Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Money Museum, Colorado Springs, Colorado

The Money Museum is one of the largest museums dedicated to bringing culture to life. The museum includes history, science, art and much more. There are three main galleries with spectacular rarities and incredible findings about the world's history with money. 



"Safer, smarter and more secure" ... that's the theme of the new look in paper money. The U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing has set forth a policy to maintain the security of our nation's currency by making enhanced design changes every seven to ten years. The first denomination to appear with a new design was the $20 note issued in 2003. The newly designed $50 note debuted September 28, 2004. Future plans call for design changes to the $100 bill, with the $5 and $10 notes under consideration. There are presently no plans to change the $1 and $2 bill designs.


The new security changes are comprised of three basic elements: (a) a watermark, or faint image, of the portrait -- visible from both sides of the note when held up to the light; (b) color-shifting ink in the lower left numeral on the note's face -- changing from copper to green when the note is tilted; (c) a vertical, ultraviolet light-sensitive security thread embedded in the paper. 

The most notable difference between the old and new notes is the addition of background color, not used in U.S. currency since the $20 Gold Certificates of 1905. Despite the addition of color, the new notes will keep their traditional American "greenback" look that is the most familiar and circulated currency in the world. 

Origins of Coinage:



Lydia, King Croesus, 561-546 B.C., gold stater with foreparts of a bull and lion facing each other on the obverse; incuse depressions on the reverse.

Coins were invented during the 7th century B.C. in Asia Minor. Early coins were simple electrum (a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver found in the rivers of central Asia Minor) lumps with regular weights and lines impressed upon them on one side and incuse depressions on the back. These were soon replaced by more elaborate designs, including various animals and geometric shapes. The first coinage that can be identified with a kingdom comes from Lydia in central Asia Minor. Lydian coins feature the head of a lion, the heraldic badge of the ruling dynasty. As with the other early coinage, they feature a simple incuse depression on the reverse that was created during the minting process by hammering a punch used to force the blank planchet into the anvil die. 

With the invention of coinage came of the most historically important uses of money -- as a means of communication. A nation's money is often the first impression a visitor gets of the nature of a culture. As such, the designs and legends placed on currency have always been considered important by the authorities responsible for their issue, making money a key factor in the study of history. This was especially true before the age of the printing press, when the options for disseminating information were limited, and labor was intensive and expensive.



It is hard to imagine a world with coinage, but for the majority of human existence, trade was handled with other objects or systems of valuation. In the Mediterranean region the predominant system of trade was based on cows. Ancient Egypt based their system on grain. In China, the earliest money consisted of pearls, jade, gold, and cowries. In Africa, cattle and salt were commonly used. Cowrie shells were especially important as currency and symbols of wealth due to their convenience; they were used extensively in trade through much of Asia and Africa.

Valuing objects in terms of cows or grain was inefficient. As of volume of trade grew, so did the need for a more convenient and flexible form of money. Metal was the answer in China, India and Asia Minor. This began with using small pieces of silver, gold, electrum, copper and bronze, which created a common system of value as long-distance trade increased.

Coinage -- in the form of small metal discs, ingots, or replicas of metal tools marked with information about their value or origin -- first appeared in Asia Minor, India and China during the 1st millennium B.C. From these areas originated the three major monetary traditions (Greek, Indian and Chinese) that influenced modern ideas of how money should look and be used.


Yap Stone
Yap is a small island in the South Pacific known for gigantic, doughnut shaped (for easier transport) limestone money measuring as much as 12 feet tall and weighing up to four tons. This example is more portable at 38" diameter and 90 pounds. The most remarkable aspect of these massive pieces is that the limestone is not indigenous to Yap, but quarried and transported by canoe from the Palau Islands about 250 miles away. The difficulty by which the stones were acquired give them value. The stones have been used for hundreds of years to transfer wealth in social interactions such as marriage and political alliances, and are still used today.


