A German Columbian Exposition Medal, 1893

By The American Numismatic Society

The unaccountable lack of decent internet access at the annual World’s Fair of Money has prevented us from posting more this week, but as we wrap things up here, I did want to highlight one particularly spectacular piece of Chicagoiana. This is a copper electrotype of a very large (114 mm) medal that was designed by Fritz Koenig and struck by the Nürnberg firm Ludwig Christoph Lauer. The die is supposed to have broken after just a few medals were stuck and it is not listed in Nathan Eglit’s catalogue of Columbiana.

ANS, 0000.999.57146

ANS, 0000.999.57146

The obverse depicts a reclining female figure we suppose represents America (Columbia?) holding a U.S. shield. A heraldic eagle flies above, and behind is the famed Administration Building, which exemplified the neoclassical style of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. By far the more impressive side of the medal is the reverse, which depicts a bird’s-eye view of the grounds. The Rand McNally publishing company of Chicago printed a popular view of the same, although differences with Koenig’s design suggest that he copied from a different source.

Library of Congress

Library of Congress

Whatever the case, it is a truly fine example of craftsmanship. Of course the intricate high-relief design is likely what led to the breakdown in production, but if you click to enlarge the image below, you will be able to see its outstanding detail.


And with that, we’ll just say thank you to everyone who stopped by the American Numismatic Society’s table in Chicago!

I would also like to thank the Numismatic Literary Guild for giving Pocket Change its annual award for “Best Blog.” It is a heartening award for this relatively new endeavor and we look forward to expanding and improving our content moving forward.

NLG award

Matthew Wittmann