Medals Of The European Danube Commission

Fig. 1. Lifeguard medal with ribbonFig. 2. Medal of the European Danube Commission
Fig. 3. Medal commemorating fifty years of the European Danube Commission
Fig. 4. Medal commemorating seventy-five years since the founding of the European Danube Commission

The 1906 bulletin of the Romanian Numismatic Society published two medals of the European Danube Commission, one of which was issued in 1900, the other in 1902. 1. LIFEGUARD MEDAL AND RIBBONThis medal was awarded continuously to EDC staff within the Lifeguard Service from 1902 onwards, accompanied by substantial prizes for specially trained sailors. The following description is based on a rare example of the medal, owned by a collector in Bucharest. The medal can probably also be found in the possession of the descendents of lifeguards in Romania.Obverse. A naked old man with a long beard, the god Danubius, wearing a crown of aquatic plants. He is lying on his side, at the edge of the Danube, on a bed of sand, leaning his elbow against a stone pipe from which water is flowing into the river. In his left hand, the god holds a trident, planted upright in the reeds. On the Danube, in front of the quays, rides a ship. The inscription on the edge is COMMISSION EUROPÉENNE DU DANUBE Reverse. In the centre, there is a rectangular plaque with a border, in which the name of the lifeguard and the date of the award were inscribed, against a wreath of laurel leaves. Above it there is a star with a circular burst of rays. The ribbon of the medal has the vertical bands of the EDC flag: red, white, blue, white, red. The contour is inscribed COURAGE ET DEVOUEMENT The medal is cast from silver, and has a diameter of 37 mm. The god Danubius. The mythological attributes of Danubius are not explicit, but were rather borrowed from Neptune. The Neptunalia were celebrated in Rome on 21 June. Similarly, in ancient Dobrudja, the god Ister, the Danube counterpart of Poseidon, was worshipped by the Greeks of the region. 2. THE MEDAL OF THE EUROPEAN DANUBE COMMISSION The medal was issued on the occasion of the inauguration of the Sulina Maritime Canal, on 21 October 1902, in the presence of Prince Ferdinand and Princess Maria, the heirs to the throne of Romania. Obverse. Identical to the obverse of the Lifeguard medal. Reverse. A simple, twelve-line inscription: LE - GRAND CANAL - DU BRAS DE SOULINA - A ÉTÉ ACHEVÉ - EN OCTOBRE 1902 - ET INAUGURÉ - EN PRÉSENCE DE LEURS - ALTESSES ROYALES - LE PRINCE - ET LA PRINCESSE - FERDINAND - DE ROUMANIE The medal was cast from silver and bronze, and has a diameter of 37 mm. 3. FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY MEDAL OF THE EUROPEAN DANUBE COMMISSIONOn the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the European Danube Commission in 1906, an engraved medal was issued, cast from silver and bronze, and with a diameter of 60 mm. Obverse. The medal repeats the figure of the god Danubius engraved on the above two medals. Reverse. In the middle of a wreath of oak and laurel leaves, the year of the anniversary, 1856-1906, is engraved within a frame. Above the frame, the following inscription is engraved: ARTICLE 16 DU TRAITE DE PARIS DU 30 MARS 1856. 4. MEDAL COMMEMORATING THE SEVENTY-FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE EUROPEAN DANUBE COMMISSION The seventy-fifth anniversary of the founding of the European Danube Commission was celebrated in 1931, with only a part of the governments that signed the original treaty in 1856 in attendance. Following the political events that took place in Europe and on the Danube after the First World War, a part of the states that participated in the Paris Treaty, namely Germany, Austria, Russia and Turkey, were no longer part of the commission. Thus, in 1931, only four states, Britain, France, Italy and Romania took part in EDC activities. The medal was cast in silver and bronze in Paris, and has a diameter of 60 mm. Obverse. Symbols of the union of multiple national, political, economic and social interests on the Danube, represented by the goddess Juno, protector of all communions (weddings) and also waters, in this case the united interests of the European Danube Commission.A comely woman, with a visibly maternal abdomen, her hair gathered in a bunch, she is dressed in transparent veils, flowing to her ankles. She is seated on the left bank of the Danube, at the point where it empties into the sea. Resting on a massive imperial throne, the goddess gazes towards the sun rising from the sea, and points to it. In her left hand, she holds a trident, planted vertically in the sandy soil, studded with aquatic plants, predominantly reeds.With her right hand, she makes a protective gesture towards Sulina and over the curved dykes that outline the channel leading into the Danube.On the river float vessels of all sizes, including one that enters the channel against the rising sun, symbolising free and unhindered navigation on the Danube, the principal mission of the European Commission.The breeze from the sea blows the smoke from another ship upstream, as it manoeuvres in the middle of the navigable channel.On the right shore of the Danube can be descried the buildings of Sulina, including the tall lighthouse, which dominates the scene.At the base of the jetty on the right bank can be remarked a large building: the Administrative Palace of the European Danube Commission.On the side of the throne on which the goddess is seated, leaning her elbow, can be found the following inscription: ARTICLE 16 DU TRAITE DE PARIS DU 30 MARS 1856. The last paragraph of Article 16 of the Paris Peace Treaty enjoined the establishment of the European Danube Commission.The edge of the medal has the following inscription: 1856 - COMMISSION EUROPEENE DU DANUBE - 1931The goddess Juno, found on the obverse of the medal, is synonymous with the Greek goddess Hera. She was the protector of maternity and marriage, and was worshipped on 1 March every year with sacrifices of lambs. The month of June is named after the Roman goddess. Her image can be seen in a fresco at Pompeii, in the same pose, whence we may suppose that the engraver took his inspiration. Along with Athene, Hera was one of three goddesses who took part in the Judgement of Paris, son of the King of Troy, who in the end chose Aphrodite. Reverse: the circular outline of the medal bears the inscription:INAUGURATION DES NOUVELLES DIGUES DE SOULINA - MCMXXXI - On the reverse, the medal bears the official arms of the four states which, in 1931, still governed the activities of the European Danube Commission. Clockwise, they are the Royal Coat of Arms of Romania, the Arms of the Kingdom of Italy, the Arms of the Republic of France, and the Arms of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In the centre of the medal there is the symbol of Juno's trident, as in the other medals with the god Danubius.

by Petre Covacef