Various sizes of Yap Stones


Swedish Plate Money 1644-1776
Sweden became a major European power during the 17th Century but had no significant sources of gold or silver. However, Sweden produced two-thirds of the copper used in Europe, and in 1624 King Gustavus Adolphus began issuing large quantities of copper coinage for domestic use, hoping that the decreased supply for export would increase copper's price internationally. These copper denominations were too small for large transactions but too large for convenience. In 1644 Queen Christina issued a copper bullion "coinage" denominated in "dalers." These massive copper "plates" ranged in weight from just over a pound to 52 pounds, and in denominations from a 1/2 daler (about 3.5 inches square) to 10 dalers (12.5 x 26.5 inches). Each piece was marked with stamps identifying denomination, mint, date and ruling monarch. Obviously, they were difficult to use and unpopular; the coinage was discontinued by 1776. (The above sample is a 10-daler "coin" and weighs 44 pounds.)

Traditional money has taken many forms, but all share certain characteristics: portability, durability, distinctive appearance and difficulty to counterfeit. Money is anything that people will accept as payment in exchange for other goods. It has had many uses over the ages beyond its original development for purposes of long distance trade and military power. Money can also be a means of storing or accumulating wealth -- in some cultures some "money" has a purely ceremonial or prestigious purpose in which the value of the objects rests not in what it what it can buy, but what it represents. Money creates a standard of value, simplifying trade.

Many cultures have gotten along without money altogether. Others cultures have used diverse materials including rocks, shells, feathers and teeth. More commonly, domesticated animals and metal ingots of various shapes and sizes have been used as money. 




Money is anything that people will accept as payment in exchange for goods or services. Evolving for the last 10,000 years, the earliest forms of money offered a system whereby people could determine the comparative value of items (for example, an ax or a cow). Money facilitated more than just buying or selling things -- it became a mark of status -- a characteristic it retains today. 

Eventually someone came up with the idea of using precious metals (gold, silver and their alloys) as money. About 4,500 years ago in Mesopotamia and Egypt, gold and silver began to be traded in the form of metal bars or bits of wire. Another big development occurred around 650 B.C., when small, round lumps of electrum (a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver) were produced in a standard weight and marked by the issuer. These were the first coins known to man. Since then, the appearance of coins has changed, but their purpose as a monetary instrument has not. First documented in China in the 8th Century A.D., paper money has become the most prevalent medium of exchange, with the possible exception of credit cards.




Medieval Coinage
The Roman Empire in the 5th Century was divided into the Western and Eastern Empire (later know as the Byzantine Empire). Over the course of the 5th century, both empires suffered from civil wars and external invasions. By A.D. 476, the Western Empire had collapsed. Western and Central were plunged into the "Dark Ages," with a full recovery delayed until the end of the 15th century.

The Crusades were a series of wars launched by Christian Europe against Muslims to re-open the access for western pilgrims to holy places in the Middle East, most prominently Jerusalem, sacred to both religions. These wars were launched in 1095 when Pope Urban II made a speech at the Council of Clermont calling for a crusade against the Seljuk Turks to open access to the Holy Land for Christians, which the Turks had blocked. The first four Crusades (1095 - 1204) are seen as the most historically significant of the eight major campaigns.

Only the First Crusade reached its objective of capturing Jerusalem while providing land, money and influence. These holdings were gradually lost, including Jerusalem by 1187, but European kings repeatedly called for campaigns to recapture the Holy Land; in all cases, these efforts were ultimately unsuccessful. The last crusading stronghold at Acre fell in 1291 and, though minor Crusades followed, support for the movement gradually waned over the next century.

The Crusades heavily impacted the course of history, affecting the power of the Catholic Church, relations between Christians and Muslims, politics, intellectual thought and commerce. There was a continuous movement of Europeans to the Middle East, and a return movement of ideas and goods which altered European society. Crusades also gave rise to knightly orders such as the Knights Templar and inspired future generations to embark on journeys of discovery. 

The name "Crusade" comes from the French, meaning "To the Cross." But at times, Christians battled Christians. In 1204, through a web of promises and deceit, crusading knights were diverted by the Venetians into sacking Constantinople -- leading to a permanent schism between the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches.



With the fall of the Western Roman Empire, cities and towns shrank or disappeared altogether. Long distance trade and a sophisticated monetized economy were replaced by barter and architectural subsistence economies. These changes are reflected in coinage. The Western Roman Empire was replaced by a patchwork of barbarian kingdoms, isolated domains of Roman landlords and simple chaos. Money became scarce and was increasingly limited to one of two denominations in gold, except in Italy, where a monetized economy survived due to the proximity of the Eastern Roman Empire. Over the course of the 7th Century, conditions began to settle down as barbarian tribes formed permanent territorial kingdoms. The economy began to revive and coinage was struck in greater numbers. As Western Europe recovered, limited coinages of gold fractions were replaced by silver "pennies" based on the Roman denarius -- these coins became the basis for monetary system introduced by Charlemagne. 

