I bought a "coin" with a very dark history . . . . . . .
I have been enamored of late by some of the astounding architectural bronze medals engraved by Wiener, Bianchi, and others during the mid 1800's. In trolling for a few new "objects of my affection" I ran across something that piques my curiosity, and that I just had to pick up . . . . and I believe that it might have quite the dark history in and of itself . . . .
On the surface, this looks like a somewhat ordinary anniversary medal for the St. Peter's Cathedral in Cologne Germany, but the Cologne Cathedral is no ordinary edifice.
In itself, the cathedral has quite the history. It's construction began in medieval 1248 and continued until 1560, when all work on it stopped. It sat unfinished for 300 years until the mid 1800's when construction resumed. Construction was finally finished in 1880, some 640 years after it began, and the medal below is commemorating the 100 Year Anniversary of its completion. 100 years later, the Cologne Cathedral in West Germany largely survives the conflicts of both World Wars while the surrounding city was flattened.
But this thread isn't about the cathedral and its rather unique place in history, but it does make the medal in question even more interesting, and places this unique landmark at the center of how the "coin" below captured my attention.
On the surface this rather pedestrian attempt at designing "souvenir" medal commemorating the completion of the cathedral had just enough design interest to initially capture my attention. The quality of this design is nowhere near the level created by medal engraving artisans of the mid 1800's, but the somewhat "darker" features of this medal piqued my curiosity and brought me to purchase it.
The 100 Year Anniversary of its completion occured in 1980, almost one decade prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War. Jimmy Carter was still President and Ronald Regan had just been elected to his first term. The Cold War was still in full swing.
Ostensibly, the spy trade was also in full swing, and that is when, I believe, this little medal was created.
One will notice that this medal is a little "thicker" than normal and when dropped, has a somewhat "hollow" sound. Upon close observation, one can see a very fine seam around the edge of this "coin."
Closer inspection reveals the following:
Given the time frame in question, I have no doubt that this medal, this device, was put into play during the latter years of the Cold War. It is no longer a commemorative medal, but in fact, a Spy Coin used to clandestinely transmit information from one side, to the other
THAT is what beckoned me to pick up an interesting, but otherwise unremarkable architectural medal.
Thought you might like to see this one as well.
Busy chasing Carr's . . . . . woof!
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