinking to dive to the wreck seeking information about precisely how the ship sank, and the controversy continues to the present day.

Shortly after the event a commemorative medallion was struck by the Germans. Believed to have originated in Munich the medal was cast in iron and was 2.25 inches in diameter and weighed 1.5 ounces. The designer was Karl Goetz, creator of many medallions, and the initials K.G. are clearly visible on the obverse.

On the obverse, under the inscription “No contraband” (Keine Bannware), there is a representation of the Lusitania sinking. The outline of the liner has been altered to resemble a warship. The designer has also put and aeroplanes, which (as was certified by United States Government officials after inspection) the Lusitania did not carry, but has conveniently omitted to put in the women and children who were on board. On the reverse, under the inscription “Business above all” (Geschaft uber alles), a smiling skeleton at the New York booking office of the Cunard Line is depicted. A line of waiting potential passengers and victims refuse to attend to the warning against submarines, given by a German figure in the background. The figure, presumably the German Ambassador, gazes approvingly on the whole proceedings.

There are, however, certain anomalies which have always caused considerable speculation. The arrogant manner in which the victory is proclaimed in the inscription. The liner Lusitania, sunk by German submarine 5th May, 1915, provides perhaps the most obvious example – as in actual fact the sinking occurred on 7 May. The discrepancy in date may have been a genuine error but it was interpreted as a being a clear indication that the sinking was pre-planned – and not just one of the fortunes of war. The propagandists made the most of it.

Many of the British copies are readily found today. As for the German version these are rarer and more valuable. There are several small differences between the two types. The most obvious being in the spelling of the word “May” in the date. On the German version this is spelt “Mai”. There is also an American version, Sandstrom and Mahood of Pennsylvania created their own copy of the medal and sold it along with their own version of the box and propaganda leaflet similar to the British. With several obvious differences in appearance, they sold along with the box and leaflet for fifty cents apiece, three for a dollar, or a dozen for three dollars.

The one listed below is the British Version with the box that it came with, which are not that uncommon. I picked this up years ago when I lived in England. An interesting piece, to be sure, and ironic that this medal served both belligerents as a propaganda tool.

IMG_2215.JPG

IMG_2217.JPG

IMG_2218.JPG

IMG_2219.JPG

IMG_2220.JPG

IMG_2221.JPG

IMG_2222.JPG

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had one of these many years ago. They are not too rare, but rare to find with original carton and printed label.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, not very rare, but like you said with the box it can be, figured I would get one while they were still around at a decent price. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...