Secessionist Medals

Secessionist Artists - WWI 1914 -1918 => August Gaul => Topic started by: Rabenauge on November 08, 2019, 03:01:03 AM

Title: Red Cross / raven with ring
Post by: Rabenauge on November 08, 2019, 03:01:03 AM

August Gaul.  1916.  1914 / 1915 / 1916 (obverse), FÜR / TREVE / ARBEIT / DAS / ROTE・KREVZ / MERSEBVRG / ✚ (for loyal service - the Red Cross Merseburg - reverse).  Cast iron, blackened, integral suspension loop, 43 x 35 mm, 17.88 g.  Vorzüglich (extra-fine), blackening somewhat irregular.

Obverse: raven in profile to right carrying a ring in its beak; three-line inscription year dates upper center to center left; artist's signature G A U L lower right; beaded border, raised rim.  Reverse: six-line title inscription over Greek cross engraved with vertical lines (=heraldic color red); raised rim.

Cf: Schemeit, Manfred.  1989.  Ehrenzeichen Deutsches Rotes Kreuz 1866 - jetzt, p. 133: no. 226; p. 230 (example w/ original ribbon).

Despite August Gaul's reputation as a Tierbildhauer or animalier, the bird image on the medal looks too long-legged and slender for a raven.  Nevertheless that is the bird intended, for the image of a raven carrying a ring is associated with the City of Merseburg.  Until the Protestant Reformation, Merseburg was ruled by a succession of bishops, the most famous of whom was Thilo von Trotha (1443–1514).  Legend has it that the bishop accused a servant of stealing one of his rings and had the man executed.  Years later, when the palace roof was being repaired, a raven's nest containing the missing ring was discovered (ravens, like magpies, are proverbial thieves of glittering objects).  In atonement and as a reminder of his fatal hasty injustice, the bishop ordered construction in the courtyard of a raven cage, which has since then occasionally housed captive ravens.

In addition to the legendary connection to Merseburg, a raven carrying a ring reinforces the idea of surrendering valuable jewelry to aid the war effort or Red Cross charity work ("Gold gab ich für Eisen").  This medalet thus compliments Gaul's larger Red Cross medal, which exhorts donors to imitate the diligence of bees and ants in finding and providing even the smallest sums for wartime charity work.