The Eastern Roman Empire had troubles of its own. After a short military and economic revival in the 6th century, the empire was faced with a series of devastating wars with the Sassanid Persian Empire based in Iraq and Iran. The Byzantines emerged victorious just as the Arabs, under the prophet Mohammed, erupted from southern Arabia with their new religion, Islam. The Arabs defeated the weakened Byzantines and Sassanids, creating a new empire (the Caliphate), which spread from Spain to Afghanistan and beyond. The Caliphate developed its own coinage, in keeping with Islam beliefs, which replaced its Byzantine and Sassanid predecessors as the standard trade coinage of Western and Central Asia. Byzantine survived as the eastern bulwark of Christianity and the great repository of the knowledge of the ancient world.







Money is one of the few things common to all countries today -- it forms a bond which allows modern societies to function. Money is also much more: it reflects the history, aspirations and culture of the society that issues it. In part this is because modern money has been shaped by Western ideas of what money is, how it can be used, and how it should look. Modern national currency shares two common aspects -- its form and the types of messages and images used. It comes in two forms, either as coinage or as banknotes, and thus, modern money is almost universally recognizable on sight. 



Modern European coinage began at the end of the 15th century with the discovery of extensive new sources of bullion in the New World and in Central Europe, starting an economic boom and introducing new larger denominations of money to handle the increased volume of trade. Machines such as the drop press, screw press, rocker press and roller press were invented to replace the hand-held hammer and dies, increasing speed and precision in coin production. The introduction of steam presses in the early 19th century allowed for further progress in the minting business. These advances in technology resulted in the coins of today -- machine struck with perfectly round, milled edges, each an almost exact copy of the next. These advances also set the stage for the worldwide adoption of Western currency concepts. 

Paper money has become an increasingly important part of the money supply, moving from a poor substitute for coinage to the mainstay of modern economics over the last 150 years. As the 21st century progresses, money has begun to change even more. Electronic money has become increasingly important -- from electronic transfers of cash balances to the use of electronic cards to access personal bank accounts and make purchases. This trend has raised the possibility that coins may soon become obsolete, just as other forms of money have over the past thousand years. 



The earliest eight real coins, known as "cobs" were very rough in appearance. The nickname comes from "cabo de barra" (end of the bar in Spanish) -- the blanks for the coins were literally cut from the end of a cast silver bar that had been hammered into a round(ish) shape. 


Hobo Coin
The term "hobo nickels" did not come into widespread use before 1970 when they were first popularly collected. The Original Hobo Nickel Society, the leading Hobo collector organization, was formed in 1992 at an ANA Summer Seminar in Colorado Springs.

The alteration of coins by engraving dates back to at least the 17th century or earlier in England. Beginning in the 1850s, coin alteration in the United States became popular with examples such as the "potty dollar" engraved on Seated Liberty and Trade Dollars. The period of the 1860s through the first decade of the 20th century was the heyday of the love token, which was made by grinding one or both sides of a coin smooth and then engraving it with various designs, monograms, or initials. The love token fad faded out in the early 20th century as the hobo nickel was created. 

Hobo nickels are generally "Buffalo" nickels, issued between 1913 and 1938, that have been hand carved using the design of either the Indian or the Buffalo as a base. The Indian head on these coins provided a large thick planchet and high relief profile for artists to work on, which allowed for fine detail work.

Originally traded for a meal, a sweater, or a place to sleep, hobo nickels today are valued collector items. Each is a unique work of art; the Indian has been converted in to clowns, women, other Indians, friends and loved ones, bearded men, famous people, self portraits and, most commonly, bearded men with bowler hats. The Buffalo has been turned into donkeys, turtles, elephants, boxcars, or hobos with packs on their backs. The designs are often caricatures of ethnic groups with exaggerated features. Some were crude and some were exquisitely carved.



The Great Depression caused widespread unemployment. Many of these men began to travel on the railroads in search of work and became known as "hobos." Living in "Hobo Jungles," they ate, slept, relaxed and shared whatever they had. There was plenty of spare time and some of it was spent carving buffalo nickels.  


