Author Topic: Zinc-tin copies of Ludwig Gies medals  (Read 100 times)

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  • Collectors of Secessionist medals, especially those of Ludwig Gies, should be aware that from time to time fakes (perhaps more charitably labeled "after-casts") appear on the market.  Some of those are honestly and accurately labeled as such by dealer, but some dealers, perhaps through lack of experience rather than downright dishonesty, may market them as original casts.

    To the experienced and well-researched eye, these medals are easily identified by their grey-green patina resulting from their being cast in a zinc-tin alloy (sometimes labeled Zinkal in German).  But to someone less familiar, the fine quality of the casts and finishing may be deceiving and encourage hopeful speculation that he/she has discovered a heretofore unrecorded variant.



    Over the past year (2019), I purchased three such casts, well aware that they were not genuine, for purposes of comparison and to further research their origin in hopes of passing on that information to fellow collectors.  Images of the three examples accompany this article.  Two of the casts were purchased from an eBay seller who honestly described them as after-casts, following descriptions from older Heinrich Winter Münzenhandlung auction catalogs where they had first been offered.  The third cast was obtained from a reputable dealer who honestly believed - until I presented contrary evidence - that it was a genuine Ludwig Gies medal.


    The two examples originally at auction by Heinrich Winter were described in catalogs (2009/2011) as after-casts of Ludwig Gies medals by the Austrian medallist Rudolf Schmidt, well-known for producing medals of his own design in zinc-tin alloy.  The dealer from whom I got the third cast suggested that perhaps it was a trial pre-production cast made for Gies by the foundry and mint Carl Poellath in Schrobenhausen, Bavaria, which produced work for many German medallists, including Gies.


    Curious to learn more, I contacted Achim Feldmann, a medal researcher in Munich, best known for his masterful three-part monograph of the medallist and sculptor Karl May.  Herr Feldmann was generously unstinting with his time and resources in response to my questions, consulting colleagues on my behalf in Munich as well as in Vienna, one of whom is preparing a monograph on Rudolf Schmidt. 

    His findings may be summarized as follows: Rudolf Schmidt did not produce these casts.  Schmidt was a successful medalist in his own right who would have had no reason to duplicate anyone else's work, and there is no evidence in his records or remaining material to link him to such casts.  The mis-attribution was likely the result of these pieces being mixed in with examples of Schmidt's work in consignments of medals from Austria delivered to the Heinrich Winter auction house.  The zinc alloy of these medals does lead Herr Feldmann and his colleagues to believe that the medals did originate in Austria, most likely in Vienna.  They were dismissive of the suggestion that the medals might have been trial casts from Poellath.  Research in the Poellath archives indicates no such material was ever used there.  Trial casts were likely made in bronze, and if unsatisfactory, would simply have been melted down and thus reused.  Herr Feldmann referred to these casts as outright forgeries (Fälschungen)!

    Readers desiring more details, including transcripts and/or translations of correspondence may contact me directly.

    Gies' medals are not the only subjects of such forgeries.  I have seen three other zinc-tin copies of designs from the work of other Munich medallists: one by Maximilian Dasio, one by Bernhard Bleeker, and one by Hermann Hahn.  In short, I would recommend collectors be suspicious of any zinc-tin cast of designs other than those signed by Rudolf Schmidt.
Zinc-tin copies of Ludwig Gies medals
« on: November 23, 2019, 05:00:58 PM »
Collectors of Secessionist medals, especially those of Ludwig Gies, should be aware that from time to time fakes (perhaps more charitably labeled "after-casts") appear on the market.  Some of those are honestly and accurately labeled as such by dealer, but some dealers, perhaps through lack of experience rather than downright dishonesty, may market them as original casts.

To the experienced and well-researched eye, these medals are easily identified by their grey-green patina resulting from their being cast in a zinc-tin alloy (sometimes labeled Zinkal in German).  But to someone less familiar, the fine quality of the casts and finishing may be deceiving and encourage hopeful speculation that he/she has discovered a heretofore unrecorded variant.



Over the past year (2019), I purchased three such casts, well aware that they were not genuine, for purposes of comparison and to further research their origin in hopes of passing on that information to fellow collectors.  Images of the three examples accompany this article.  Two of the casts were purchased from an eBay seller who honestly described them as after-casts, following descriptions from older Heinrich Winter Münzenhandlung auction catalogs where they had first been offered.  The third cast was obtained from a reputable dealer who honestly believed - until I presented contrary evidence - that it was a genuine Ludwig Gies medal.


The two examples originally at auction by Heinrich Winter were described in catalogs (2009/2011) as after-casts of Ludwig Gies medals by the Austrian medallist Rudolf Schmidt, well-known for producing medals of his own design in zinc-tin alloy.  The dealer from whom I got the third cast suggested that perhaps it was a trial pre-production cast made for Gies by the foundry and mint Carl Poellath in Schrobenhausen, Bavaria, which produced work for many German medallists, including Gies.


Curious to learn more, I contacted Achim Feldmann, a medal researcher in Munich, best known for his masterful three-part monograph of the medallist and sculptor Karl May.  Herr Feldmann was generously unstinting with his time and resources in response to my questions, consulting colleagues on my behalf in Munich as well as in Vienna, one of whom is preparing a monograph on Rudolf Schmidt. 

His findings may be summarized as follows: Rudolf Schmidt did not produce these casts.  Schmidt was a successful medalist in his own right who would have had no reason to duplicate anyone else's work, and there is no evidence in his records or remaining material to link him to such casts.  The mis-attribution was likely the result of these pieces being mixed in with examples of Schmidt's work in consignments of medals from Austria delivered to the Heinrich Winter auction house.  The zinc alloy of these medals does lead Herr Feldmann and his colleagues to believe that the medals did originate in Austria, most likely in Vienna.  They were dismissive of the suggestion that the medals might have been trial casts from Poellath.  Research in the Poellath archives indicates no such material was ever used there.  Trial casts were likely made in bronze, and if unsatisfactory, would simply have been melted down and thus reused.  Herr Feldmann referred to these casts as outright forgeries (Fälschungen)!

Readers desiring more details, including transcripts and/or translations of correspondence may contact me directly.

Gies' medals are not the only subjects of such forgeries.  I have seen three other zinc-tin copies of designs from the work of other Munich medallists: one by Maximilian Dasio, one by Bernhard Bleeker, and one by Hermann Hahn.  In short, I would recommend collectors be suspicious of any zinc-tin cast of designs other than those signed by Rudolf Schmidt.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2019, 03:12:29 AM by Rabenauge »