A satirical medal offered May 27 during Netherlands-based MPO
Auctions’ latest sale mocks the British victors and recalls the
sacrifice of prisoners during the Second Boer War.
The 1902 medal was issued to commemorate the Ragama Boer POW Camp in
Ceylon. The first batch of prisoners arrived in Ceylon on Aug. 9,
1900, and subsequently others followed until some 5,000 prisoners had
landed. Diyatalawa was the main camp. Mount Lavinia was the
convalescent camp while foreign volunteers, dissidents and
irreconcilables were housed at Ragama.
We have plenty on the off-metal 1943 Lincoln
Cents and on the origin of Q. David Bowers’ column:
A reader wonders how much his 1943 cent struck on a dime planchet
is worth, while a long-time numismatist wonders why the origins of
two new bronze 1943 cents were revealed.
In the wartime correspondence of Jeannot Weinberg, a Jewish POW in
Ragama Camp, he writes, “The Germans, Hollanders, Irish Americans are,
with a few exceptions, a most disreputable lot. They are without
exaggeration the scum of the scum.”
Those last four words appear on the reverse of the medal.
The obverse depicts a man wearing a hat standing beside a palm tree,
possibly chopping it down with machete, and hut on the left. The
legend on the obverse includes the date and words translating to
“British civilization.” The remaining legend on the reverse translates
to “Ragama Camp reminder.”
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Most of the prisoners in Ceylon were repatriated to South Africa at
the end of the war after signing the oath of allegiance to King Edward
VII. Foreign volunteers and those who refused to sign were probably
given passage on Dutch ships to the Netherlands, according to the
Legend suggests that these medals were struck over pennies of the
South African Republic, but that is unlikely, the auction house said.
The dies were made by C.F. Keyzer, a former employee of the NZASM, the
Dutch-South African Railway Co.
The bronze medal weighs 10.13 grams and measures 30.4 millimeters in diameter.
It has a “rough strike,” and grades Very Fine to Extremely Fine, the
auction house reports.
The medal has an opening bid of €750 ($ U.S.). For more details,
visit the auction house website.