World Coins

German medal illustrating Tobit story in auction

A circa 1700 silver medal tells the story of Tobias from the Catholic and Orthodox Bible.

Medal images courtesy of Davissons Ltd.

A silver medal from Germany telling a story found in the Orthodox and Catholic Bible highlights Davissons Ltd. e-auction No. 22, which ends Sept. 20.

The circa 1700 medal, issued in Nürnberg, cites a passage from the Book of Tobit or Tobias.


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In the story, Tobias is sent on an errand by his father, and is accompanied by the angel Raphael in disguise. He is shown on the obverse of the medal with his dog and the monstrous fish he captured from the Tigris River. The prophet Samuel appears to the right.

Raphael was venerated as a healer and a protector of travelers, and the story was a common artistic theme during the Renaissance. The image of Tobias carrying a fish and accompanied by a dog and the angel Raphael gradually evolved to represent the image of the guardian angel, according to the auction house. The story also related how Tobias later used the fish’s heart, gall, and liver to protect his future wife Sara from an evil spirit, and to restore his father’s sight.

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The reverse shows Joseph to left and Daniel to right, with lions behind, recalling the story of Daniel in the lions’ den.

A legend on the medal translates to “Hardworking as Tobias, Faithful as Samuel to the Lord, Such youth” on the obverse and “Art thou chaste as Joseph’s soul, wise as Daniel yonder, One loves gladly” on the reverse. The medal weighs 14.46 grams and measures 38 millimeters in diameter. The medal was graded Near Extremely Fine by the auction house, which describes it as having “attractive old toning.” It has an estimate of $250.


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