The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 26, Number 12, March 19, 2023, Article 23


Numismagram's Jeremy Bostwick sent along these rather macabre and haunting tokens and medals from his recent upload of new material to his website. In keeping with a tradition of spooky exonumia on the Ides of March, there is an abundance of skulls and skeletons in the world of numismatics, along with a few other designs that are simply chilling. For all of the new items, please visit -Editor

  Maastricht Lead Funeral Token

101100 | NETHERLANDS. Maastricht. Lead Funeral Token (Begrafenisloodje). Issued circa 1825. Receipt for funerary expenses or as a funerary commemorative (28mm, 15.18 g, 1h). Issued for St. Nicholas's Church (Nikolaaskerk). Skull and crossbones / St / NICOLA / =US in three lines. Edge: Slightly toothed as made, with casting sprue. Cf. Minard p. 196, 360 (cancellation punches on the obverse). PCGS AU-58. Light gray surfaces, with some brilliance remaining in the protected areas. A very rare and engaging type, more difficult to acquire than the similar issues from St. Servatius's Church in Maastricht, and easily far more difficult—and larger—than the similar types from St. Lambert's in Liège in bronze. Not surprisingly, the only such occurrence of the type in the PCGS census. $1,795.

Begrafenisloodje served multiple roles in the Low Countries during the 16th-19th centuries, acting as payment for gravediggers and pallbearers or other funerary expenses, or acting as a commemorative for the funeral of the deceased—either to those attending the ceremonies or to the respective church in remembrance of the departed. When they were utilized to indicate payment, a punch was generally placed upon one or both sides to act as a form of "cancellation" for the services rendered and payment received.

To read the complete item description, see:
101100 | NETHERLANDS. Maastricht. Lead Funeral Token (Begrafenisloodje). (

  Grave Diggers' Union badge

102220 | NETHERLANDS. 's-Hertogenbosch. Grave Diggers' Union bronze Guild Badge Engraved circa 1700-1750 (41mm, 26.79 g, 12h). Facing skull over scythes crossed in saltire; flame ball to left, above, and to right; winged hourglass below / DE DOODE BEGRAEVEN (the burying of the dead), radiant Eye of Providence above casket and shovel. Edge: Plain, with loop attached at the top. Engraving: Choice Extremely Fine. Pleasing brown surfaces. $1,395.

A unique piece on account of its engraved status, no other such similar examples could be located. Given the nature of engraved guild medals or badges with hooks at the top, it is very likely that this interesting piece served such a role for its holder.

To read the complete item description, see:
102220 | NETHERLANDS. 's-Hertogenbosch. Grave Diggers' Guild bronze Badge. (

  Johann Friedrich Blumenbach bronze Medal

102281 | GERMANY. Johann Friedrich Blumenbach bronze Medal. Issued 1825. Commemorating the Jubilee of the Anthropologist's Doctorate (50mm, 66.41 g, 12h). By G. Loos and H. Gube in Berlin. I FR BLUMENBACH NATO GOTHAE D 11 MAII 1752 DOCT CREATO GOTTINGAE D 19 SEPT 1775, bust left / NATURAE INTERPRETI OSSA LOQUI IUBENTI PHYSIOSOPHILI GERMANICI D 19 SEPT 1825, three human skulls, as classified by Blumenbach: Caucasian, Ethiopian, and Mongolian. Edge: Plain. Storer 398; Brettauer 125. Mint State. Glossy violet-brown surfaces, with some very light rub upon the high points and a few scattered spots. An ever-interesting and haunting type. $745.

Blumenbach was an anthropologist from the University of Göttingen and specialized in the study and classification of human skulls from around the world—later known as craniometry. At the time of his death, he owned 245 whole skulls and fragments, along with two mummies. The term ‘caucasian' as a descriptor of race was also derived from him, as his influential use of it in 1795 quickly caught on in scientific circles.

To read the complete item description, see:
102281 | GERMANY. Johann Friedrich Blumenbach bronze Medal. (

  As Ye Sow medal

102363 | GREAT BRITAIN. "As Ye Sow" cast bronze Medal. Issued 2013 (100mm, 12h). By M. Sandle for the British Art Medal Society. F16 fighter pilot advancing facing within partially demolished building, wearing gas mask and holding up numerous severed heads as a trophy; stellate-patterned blast in foreground / In seven lines: Michael Sandle / 2013 / "As Ye Sow" / A medal of / dishonour / for 'Collateral / Damage'. Edge: Plain. BAMS 64. Essentially as made. Deep glossy black-green surfaces. Includes original box of issue. From a very limited issuance of just 32 pieces cast. $385.

Incredibly powerful and moving, this medal has rather deep meaning. In reference to its overall design and background, the author writes that "...the idea for 'As Ye Sow' came from Holman Hunt's painting 'The Light of the World.' It has not been my intention to satirise this work, as although I am not religious I remain an admirer of this artist. The real motivation behind this medal is the fact that it makes me puke whenever I hear politicians say things like, 'We are in Afghanistan to make the streets of Britain safer.' So therefore in depicting Christ as an F16 Pilot I have attempted to show the hypocrisy behind the nominal Judaeo-Christian values of the West that are claimed to be behind our grotesque and extraordinarily unintelligent foreign policies. We are horrified when Muslim extremists cut off heads, but we cut off heads too–including those of children–via indiscriminate air and drone strikes."

To read the complete item description, see:
102363 | GREAT BRITAIN. "As Ye Sow" cast bronze Medal. (

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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