The Man



He, who desires to remain firm and unmoved,
Will burst open the vaults of heaven;
To him all spirits shall bow
And Exclaim: 'Come, oh come and take—You take but your own.'

                                                    Ernst Moritz Arndt


In the year 1935, Karl Goetz made the medal, K-510, depicting his own portrait on the obverse side, and the stations of his life on the reverse. The medal was made to celebrate his 60th birthday. The stations of his life are written around a nude man carrying the symbol of the artist's birthplace, Augsburg, on his right shoulder. Born on June 28th, 1875, in Augsburg, Goetz attended the school of art in Augsburg, and continued his education in schools of art in Dresden, Leipzig, Berlin, and Düsseldorf from 1895 to 1897. He then went to Utrecht, in Holland, and later to Le Locle, during the years 1897 to 1899, spent 5 years in Paris, and in 1904 moved to Munich. He grew to love this ancient city and it became his home. One of the proudest moments of Goetz's life came when the city of Munich awarded him rights as a citizen. He lived there for forty six years, until his death on September 8, 1950.


Now an artist in his own field, Goetz led an active life, becoming a member of the Munich Artists Society, The Numismatic Society, The Antique Club of Munich, and The Austrian Association for Numismatics in Vienna.


Nevertheless, Goetz managed to create over 800 medals. A great number of these medals are shown and  possessed by the Kaiser Friedrich Museum  in Berlin, the Münzkabinett in Munich, the Germanische Museum Nürnberg,

and the Münzkabinetts Vienna, Grafenhage, and London. The Universitetets Myntkabinett in Oslo, Norway has 69 Goetz medals on display. There are also many medals which are owned by the American Numismatic Society in New York. Some of the largest private collections in the United States are the Saginaw Valley Collection, and, of course, the Collection.

Many of the medals made by Goetz were reduced in size to 60, 36, and 21 mm. The metal molds and steel dies were worked over and finished by Goetz himself, since he had gone through an engraver's apprenticeship in Augsburg. These medals were minted in bronze, silver, and gold by the Bayerisches Hauptmünzamt in Munich. One of the most common was the "Hindenburg" 80th birthday commemorative, K-386, struck in silver and gold, Mintage figures of these medals exceeded one million struck.  Hundreds of metal molds and steel dies, which had been stored in the Hauptmünzamt in Munich, were rendered unserviceable by the bombings of World War II.

Because of this portrait medal of Hindenburg, made in 1927, Goetz received the commission to design the Hindenburg postage stamp for the government in the year 1932.


Goetz received many awards: the State Medal in silver at Nuremberg in 1906; the State Medal in silver at Gent 1913; and, awarded posthumously, the Silver State medal of the "II Exposición Nacional de Numismatica e Internacional de Medallas" held in Madrid, Spain in 1950.



In 1946 Karl Goetz worked on his last medal, the great K-633, "The German Passion."  On the reverse side is inscribed a passage taken from the Lord's prayer, "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors, and lead us not in temptation, but deliver us from evil." On the other side the figure of a man, praying to Jesus Christ on the cross, resembles Goetz himself. This medal seems to have a wealth of symbolic meaning. One is reminded that Goetz and his fatherland, at the end of World War II in 1945, faced the question of what evil deeds had been committed during the fatal twelve years of the Hitler regime.


This last medal by Goetz deserves recognition as the culmination of his lifework. It is fitting that his son Guido, who finished this medal due to his father's illness, changed the date from 1946, to 1950.  It was an appropriate act to date this medal with Karl Goetz's year of death. Goetz was a man of genius who lived for his work. In the last years before his death, he had suffered from paralysis of the right hand; yet he continued his work as long as he was able. By the time of his death the right side of his body had become completely paralyzed. Karl Goetz died at the age of seventy-five on September 8, 1950.


He was an artist to the end.