Counterfeiting began about one minute after money was invented and remains widespread today. It has been done for personal profit or to discredit governments. The penalty for counterfeiting has always been high -- historically the death penalty was popular as were various forms of mutilation (such as cutting off the right hand). Unfortunately, no one has discovered an ultimate deterrent.

Most coin counterfeiting historically involved making struck or cast copies of circulating coins using base metals and coating them with a thin layer of silver or gold. Paper currency was easier to counterfeit and provided a vast opportunity for illicit profit. This type was the most common form until the 20th century. These counterfeits only have to pass as genuine once -- from the counterfeiter to their victim -- to be successful. 

With the rise in popularity of coin collecting, a new form of counterfeiting developed beginning in the 16th century with individuals who were willing to "create" collectible Roman coins, called forgeries. Often they are of much higher quality than other counterfeits since they have to pass close inspection by specialists. The best forgers use the same materials and manufacturing techniques as the original currency -- sometimes altering genuine host coins and changing minor features, such as mint marks, to create a valuable "rarity."



1907 high relief Saint-Gaudens double eagle "omega" counterfeit.

A subset of forgeries is modern copies of coins and notes for advertising and educational purposes. Before the passage of the Hobby Protection Act of 1973 there was no requirement that these "legitimate" copies be explicitly identifiable as replicas. The Act requires that all such items be clearly marked. Other types of counterfeits are those created to undermine the economics of enemy nations. These are government-sponsored and typically focus on paper currency, using the most modern manufacturing techniques available -- often making them nearly impossible to detect.



Federal Reserve notes have been undergoing design changes since 1996 in response to increased counterfeiting, a result of new technology. These changes have included the addition of multiple colors for the first time since the early 20th century and the addition of a series of measures such as micro-printing, security threads and color changing inks. The result has been a more colorful and interesting-looking currency, though the basic designs have not changed, in part to prevent confusion in international markets, where the dollar continues to be the preferred currency. 

Paper currency was first issued with "In God We Trust" in 1957. The phrase appears on all currency Series 1963 and beyond.



Paper money has a unique place in the history of the United States. The lack of gold or silver in British North America created an ideal setting for its issue. In 1690, the Massachusetts Bay Colony authorized the first paper money in North America and the first issued by a government in the West. Other colonies followed until paper money became common in the colonies, despite attempts by the British government to suppress its use. The American Revolution witnessed a vast expansion in paper currency issued by provisional state governments and the new Continental Congress as they attempted to pay for the war. Over issuance resulted in the collapse of currency values so that, by the end of the Revolution, the public had lost confidence in paper money. Continental paper was eventually redeemed at one cent on the dollar, three decades after it was issued!

The Constitution prohibited states from issuing paper money -- and the Federal government was reluctant to issue it, due to past experience. Thus Federal treasury notes were only issued during emergencies such as the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War. However, the continued shortage of gold and silver coinage made paper currency necessary for economic growth. State chartered banks and corporations provided the answer by issuing paper money, known today as obsolete notes. This series offers vignettes reflecting the changing self-image of Americans during this period.




At the outbreak of the Civil War, the U.S. Treasury realized that a new paper money system was needed. New methods for raising money were established, including the creation of a permanent Federal paper currency series. Congress authorized the issuance of circulating paper money in 1861. Known as "Demand Notes," these were redeemable in hard cash. In 1862 Demand Notes were replaced by Legal Tender notes, and, in 1863, by Compound Interest Treasury notes. These notes were nicknamed "greenbacks" due to their green color.

In 1863, the National Banking Act was introduced to replace the obsolete banknotes with a reliable series of currency backed by government bonds deposited with the Treasury. By the second half of the 19th century, the United States was producing the finest and most stable bank notes in the world. American paper money became the model for many countries, and the American paper money concepts became the accepted standard around the world. 














The early history of coinage in the U.S. was shaped by one major overriding factor: the eastern half of North America lacked deposits of precious metals. At the time, only hard currency in the form of gold or silver coins was acceptable for international trade. This presented the English colonists with the dilemma of how to get hard money and what to use in its place. The English colonies were forced to be creative in solving their domestic economic needs -- thus fur, nails, tobacco, and anything else that could be traded with merchants for European goods were used as money. The search for a stable form of currency resulted in the development of government-backed paper money -- the first in the western world -- beginning in Massachusetts in 1690.

