US Coins

American sentiment during World War affects numismatics

The following is a segment from Paul Gilkes' cover feature in the November Monthly issue of Coin World, dealing with World War I and the many numismatic collectibles that are related to that war. 

On the homefront, soon after the outbreak of World War I, anti-German sentiment in the United States escalated.

Many cities across the nation held large populations of German immigrants and citizens of German ancestry. 

Many of these same cities had banks chartered with “German” as part of the registered name. The anti-German sentiment reached such a level that it began to affect business, and many of these “German” banks legally changed their names.

One such institution was the German National Bank of Columbus (Nebraska). Series 1902 national bank notes in Columbus issued from 1902 into 1914 bear the “German” name. Later in 1914, Series 1902 national bank notes for the Columbus institution were introduced bearing the firm’s new name, the Central National Bank of Columbus.

German medalist and engraver Karl Goetz is recognized as possibly the most prolific and famous artist who generated war-themed medals and tokens.

Among his contributions, illustrated on this page, is an example from among several Christmas medals he executed during the war. The 1918 medal is more reflective of simple relief at the end of the war, since the war was effectively over a month before Christmas.

The obverse features a trumpeting, winged figure, standing on what appears to be a helmet, with the German inscription FRIEDE AUF ERDEN, translating to “Peace on Earth.” 

The reverse depicts Christmas greenery on which five burning candles are placed. The inscription WEINACHT DAHEIM around translates to English from German as “Christmas at home.”

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