Translating: 'Deutschen Gesellschaft zur rettung schiffbrüchiger' is 'German Society for the rescue of shipwrecked,' and 'Laeisz-Stiftung zur rettung schiffbrüchiger auf hoher see' is 'Laeisz Foundation to rescue shipwrecked on the high seas.'
Medals like this have been awarded to deserving rescuers for many decades. Usually, however, the medals are not dated, or show dates of historic events, not dates of issue, and value depends on date of issue. Metallic content, i.e., bronze, silver, gold, also affects value.
These medals come with different designs. The silver example in our main picture at the upper left sold for 300 euros (about $380) in a 2012 auction by Emporium Hamburg, and CoinQuest thanks the Emporium for use of its photographs. Had the medal been in bronze, selling price would probably be about $50 less. In gold, selling price would probably be $1000 more.
With different patterns, dates, and metallic compositions, you have to use some analytic thinking to estimate value. First, determine the metallic content. A jeweler can usually help with this. Compute base value (BV) by multiplying the weight of metal by the current price. For instance, if a gold sea rescue medal weighs 18 grams and is 22 karat gold, and the current price of gold is $1200 US dollars per troy ounce:
- convert 18 grams to troy ounces: 18/31.1 = 0.578 troy ounces
- account for metal purity 0.578 x (22/24) = 0.530 troy ounces
- find BV 0.530 x 1200 = $636 value due to gold content
Similar calculations apply to silver medals. Bronze medals have BV = 0.
Second, estimate the date of issue. The style of artwork and inscriptions change with time and older medals are worth more than modern ones. These medals seldom date earlier than the mid-1800s, when such societies were formed. Date of the main picture medal (upper left) is about 1905. Date of the secondary picture (with red and white ribbons) is about 1960.
Finally, an approximate catalog value will be:
SEA RESCUE MEDALS DATED BEFORE 1880
circulated: BV + $50 US dollars approximate catalog value
uncirculated: BV + $400
SEA RESCUE MEDALS DATED BEFORE 1920
circulated: BV + $30 US dollars approximate catalog value
uncirculated: BV + $200
SEA RESCUE MEDALS DATED AFTER 1920
circulated: BV + $10 US dollars approximate catalog value
uncirculated: BV + $20