After experimenting with state-issued and privately contracted coinage during the Confederation period (1783-89), the new U.S. federal government decided that a single, national coinage was needed for the country. The United States Mint was created in 1792 and began issuing coinage for circulation in 1793. However, it was not until 1857 that the United States was able to produce enough coinage to discontinue the use of foreign coins, especially Spanish-American 8 real coins, as legal tender.

American coin denominations and designs were specified in the Constitution -- half cents and cents in copper; half-dimes, dimes, quarters, half-dollars, and dollars in silver; and $2-1/2, $5, and $10 coins in gold. All coins were to feature an image in Liberty on the observe and, with the exception of copper coins, and eagle on reverse, along with the date, and the inscriptions "United States of America" and "Liberty." For the next 107 years, Lady Liberty appeared exclusively on the obverses of regular U.S. coins.

President Theodore Roosevelt began an artistic flowering of U.S. coin design at the beginning of the 20th century, when artists like the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens were commissioned to create designs. This "Renaissance of American Coinage" continued through the 1920s, with the creation of beautiful coins such as the Saint-Gaudens double eagle, the Walking Liberty half-dollar and the Buffalo nickel. By the late 1940s, American coinage settled into a pattern of uniformity that deadened public interest in coins as collectibles.



On the eve of the 21st century, American money began to change in exciting ways that ended the era of unchanging artistry in the world's most widely used currency. The initiation of the Statehood Quarters program in 1998 ushered in an era of artistic innovation that has raised interest in American coinage to unprecedented levels.



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The museum had a featured exhibit on World War I, which is highlighted below.

The Featured Exhibit when we visited was about World War I, Trenches to Treaties. Called “The Great War” and more optimistically “The War to End All Wars,” World War I was an event that changed the world’s political map and the fabric of civilization. To honor the 100th anniversary of United States involvement in World War I, the Money Museum, operated by the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and located adjacent to Colorado College, is unveiling its newest exhibit: Trenches to Treaties: World War I in Remembrance.  The exhibit showcases coins and paper money from combatant nations, art medals and military decorations, as well as weapons and uniforms to illustrate the events and effects of World War I politically, economically and socially. 


History of World War I


More than 17 million people perished during WWI, and the unprecedented bloodshed was accompanied by social upheaval and revolution as ancient empires crumbled and new nations were established. The war grew to encompass nations from across the globe, with battlefields in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Pacific and most of the world’s seaways. Warfare was industrialized with horrific new weapons while propaganda campaigns ensured that civilians supported the war no matter what the cost.

The entry of the United States into World War I in April of 1917 on the side of the Allies was decisive.  American industry and agriculture ensured that Great Britain and France could continue to fight in spite of German successes, and American manpower eventually overpowered the German armies on the Western Front.  Meanwhile, the U.S. replaced Britain as the world’s banker, becoming the greatest financial power on earth.

One of the most illuminating windows into understanding this period is through medallic art. Medals have been a popular form of artistic, commemorative and historical expression since the 15th century, so naturally they became important for expressing the events and emotions of World War I: patriotism, triumph, outrage, horror, loss, nostalgia and defeat.  Medals were produced by all combatant nations during and after the war. There are several iconic medals remembered today, such as the iconic Lusitania medal, but the vast majority have been forgotten.  This page presents many of these medals and gives a sense of what artists felt about the terrible calamity they experienced.


On May 7, 1915, a German U-boat sank the British Cunard luxury cruise liner RMS Lusitania, causing widespread outrage in England and the United States. The Lusitania, one of the world’s largest and fastest passenger ships, was carrying 1,962 passengers and crew. 1,191 perished, including 128 Americans.  The event caused a shift in public opinion against Germany that would eventually lead to America’s entry into the war.
 
However, story of the Lusitania is complex. Prior to the sinking, Germany had declared the waters around the United Kingdom a war zone, and the German embassy in the U. S. had distributed warnings not to travel on the ship as it was suspected of carrying munitions and thus a legitimate target of war. British and American authorities falsely denied it was carrying munitions for decades after the war.

In August 1915, the Bavarian medalist Karl Goetz (1875 – 1950) issued a medal intended as a scathing criticism of the Cunard Steamship Company and British policies allowing military cargo to be carried along with civilian passengers. Due to an error in his local paper, Goetz sculpted May 5, not May 7, for the date of the Lusitania’s sinking, setting in motion a chain of events that would forever distinguish this medal in the annals of propaganda. 

