Tag Archives: goddess

Austrian Kalender Medailles

Calendar medals have their origins in the 17th century, when numismatic technology reached a level that could reproduce this level of detail.  In 1933 Austria began to release an annual kalender medaille, which continues.  Most of them are silver, but some years were released in bronze.

Calendar medals provided people with a quick pocket reference to any date in the year.  The earliest of these incorporate two tables, a Sunday table that shows the dates of each Sunday for all twelve months, and a Moon table that shows the dates of full and sometimes new moons.  The Moon table was said to be of particular use for planning journeys on nights with the potential for better lighting.  The last full Moon table was included in 1938.

The coins are grouped into the seven traditional, visible planets of the ancients, which include the Sun and Moon.  They cycle through these in a curious order, the reason for the particular order is unclear: Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon, Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars.  Nearly all of them feature related images of Roman deities and the Zodiac, which reflects the country’s history.  Essentially the German lands that fell under the Holy Roman Empire’s rule, the place is traditionally Catholic, while typical of royal lineages who consider themselves part of ancient, unbroken blood rights to rulership, references to the preceding empire served to establish their antiquity.  At the same time, most of them feature the dates of the four Moveable Feasts.

In some cases Janus takes the place of Jupiter; the Four Seasons or the Solar Chariot take the place of the Sun.  The Nazi Anschluss annexed the country in 1938, and did not end until 1945, with a return to autonomy for the country in 1955.  Notably, one divergence from Roman symbolism was 1947, when the year ruled by the Sun depicts a bearded figure and the phrase, “Es Werde Licht” (Let There be Light) a unique reference to the Christian creator, and in this initial period of Allied administration, “Cum Deo” (With God) was added beside the year.  Other exceptions include Athena in place of Saturn in the year 1965, and the next time around, a Sphinx aboard a sailing ship in place of Saturn as well.  In 1975 a rooster and an owl are featured for the Sun.  Throughout the calendar coins have exhibited modernity through austere Art Deco type, with the exception of the first three years of Anschluss where the Germans saw fit to impose a gothic font.  Increasingly the influence of modern art in overall design appeared through the seventies, but in 1980 and onward, we see the return of traditional mythological gods in an emphatic, neo-classical style, with several grouped years designed by single artists.

I share these as an interesting way to quickly scroll through the years.  They provide a way to absorb the passage of time, and the proximity of the past.  And through their design elements, they give us a kind of control against which to experiment with assumptions about culture and the graphics that they maintain as part of their myths.

 1933  1933
1934 1934Kal
1935 1935
 1936 1936
 1937 1937kal
 1938 1938kal
1939 1939Calendar
1940 1940kal
 1941 1941k
1942 1942Calendar
 1943 1943k
1944 1944kal
1945 1945kal
1946 1946
 1947 1947
 1948 1948kal
1949 1949
 1950 1950Kal
 1951 hp photosmart 720
1952 1952kal
1953 1953kal
1954 1954kal
1955 1955Kal
1956 1956cal
1957 1957kal
1958 1958kal
1959 1959Kal
1960 1960kal
1961 1961kal
 1962 1962kal
1963 1963kal
1964 H. K?ttenstorfer
 1965 1965SV
 1966 1966kal 
1967 1967
1968 1968kal
1969 1969kal
 1970 1970Kal
 1971 1971Kal
1972 1972Kal
1973 1973Kal
 1974 H. Köttenstorfer
 1975 1975kal
1976 1976kalab
 1977 1977kal
1978 1978Moon
 1979  1979kal
1980 1980kal
 1981 1981kal
 1982  1982akal
1983  1983akal
1984 1984kal
1985 1985kal
 1986 1986kal
1987  1987kal
1988 1988kal
1989 1989kal
 1990 1990kal
 1991 1991kal
1992 1992kalab
1993  1993kal
 1994 1994kal
1995 1995kal
1996  1996kal
 1998 1998kal
1999 1999Kal
2000 2000kal
2001  2001Kal
 2002 2002Kal
 2003 2003Kal
 2004  2004kal
2005 2005kal


I have yet to uncover any biographical details of this Swiss family name, other than to discern that during the turn of the 20th century medal sculpting must have been a family affair. Henri-Édouard seems to be the most productive. I primarily wished to share this work for their purpose is today rather novel – these are awards for accomplishments of basic living, decorated with humanistic deities and nymphs – the progress and mere existence of modern living standards would appear to have reached near spiritual proportions of celebration. It was a peculiar combination of social-realism and erotic tokens that somehow describes the marketing zeitgeist of the burgeoning industrial age.

In artwork, the rise of science and technology was frequently paired with fanciful illustations of ancient metaphor; this neo-classical rendering was perhaps an emphasis of Newtonian triumph.  The early scientists worked under significant repression from the church, something that was freshly in mind during these times, leading to a popular sense that science had uncovered a more authentic ‘divinity of nature’.  This created a cultural connection between the wisdom of ancient, previously suppressed philosophers, their myth-making imagery, and modern progress.  A curious juxtaposition that captures the sense of excitement during a brief window in history.  The wonder of human invention would lose much of its glamour as the world wars approached.

It just makes one contemplate how things have changed. This was spurred by my mother discovering in a box of things a little gold medal I had won once for extemporaneous speaking. I admired the coarse ‘realness’ that it had compared to computer drafted engraving goods these days, and the little blank ribbon waiting for my engraved initials. As with this family of medalists, in addition to commissions for governments and institutions the artists regularly produced blank trophy items – agricultural scenes for market shows, family scenes to celebrate weddings and childbirth. These items would be hand engraved with names, inscriptions and dates. Hand engraving was an art, and a few decades before this period comprised a major part of independent jeweling.


Students graduating from the Marseille School of Decorative Arts were awarded with a medal of a woman removing her blouse ribbon.


Electricity, a common medallic theme in this time period, here celebrated with a floating nymph whose diaphanous shroud is pulled away, entangled in the new power lines.

A flowing toga on a victorious goddess is used to illustrate prudence.

I am guessing this is a brewery.

Here a goddess of progress, indicated by her Amazonian height, is showing the scientists around the labratory.

The hydroelectric dam.

Hospitals, symbolized by a goddess of health in scanty nightwear with a dish of fresh fruit.

Neptune himself attended the ceremony for stormdrain installation in Bern.