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ANTI-SEMITIC BIGOTRY AS CHRONICLED BY HISTORICAL MEDALS


 
FEATHER JEW (FEDER JUDE) MEDALS

Another type of German anti-Semitic medal is the so-called Feather Jew Medal (Federjudenmedaille). Like the Korn Jude medals, the Feather Jew medals were made at different times and had slightly different iconography. One such medal, oval, and struck in silver about 1650, is shown in figure 8. The obverse depicts a hunched-over Jew with a feathered cap holding a bag on which is engraved a Latin legend translated as "Alien Way of Life.” As is typical with these types of medals, he is shown carrying a large moneybag on his back. The Latin inscription below is translated as "His Own Faults.” The reverse shows an image of winged Cupid on a lion, with a Latin legend translated as "Love Conquers All.” Kirschner and Friedenberg interpret the symbolism of medal's obverse to mean (citing Matthew 7) that the Jew is a Pharisee, and as he judges others, so shall he be judged; and on the reverse (alluding to the Tale of Cupid/Amor and Psyche), that even Jews can be conquered by love.

Feather Jew Medal  Jew Medal
Figure 8. Feather Jew Medal

Christian Wermuth or Johann Reteke, Germany, c.1650, silver struck medal, 42x46 mm (oval). Ref: Kirschner Nr. 13 (non-variant); Friedenberg 11/12 and 112; Brettauer 4765 & plate 23 (Image courtesy of Alex Ben-Arieh)

As in the case of the Korn Jude medals, several variants of these Feather Jew medals were made, all of which, through imagery and words, were designed to imply that Jews use deceitful measures to attain public offices. Figure 9 shows one engraved by Christian Wermuth around 1700. This typical example depicts on the obverse a merchant, wearing a feathered hat and boots, peering into a moneybag. As on the previous medal, on his back is tied a large sack on which is inscribed (translated) “His Own Faults.” The legend around is written in German, translated as “I Wear the Feathers Which Everybody Can See; Another Wears Them as a Decoy.” Again, there is no doubt whom the figure represents, as the legend below, in a mixture of German and Latin, is inscribed “Hey Thou Feather Jew, Know Thyself.” On the reverse, the legend implies that Jews advance their careers by being a cuckold (i.e., a husband with an adulterous wife), a somewhat loose translation being: “By Being Cuckolded Alone [You Will] Not Be Held up to Ridicule, for this Is Certainly Most True That Many People, Through Their Horns [i.e., through their cuckolding], and According to the Common People, the Wife Allowed the Husband to Rise to Public Office.” That is, the cheating woman puts the horns on the husband. (The word SCOPTJCE on the reverse may be translated as: sarcastic, derisive, and ironical).

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