The British took advantage of the mistake to accuse the Germans of celebrating the murder of innocent civilians through the official government issue of the medal, even though Goetz was a private medalist.  Britain used the inaccurate date as false proof that the sinking was planned in advance and that the medal, prepared in advance, was evidence of the plan.

Within months the British had produced thousands of copies of the Goetz medal (he only produced 180 originals) “proving” the barbarous nature of the German government. Goetz attempted to correct his mistake through the re-issue of the medal with a corrected date and by publishing explanations of his intent, but it was too late.

The Christmas Truce

As Christmas 1914 approached it was becoming clear that the war was not going to end soon. Troops were increasingly disillusioned with the horror and pointlessness of the fighting and were homesick – they had been promised a short war.  Neutral American newspapers suggested that the combatants observe a “Christmas truce” to allow them to think about whether the war was worth the cost. 


1914 German Christmas in the Field
commemorative medal

1915 German Peace on Earth
Commemorative Medal
No official truce was called, but an unofficial truce did occur along parts of the Western Front between German and British units as soldiers fraternized, sang songs, exchanged gifts and food, and even competed in soccer games.  Senior officers on both sides soon put an end to these demonstrations of goodwill so the business of war could go on.  Karl Goetz issued a series of annual medals from 1914 to 1918 commemorating the sacrifice of soldiers and celebrating Christmas. On each medal, a German military leader appears on the obverse, while the reverses depict one, two, three, four or five candles, symbolizing the year of the war. The first four medals have a legend translating to “Christmas on the field,” while the 1918 medal’s legend translates to “Christmas at home.”


German Soldier with an English Soldier

British and German Soldiers fraternizing
at Ploegsteert, Belguim
"First the Germans would sing one of their carols and then we would sing one of ours, until when we started up 'O Come, All Ye Faithful,' the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words Adeste Fideles. And I thought, well, this is really a most extraordinary thing -- two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war." ~~ Graham Williams of the Fifth London Rifle Brigade

The Lost Generation refers to people of combatant nations who came of age during during World War I (born c. 1883-1900). After the war young adults were disillusioned by the horrific price paid in a seemingly pointless conflict, and saddened by the loss of so many close friends and talented peers. Coined by intellectual Gertrude Stein, the term also refers to the most celebrated poets, writers, artists, and musicians of the generation. Themes explored by this group include melancholy over war experiences, the decadence of the Roaring Twenties, and the loss of idealism. Notable among the Lost Generation are:

>Djuana Barnes                                      >Aldous Huxley
>Aaron Copland                                      >James Joyce
>John Dos Passos                                    >C.S. Lewis
>T.S. Eliot                                               >Wilfred Owen
>William Faulkner                                    >Ezra Pound
>F. Scott Fitzgerald                                  >Sergei Prokofiev
>George Gershwin                                   >Siegfried Sassoon
>Ernest Hemmingway                              >John Steinbeck
>Paul Hindemith                                      >J.R.R. Tolkien

Life in the trenches was grueling. A day would begin an hour before sunrise with a "morning hate" -- a firing of guns to relieve tension and deter a raid. Chores during the day included guard duty, transporting rations, cleaning weapons, and trench repair. At the beginning of the war a British soldier received 10 ounces of meat and eight ounces of vegetables per day, but rations were reduced as the war dragged on. After dusk troops were rotated, barbed wire was repaired and night watches were assigned. Soldiers would sleep in trench dugouts or on the fire step.


Death in the trenches was routine and horrific. On the Western Front about 10% of troops were killed and more than 50% were wounded. Due to advances in weaponry the war was the first in which the majority of military deaths were from combat wounds and not disease. Dysentery, typhus and cholera were common. The stagnant warfare meant that dead troops often remained in no-man's-land -- a constant reminder of the terrible situation.

Mata Hari
World War I's most famous and romanticized spy was Mata Hari (1876-1917). Born Margaretha Zelle in the Netherlands, at 18 she married a Dutch officer and moved to the Dutch East Indies, where she studied dance and Asian culture. When her marriage ended she moved to Paris and became a famous model, exotic dancer and courtesan. Through her work she gained knowledge from high-level military officers and politicians throughout Europe. 

