The Numismatic Bibliomania Society


The E-Sylum: Volume 25, Number 12, March 20, 2022, Article 19


Jeremy Bostwick at Numismagram sent along these two spooky medals from his recent upload focused upon some of the more haunting aspects within the world of exonumia. For all of these new items, please visit -Editor

1825 Johann Friedrich Blumenbach skulls medal

101757 | GERMANY. Johann Friedrich Blumenbach bronze Medal. Issued 1825. Commemorating the Jubilee of the Anthropologist's Doctorate (50mm, 81.00 g, 12h). By G. Loos and H. Gube in Berlin. I FR BLUMENBACH NATO GOTHAE D 11 MAII 1752 DOCT CREATO GOTTINGAE D 19 SEPT 1775, bust left / NATURAE INTERPRETI OSSA LOQUI IUBENTI PHYSIOSOPHILI GERMANICI D 19 SEPT 1825, three human skulls, as classified by Blumenbach: Caucasian, Ethiopian, and Mongolian. Edge: Plain. Storer 398; Brettauer 125. Choice Mint State. Highly glossy and brilliant brown surfaces, with just a hint of rub on the high points. An ever-interesting and haunting type. $645.

Blumenbach was an anthropologist from the University of Göttingen and specialized in the study and classification of human skulls from around the world—later known as craniometry. At the time of his death, he owned 245 whole skulls and fragments, along with two mummies. The term ‘caucasian' as a descriptor of race was also derived from him, as his influential use of it in 1795 quickly caught on in scientific circles.

A classic piece. -Editor

To read the complete item description, see:
101757 | GERMANY. Johann Friedrich Blumenbach bronze Medal. (

1916 Germany Totentanz satirical medal

101904 | GERMANY. WWI satirical cast iron Medal. Issued 1916. Totentanz (Dance of Death) series: Death chokes Italy (69mm, 94.88 g, 12). By W. Eberbach. FÜR • LATEINISCHE • BUNDES • / TREUE / 1915 / TRIENT 1916 FRIAUL (for Latin loyalty 1915, Trentino 1916 Friuli), Death on its knees facing slightly left, choking the Lupa Romana (representing Italy) / Legend in five lines: AN / SIDNEY / SONNINO / DEN • REDEGE / WANDTEN (to Sidney Sonnino, the eloquent one); all within scaled polylobe. Edge: Some filing marks as made, otherwise plain. "The Art of Devastation," p. 263, no. 59; Frankenhuis 1499. Choice Mint State. Deep charcoal gray surfaces, with a delightful matte nature; a few light flecks on the reverse are mentioned merely for completeness. A rare piece from an increasingly desirable series. Compare to a similar example that realized a total of $2,640 in the 2021 Stack's Bowers ANA auction (lot 40404). $1985.

Similar to the satirical medallic issues of Karl Goetz, Walther Eberbach was inspired by the events of World War I to create a series of rather morbid medals to propagandize the German war effort. The theme upon which he decided to focus was the Totentanz, or "Dance of Death." This series of issues, a divergence from the ephemeral topic of vanitas, portrayed Death as a skeleton, quite gleefully taking joy in the demise of his enemies—the allied powers—rather than a subtle reflection upon life and death. This frank morbidity is expressed by Eberbach himself in a letter to Julius Menadier, in which he writes "...I want whoever holds the pieces in their hands years later to be overcome by the shudder grimness." It's safe to say that, in this desire, Eberbach was astoundingly successful.

After initially joining World War I one the side of the Triple Alliance/Central Powers, Italy, under her foreign minister, Sidney Sonnino, signed the Treaty of London in secret, which saw her switch sides and join the allied powers. Additionally, should the allies be successful, the treaty included plans to dismantle the Austro-Hungarian Empire, at least in part to Italy's benefit. The suggestion of this medal is that Italy (represented by the Lupa Romana—the fabled she-wolf that suckled the twins, Romulus and Remus) was receiving her payback for signing such a treaty, namely in the battering which she suffered at the hands of Austria-Hungary in the Trentino Offensive/Battle of Asiago in May–June 1916.

Creepy, and timely. -Editor

To read the complete item description, see:
101904 | GERMANY & ITALY. GERMANY. "Totentanz" satirical cast iron Medal. (

TCNC E-Sylum ad 2022-03-20 Spring 2022 Sale

Wayne Homren, Editor

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