A gold lifesaving medal from Prussia highlights Fritz Rudolf Künker’s
Feb. 4 auction in Berlin.
The auction, the Osnabrück, Germany, firm’s 271st, is scheduled at
the Estrel Hotel one day before the World Money Fair.
The gold medal of 16 ducats weight was issued under King Frederick
William III, who reigned from 1797 to 1840. Though silver examples of
the medal are known in other collections, this is the only gold
example available to the market, according to the firm, with one other
example reportedly in a collection in Poland.
This specific example was issued in 1804 to Steinhoefel Kruger in
New Angermünde. It is accompanied by the signed letter from the king
dated May 3, 1804, and the original presentation case. It may have
been awarded for a rescue during flooding in Silesia that year.
Daniel Friedrich Loos created the dies based on designs by Johann
Jakob Engel and Johann Gottfried Schadow (obverse) and Johann Veit
The medal shows the king on the obverse with a legend about
rewarding the lifesaving event. The reverse shows a burning house amid
lapping waves and an anthropomorphic cloud blowing wind, over which is
superimposed an arm displaying a shield, all surrounded by an
inscription. The wording translates to “What you have done for the
least of these brethren, ye have done to me,” which is taken from the
biblical verse Matthew 25:40. The biblical source is indicated below
Other examples of the medal in gold may have been issued in 1802 or
1820 — the firm’s research on this point is unclear — but so far this
is the only example on the market. A Polish collection apparently
features a soldered example in gold as part of a tankard, the firm
said. The medal at auction weighs 54.98 grams and measures 50
millimeters in diameter.
Graded Extremely Fine to Brilliant Uncirculated by the firm, the
medal has an estimate of €30,000 (about $32,804 U.S.).