Mata Hari's lover, Russian pilot Vadim Maslov, was badly wounded in 1916. As a Dutch citizen she was not allowed to visit the front, but France gave her an option: she could visit Maslov if she agreed to pass military information she learned from her contacts. She agreed to work as a spy, but not long after was accused by the French of being a double agent for Germany. Mata Hari was executed by a firing squad on October 15, 1917.

T.E. Lawrence
One of the most remembered people involved in the war was British officer, archeologist and diplomat Thomas Edward Lawrence (1888-1935), better known as Lawrence of Arabia. He was sent to the Arabian Peninsula in 1916 and became a key liaison and military strategist in the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire -- part of the Central Powers. Lawrence became a popular writer, publishing The Seven Pillars of Wisdom in 1922 which chronicled his involvement in the Arab Revolt. His posthumously published book The Mint detailed his post-war service in the Royal Air Force and likened the training of RAF recruits to the production and circulation of coins. Lawrence was famous in his lifetime, and was the subject of the 1962 Academy Award-winning film Lawrence of Arabia.


A Remembrance Poppy is an artificial flower worn and displayed since 1921 worldwide -- especially by the British Commonwealth -- to honor the soldiers who died in World War I. The idea was introduced by American humanitarian Moina Mitchell, who was inspired by the poem In Flanders Fields written by Canadian physician and officer John McCrae in 1915. McCrae died in service in 1918. 

In Flanders fields the poppies blow         Take up our quarrel with the foe:
Between the crosses, row on row,           To you from failing hands we throw
That mark our place; and in the sky        The torch; be yours to hold it high.

We are Dead. Short days ago                  if ye break faith with us who die
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow       We shall not sleep, though poppies      Loved, and were loved, and now we lie    grow in Flanders fields.
In Flanders Fields.


Stubby
More than a million animals served in the First World War. Animals were used for transport, communication and companionship. Their importance to both sides cannot be underestimated. In the U.S., the American Red Star Animal Relief was founded in June 1916 with veterinarians, blacksmiths and stable hands to function as a Red Cross for U.S. Army animals. Motorized transport was still in its infancy; thus horses, donkeys, mules and camels were vital for transporting artillery, food, water, ammunition, and medical supplies to the front. Eight million horses and countless mules and donkeys died from enemy fire and the terrible conditions of combat. Horses also served as transportation for soldiers as integral parts of cavalry units.

Dogs also had a crucial part to play -- Germany employed 30,000, Britain, France and Belgium over 20,000 and Italy 3,000. Many breeds were used in roles as varied as guards, scouts, rescue dogs, explosive dogs, ratters and mascots. The most popular dogs were medium-sized, intelligent and trainable breeds. Doberman Pinschers and German Shepherds were especially popular because of their superior strength, agility, territorial nature and trainability, especially in their native Germany. Other breeds included terriers, which were often employed to hunt rats in the trenches.

The U.S. did not recruit dogs for World War I, instead borrowing them from the French and British. However, the U.S. did produce the most decorated and highly-ranked service dog in military history, Sergeant Stubby. He was the official mascot of the 102nd Infantry Regiment, served for 18 months and participated in 17 battles on the Western Front. Stubby was the first dog ever given rank in the United States Armed Forces, and was highly decorated for his participation in 17 engagements and for being wounded twice.

Pigeons played a crucial role in communication during World War I. Their homing instinct, speed and ability to fly at high altitudes made them excellent messengers able to make it back to their roosts even under combat conditions. Roosts were maintained at army and divisional headquarters while mobile lofts were used to communicate by smaller units. An estimated 50,000 pigeons were used on both sides.

Slugs were used to detect the presence of mustard gas. Dr. Paul Bartsch of the Division of Mollusks at the National Museum of Natural History discovered that slugs could detect mustard gas well before humans could -- they would close their pores and compress their bodies when exposed, allowing soldiers time to put their masks on. The "Slug Brigade" ended up saving many lives.

Categories of Medals

The medals of World War I can be organized into categories:  military awards, commemorative, satirical and propaganda. Military awards include medals for skills, accomplishments, bravery and participation. Commemorative medals range from commemorations of victories or individuals to memorials for damage and casualties. Satirical medals provide humorous or scathing criticisms of events during the war by artists and can blend into the category of propaganda medals designed to officially promote a specific view of the war. Below is a variety of medals from combatant nations on both sides.


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