Greg Burns currently serves as editor of The California Numismatist, the award-winning joint publication of the California State Numismatic Association (CSNA) and the Numismatic Association of Southern California (NASC), and has been a coin collector for about 35 years. His collecting passions are the satirical medals of the German medallist, Karl Goetz, medals relating to WWI in general, and he has a longtime fascination with Canadian colonials and bank tokens.
Let's take a look at the obverse (front), reverse, and edge of the medal of Karl Goetz:
The First Obverse
The Lusitania slipping beneath the waves stern first (opposite to what really happened) and with obvious war contraband on her deck: cannon, war planes, armaments, with the admonishment above "No Contraband Goods!" Below, in exergue, the German equivalent of, "The liner Lusitania sunk by a German submarine May 5, 1915."
This is Goetz' first obverse which bore the incorrect date of 5 MAI (the German spelling), an error he later attributed to an flawed newspaper account. And that error is what made this such a controversial piece.
The Second Obverse
This is Goetz' second obverse. The first bore the incorrect date of 5 MAI (the German spelling), an error he later attributed to an flawed newspaper account. And that first error is what made this such a controversial piece. Here, Goetz has corrected the medal's date to read 7 MAI, the actual date of the sinking of the Lusitania.
A skeleton (representing death) sells passage at the Cunard Line ticket office. Along the top of the medal are the German words for "Business Above All" mocking the Cunard Line for willingly placing passenger's lives at stake. At left is a man reading a paper on which are the German words for "U-Boat danger", while behind him is the figure of the German ambassador, Count Johann-Heinrich von Bernstorff, raising a wagging finger as a reminder that the Germans had placed a warning advertisement in the same newspaper as the Cunard Lines sailing schedule.
Often referred to as the third side of a piece, the edge of a genuine Karl Goetz medal is sometimes marked with his special stamp. While its absence is not a sure sign of a counterfeit, its presence is invariably a sign of authenticity.