GERMANY silver medal 1935 for reoccupation of Saar


GERMANY, THIRD REICH, medal, 1935, Munich mint, Obverse: map, VOLKSABSTIMMUNG IM SAARGEBIET 13.1.1935., Reverse: coal miner stg L, DEUTSCHE DIE SAAR IMMERDAR, antiqued silver, 36mm, 21.41g, XF

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France occupied Saarland after World War I. It had coal, which France exploited. There was supposed to be a referendum on what to do with the Saar in 1935. There was an international peacekeeping force there in 1934 and 1935. The Nazis engaged in massive propaganda and political intimidation to promote the return of the Saar to Germany. The legend on this medal translates: German the Saar always (will be).

The Germans have been fans of round, flat, shiny objects since the 2nd century BC, when they made imitations of Greek coins. Coin manufacture was deeply decentralized until the 19th century, extending to jetons and medals starting in the 16th century. Local tokens began to supplement the normally chaotic coinage situation in the markets from the late 17th century. Production of tokens and medals boomed in the 19th century, and was going strong into the 1990s.

There are two kinds of things that are called “medals.” One is things that look like coins but don’t express a value. Sometimes those medals are considerably larger than most coins. The other kind of medal is a metal thing designed to be displayed on one’s chest, often a reward for something, often in a military context. If the medal is small enough it is sometimes called a “medallet.”

The word “exonumia” is used to describe all kinds of things that are “like” coins but are not coins. I wrote a blog post on that subject. Basic categories: 1. used like a coin but not issued by a national government, 2. looks like a coin but not made for spending, 3. other things that we are interested in.