I Gave Gold for Iron

I Gave Gold for Iron: The Great War through the Medium of the Medal

March 21, 2014–September 3, 2015

“Medals and coins provide a direct, flowing commentary on WWI – the first great German and European catastrophe of the 20th century. The phenomenon of Notgeld (emergency currency) was particular to Germany and Austria, when many municipalities and even companies started printing ersatz notes to make up for the lack of small-denomination coins. While the printing of Notgeld was a reflection of serious metal shortages, the artist editions of Great War medals and the elaborate designs on the scores of Notgeld notes were a sign of ‘patriotic  luxury’. The change in values also found expression in the new choice of subjects adopted in the medium of the medal. Never before in the history of medallic art was such an exceptional array of fine-art medals produced (including many by young modern artists) as in these four years. 

The edition initiated by the numismatic society ‘Freunde der Deutschen Schaumünze’ (featured in a 1998 research publication) is going on display for the first time, along with other selected fine-art medals from the period. The exhibition also includes a view from outside the German Empire and features examples of medals from the Allies. The reception of the First World War in Germany is traced up to a new medal edition ‘1914-2014’. The exhibition mainly features objects from the Berlin Münzkabinett’s own collection. Loans are provided by the American Numismatic Society (New York).”


Bronze Medal of French Third Republic, 1920, 0000.999.52098