Karl Goetz’s German Expressionist medals are still popular a century later than most of his best-known works.
G.W. In the introduction to his 1967 book The Medals of Karl Goetz, Kienast stated that “His work has aroused enthusiasm of many people while still displacing numbers of others.”
Guido, the son of the artist, was a partner in the discovery and interpretation of Goetz’s medals.
Classical Numismatic Group’s Feature Auction 118 features a beautiful selection of Goetz Medals, which was held online from Sept. 13-14.
The CNG sale includes four medals, each with a modest $300 estimate. They are organized in a Kienast section called “Turbulent Years in German History Reflected In the Medals.” It starts with the World War I series, 1914-19 1918.
An 1917 Goetz medal listed as Kienast Opus 196 is also known as the “Battle of Verdun”. It has an obverse that shows a skeleton in action, kicking Marianne, the French symbol. The medal was intended to record the “senseless killing of young soldiers on each side” and the reverse inscription reads “And quiet flows Rhine.” CNG also adds, “Heart stabbed by dagger with head French president Raymond Poincare on hilt; cap above, crossed torch, olive branch in background, spectacles draping over front.”
The medal is rated Extremely Fine by CNG
The same estimate is carried by a 1919 medal, Kienast 222, which has been graded Very Fine and listed as Kienast 222. It is also known as the “Soviet-Bavarian Government” Medal. The reverse shows Gustav Landauer and Vladimir Lenin dancing on the obverse. Kienast says, “For almost 4 weeks in April 1919 the power was in control of a few extremists including Russian communists.” Goetz shows, on the reverse, typical representatives from the Bavarian Central Committee of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils.
Goetz may have deliberately misspelled BAIERN in order to express his disdain for this type government. The reverse shows Laudauer, a prominent member the socialist-Bavarian government dancing for joy at the realization of his ideals with Lenin.
Goetz approached WWI-era works with the mindset that he was a journalist and spokesman who expressed the sentiments of many Germans, as well as his patriotic fervor. Kienast said that Goetz was not the creator of mythology. His first concern as a patriot was his country.
The Kienast text arranges the 1919-1923 medals under “The Revolution and Occupation the Rhine and Ruhr.” The 1921 medal Kienast 282 is called “Scarcity Of Living Space”, referring to the lack of living space in Germany following World War I.
German housing offices allowed a maximum of one square foot per person. Inspectors recorded excess space. Multiple families were forced into sharing one flat because of this. Kienast wrote that the medal’s obverse depicts a housing inspector standing before a door with a sign AB (German colloquially for toilet). He exclaimed, “What, still another living space?” The reverse shows the dire conditions of German life at the time. Two people sleep in three-tier bunk beds. One baby sleeps in a drawer under a table and the other in a wicker basket underneath the table. There was no separate toilet.
It is graded Nearly Extremely Fine.
“Father State” is an 1924 medal that addresses the topic of inflation and suggests that hard work and prayer can overcome it.
The obverse of the inscription reads, “Ten billion mark on paper — that’s one copper penny.” The latter is very little, the former very much” refers to the hyperinflation which overcame Germany after it had paid its World War I debts.
CNG explained that the obverse depicts a beggar, with a crutch underneath his shoulder, standing left and holding a 1924 1-pfennig, while the reverse shows “a caricature of a French colonial Soldier standing facing ground, resting rifle on the ground; to the right, a woman kneeling in prayer, and a man standing right, digging using a shovel.”
Kienast describes it as a “biting, satirical metal depicting Father State in the heights of inflation.”
CNG rates the medal Near Extremely Fine.