Interesting Japanese War Horse Competition Medals

From among the hundreds of beautiful coins and related historical items I see every week, I have chosen two interesting pieces that may be otherwise get lost in the mix. Today’s first item is a 1916 Japanese war horse competition medal, a first place medal made of gilt bronze, accompanied by a 10 foot long ribbon for adorning the horse. The obverse of the medal displays two winded horses with an ancient Japanese character between them. I’m no expert on Japanese art but the horses appear very “steampunk” to my eye. “Steampunk” is a pseudo-Victorian genre where everything is steam-powered — as opposed to gas-combustion engine or electricity — featuring all sorts of nifty metal widgets; that is to say, the horses look like mechanical automatons, in a fashion I’ve never seen on coins or medals prior to encountering this piece. The reverse of the medal features an inscription encircled by a wreath. The medal, housed in a custom fitted wooden presentation case, will be featured in our upcoming 2012 August Hong Kong Sale in the Internet Only session as lot 60483.

Today’s second item is almost the same as the first with a few noted differences. The first difference is that this is a third place medal and is made of pure bronze. The obverse is largely the same as the first place medal with the exception that the top of the character is a Japanese 3 instead of a 1. The reverse also features an inscription, though it’s made of different characters, also encircled by a wreath. This medal is also accompanied by a 10 foot ribbon, only slightly more faded than that of the first place ribbon. What makes this lot more interesting is that the medal is accompanied not only by a similar presentation case, but also by a 300+ page war horse training manual from the same period. The manual is fascinating to inspect, and I’m sure if translated, it would be just as fascinating to read. There are some images in the manual detailing techniques and care. It is truly an interesting piece of history from another time. This medal and book will be featured as lot 60484 in our upcoming 2012 August Hong Kong Sale, also in the Internet Only session.

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