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As we near the 90th anniversary of the intended distribution of this medal--possibly the third most peculiar one I can think of-- it seems appropriate in our own End Times to muse on the recycled flotsam and jetsam of history.

King Ludwig III of Bavaria had 14,000 of these blackened zinc "challenge coins" struck to commemorate his 50th wedding anniversary on 20 February 1918. For some, uh, "reason" he (or somebody) decided that it would be a really neat idea to hand these out to all the members of regiments of which he was the honorary Chief... on 25 December 1918.

Aside from what, uh, "festive holiday cheer" these coal-like lumps could have brought in the anticipated FIFTH Christmas of the war...

and the utterly irrational discrepancy in distribution date...

what actually happened was defeat, abdication, and bulk storage. :banger:

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Eventually somebody at the Mint noticed that these were seriously taking up space, not to mention making unpleasant weight noises on the upstairs roof beams from where they'd been stuffed away in an attic, and would the Wittelsbachs kindly come along and pick up their property? After all, they'd been PAID for.

What to DO with the wretched things?

20 February 1918-- gone. 25 December 1918-- gone.

18 October 1921 Ludwig III died...

a silver lining!!!!

Invited funeral guests were handed these-- still in "challenge coin" format-- shuffling into the cathedral.

And here is an award certificate for one of that first issue:

Even THIS was a bigger chore than anticipated. March 1922 was when the paperwork (cheap, nasty paperwork) finally caught up even with that. And cutting corners, though obviously the MAILING ENVELOPES had to have been addressed... all that the DOCUMENT has filled in is the polite German equivalent of "Dear Sir." :speechless:

Recipients-- dissatisfied with zink lumps of Oldsenburgesque painted mock coal, eventually decided amongst themselves to fit a ring and wear this token as a medal on their medal bars, using the Luitpold Military Jubilee ribbon.

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Uh oh. Since there already WERE Luitpold Jubilee Medals... the ONLY well to tell--on a ribbon bar--whether the 1905/1909/1911 official ones or the 1918/1918/1921/1922 dynastic ones are being worn was if BOTH were in a group.

Like these, to an eccentric former junior military member of the wartime Royal Household--

The Austro-Hungarian Marianerkreuz in last place reveals that the wearer was a VON Etwas... but beyond that he remains stubbornly unidentified.

Our eccentric nobleman decided to wear what can only be described as a Wittelsbaach sandwich of ALL possible jubilee and post-war dynastic ribboned awardss:

1) a 1905 or 1911 Luitpold Army Jubilee Medal

2) 1 of 1,381 bronze class Rupprecht Medals ( aniftier dynastic award 1925-1933)

3) the "Christmas 1918" Medal (as it is usually quite incorrectly described) as handed out from 1921 to 1935

4) bizarrely for taking up the rear, the actual OFFICIAL Golden Wedding Jubilee Medal of 1918, awarded to all members of the Royal Household, the Leibgarde der Hartschiere, and "other special persons."

One wonders if there is still the odd box of these sitting around in some forgotten castle cupboard-- just not handed out FAST enough.

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very,very cool.

The Wittelsbachs ( notibly Prince Alfons) continued handing out other dynastic awards well into the TR era (although Rupprecht, to his credit, hated Hitler and ended up on the run from the Gestapo in Italy until liberated).

Rumor has it that Hitler himself was given one of the wedding coins/medals and that is one of the reasons they were never banned in 1935. Perhaps allowing the Wittelsbach awards was a nod to the special status of Bavaria to the NSDAP. Roehm certainly wore his wedding medal.

Somewhere out there I'll bet there was a memo on the subject.

I have pondered for years about what the odd little trifold medal in the picture below could be.....

Edited by Ulsterman
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