World Coins

Satirical medal highlights German auction in March

A hand-engraved silver medal satirizes Oliver Cromwell’s involvement with supporting the Turks during his reign. The piece sold at auction March 14 for 18 times its pre-sale estimate.

Images courtesy of Fritz Rudolph Künker.

The English Civil War left a rich numismatic history, with an abundance of coins and medals.

One of the rarest pieces is a hand-engraved medal that was once in the famed John G. Murdoch Collection, which was sold by Sotheby’s in 1904.

The silver medal was offered again March 14, by Fritz Rudolph Künker, during the firm’s spring auction marathon, five auctions in five days offering some 6,400 lots. 

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The English Civil War pitted pro-royalist forces against Oliver Cromwell and the pro-parliamentary group, with Cromwell emerging victorious to govern the Commonwealth as Lord Protectorate. Although the Parliament of Scotland proclaimed Charles II king on Feb. 5, 1649, England entered a period known as the English Interregnum or the English Commonwealth, during which the country was a de facto republic led by Cromwell. 

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Little is known about the offered unsigned and undated medal, which is in Extremely Fine condition. 

The engraved, chased medal mocks Cromwell “for his political activities in favor of the Turks,” according to the firm.

The medal weighs 36.63 grams and measures 63.3 millimeters in diameter.

The obverse shows Cromwell mounted on a horse, and the reverse depicts a Turk trampling a cross at his feet. Also in the scene are a monk, Turkish tents and troops. 

The medal realized a hammer price of €18,000 (about $19,150 U.S.), against an estimate of €1,000 ($1,064 U.S.). The buyer’s fee varies, at either 20 or 23 percent, depending on bidder location.

Full details of the auction are available at the firm’s website.

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