World Coins

Medals are thematic, artistic complements to coins

Though headlines about the hobby often focus on coins — and expensive ones at that — numismatics is much broader than numismatic coins and bullion issues, and partaking doesn’t always require breaking the bank. 

Medals offer many of the artistic and metallic merits of coins, but are often more affordable. Just as with coins, they can be collected thematically, and in some cases may have been designed by artists who also designed coins. 

Two unassuming lots in Emporium Hamburg’s Nov. 17 and 18 auction provide a kick-start to what could be a thematic collection of equine medals. 

The auction offers 2,880 lots, ranging from ancient to ultra-modern items, but these two medallic lots stand out for the opportunity they offer.

One lot features a Norwegian silver medal of Oscar II, who reigned from 1872 to 1905 (and appears on the obverse). The reverse depicts a horse and legends indicating the piece was an award for horse breeding. 

Artist and printmaker Lea Ahlborn designed the medal. The 37.89-gram medal measures 44 millimeters in diameter. 

The other lot, a medal from Sweden, was issued slightly later. Gustaf V (who ruled from 1907 to 1950) appears on the obverse of this silver medal, issued for services to horse breeding. 

Adolf Lindberg (who died in 1916) designed this second medal, which also depicts a steed on the reverse. The medal weighs 34.1 grams and measures 44 millimeters in diameter. 

The Norwegian medal is estimated at €80 ($87.24 U.S.) and the Swedish medal is expected to sell for €40 ($43.62 U.S.), prices that could be within reach for many collectors.

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