World Coins

World War I battle recognition often in medallic form

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. 

While World War I military decorations often recognize battle achievements, numerous examples of medallic art add to the accolades.

The Battle of Saint-Mihiel in France was fought against German positions from Sept. 12 to 15, 1918, by the 550,000-member American Expeditionary Force and 48,000 French troops under the command of U.S. Gen. John J. Pershing, a subsequent Medal of Honor recipient.

The United States Army Air Service (which later became the United States Air Force) played a significant role in this action. 

This battle, a victory for the Allies, marked the first use of the term “D-Day” to signify the start of a major combat offensive.

French sculptor, engraver and medalist Édouard Fraisse executed a 68-millimeter bronze medal to recognize the victory, during which 13,300 German prisoners were taken.

Examples of the medal can often be found for less than $200.

Gen. Hermann von Koevess was the final, albeit totally ceremonial, commander-in-chief of the military forces of Austria-Hungary. 

Von Koevess was near retirement when he was given the command post soon after World War I broke out.

Although relatively undistinguished during his final military assignment, von Koevess is recognized on at least two 33-millimeter silver medals from 1916.

Heritage Auctions sold Uncirculated examples of both medals in a single lot for $373.75 in an April 18, 2011, sale.

One commemorates the conquering of Serbia. The other marks the taking of the fortress of Lovcen in Montenegro.

Belgian medalist P. Theunis engraved a 70-millimeter bronze medal depicting the August 1914 defense of the fortress at Namur by Belgian troops against German forces and the debarkation of its garrison at Ostende.

Belgian troops successfully defended against the assault by Germany’s Second and Third Armies commanded by Field Marshal Karl von Bulow.

An example of the 1914 medal, from the Eric P. Newman Collection, and certified Mint State 66 brown by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., was sold at auction by Heritage on April 24, 2014, for $235.

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