A First War Lusitania Medallion; First Version
A First War Lusitania Medallion; First Version - Blackened bronze, non magnetic, obverse illustrating the stricken liner sinking, her stern submerged to left while her ram-shaped bow, laden with armaments, rises clear of the water (an image contradicting eyewitness accounts which stated that the ship went down bow first, the shape of the bow being a reference to the configuration of warships of the period and possibly a reminder that the British Admiralty had ordered merchant vessels to attempt to ram German submarines), smoke billowing from the vessel's four funnels, inscribed "KEINE BANN WARE!" (No Contraband Goods) above and "DER GROSS-DAMPFER=LUSITANIA=DURCH EIN DEUTSCHES TAUCHBOOT VERSENKT 5.MAI 1915" (the liner Lusitania sunk by a German submarine 5 May 1915) below, reverse illustrates Death in the form of a skeleton, behind the ticket office counter of the Cunard Line in New York, issuing tickets to a crush of passengers, sign above the window inscribed "CUNA LINIE" (Cunard Line), arranged vertically down the right side of the window is the word "CUNARD" and below the counter "FAHRKARTEN AUSGABE" (Ticket Office), at the extreme left of the crowd a man reads a newspaper bearing the headline "U BOOT GEFAHR" (U-boat Danger) and standing next to him is a top-hatted and bearded figure, a representation of the German Ambassador to the USA, Count Johann-Heinrich von Bernstorff raising a warning finger, inscribed "GESCHÄFT ÜBER ALLES" (Business Above All) above and the initials of the designer, "KG" (Karl Goetz) below the feet of the crowd, very high relief, 57 mm, light gilt wear, extremely fine. Footnote: Shortly after 2:10 pm on Friday, May 7, 1915, in fine clear weather off the Old Head of Kinsale (a headland on southern coast of Ireland), the Cunard liner Lusitania (30,396 tons) was hit amidships by a torpedo. She was struck without warning and sank in a matter of twenty minutes. According to the latest evidence, 1,201 men, women and children were lost. Of these fatalities 128 were American citizens. The U20, the German submarine which fired the torpedo, circled the sinking ship then fled the scene, reaching its base at Wilhelmshaven on May 13th. The Lusitania Medallion was privately issued in Germany, to mark the circumstances of the sinking of the Cunard liner RSM Lusitania in May 1915. British copies of the piece were subsequently widely distributed as part of a concerted anti-German propaganda campaign. The Munich-based Medallist, Karl Goetz, regarded the loss of the Lusitania as an event which stemmed directly from the bewildering irresponsibility of the British Government and the Cunard Steamship Company in allowing the return of the liner from New York to Liverpool at a time of intense U-boat activity. The significance of the reference to Count Johann-Heinrich von Bernstorff raising a warning finger is that on May 1, 1915, Lusitania's sailing day from New York, a German-sponsored announcement appeared next to the Cunard advertisement in all New York papers reminding passengers that Germany was at war with Britain and her allies and that the war zone included the waters around the British Isles, and any vessels flying the flag of Great Britain, or any of her allies, were liable to destruction in British waters. A second version of the medal was later issued correcting the date of the sinking, from May 5 to May 7, 1915.