My father gave me this 1916 Irish medal. It measures about 2¾
inches in diameter and I think it’s copper or bronze.
Can you tell me anything about this medal? Who made it? My father
told me it was rare.
Palos Hills, Ill.
The medal in question appears to be the work of German medalist
Walter (or Walther) Eberbach, though its authenticity would have to be
affirmed in person by a reliable medals expert.
Similar to the works of the more notable and prolific German
medalist Karl Goetz, Eberbach’s series of at least 12 satiric medals
were also produced during World War I, mocking various Allied leaders
Vol. 7 of Leonard Forrer’s Biographical Dictionary of Medallists
makes some mention of the engraver and series, but M. Frankenhuis, in
his book Catalogue of Medals, Medalets and Plaques Relative to the
World War, 1914-1919, provides a more complete tally of the series
dubbed “Totentanz” or “Dance of the Dead.”
On this particular medal, the target of scorn is British Gen. Sir
John Maxwell and his brutal role in crushing Ireland’s Easter
Rebellion in 1916.
The obverse of the medal portrays a skeleton wearing a pillbox
hat, smoking a pipe and holding a bouquet of flowers. It sits upon a
gravestone which reads HOME RULE R.I.P. Eberbach’s name is at the
lower right along the medal’s rim.
The legend on the obverse reads MAISTRAUSS VON DER GRUENEN INSEL
1916, which loosely translates in English to “May (flower) bouquet of
the Green Island 1916.”
The reverse features an Irish harp interposed with a shovel
depicting the British royal arms on its blade. Above the harp appears
the German legend DEM GENERAL MAXWELL DEM TOTENGRÄBER IRLANDS (“Gen.
Maxwell, the gravedigger of Ireland”).
The degree of rarity of Mr. Maloney’s piece is a question not
easily answered. “Readers Ask” was unable to pin down any definitive
numbers, neither of how many were produced in any given composition
nor any estimate of how many may still survive today.
However, David T. Alexander, senior numismatist at Heritage
Auctions, states that the bronze version is rarer than the more
available cast iron medal “though none of Eberbach’s medals can be
“Iron came in with the metal shortages early in World War I,”
Alexander says. “We also see this with the medals of Karl Goetz.”
If proven to be authentic, Alexander estimates the value of
Maloney’s medal as “anywhere from $300 to $650.”
Coin World’s Readers Ask department does not accept coins
or other items for examination without prior permission from staff
member Erik Martin. Readers Ask also does not examine error or variety
coins. Materials sent to Readers Ask without prior permission will be
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